Mills Group Team Wins Top o Rock Design Competition

Jul 27 2015 — Monday

The Mills Group team won the Top O Rock design competition !

Top O Rock (TOR) is West Virginia’s modernist masterpiece. Originally designed by Henry Elden in the 1960s, the round glass studio and dwelling has over 10,000 square feet of organic space. The structure is situated atop of an abandoned rock quarry, which provides magnificent views of the Charleston skyline below. After the house became vacant, vandals began destroying this modern building. With demolition on the horizon, the WV Greenworks and the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society created a design competition to solicit examples from area architects, students and interested individuals as to how to save TOR.

The competition goals were to encourage innovative, viable restoration, adaptive reuse and sustainable property development; demonstrate regional economic development potential and engage multi-disciplinary professionals and the public to raise awareness of historic preservation and cultural heritage. The Mills Group brought a dynamic team together which included Nikki Bowman, the owner of New South Media, Michael Corlis, owner of Corlis Design and Construction a design/build business in Charleston, and the staff of GAI’s Community Solutions Group (David Gilmore, Patty Folan and Ryan Seacrist) in addition to architect Michael Mills, Planner Juliana Lloreda and architectural designer Mariah Roth.

The team reimagined TOR as a cultural facility with an arts academy, a facility rental, a community kitchen and farm, and the location of a music and performing arts series. Using a series of designs, the team illustrated the proposed layout of the new facility with the modernist building serving as the focal point. The design also included using natural elements to retain the aesthetic of the original building.

After submitting the design package, the team presented their design to a panel of judges and the public which also submitted votes for the winning team. The Selection Committee chose the Mills Group team’s vision as the most comprehensive and inventive of the submittals. The purpose of the design competition was to provide vision to the owners and to show the public that there are new uses for old buildings.