Building Blocks - Issue 42
Jun 12 2020 — Friday
- Project Focus: Myles Center/Plaza Construction
- Employee Focus: New Employee - Nicole Leach
- Employee Focus: New Intern - Kate Heath
- Technology Focus: Mills Group Virtual Studio
- FNB Capon Bridge
- Stacey Bowers on Working Remotely
- Parkersburg Children's Museum
- WNHAC (Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation)
Project Focus: Myles Center/Plaza Construction
Myles Center for the Arts and Myles Plaza are starting to take new form with the expansion and renovations well underway. Construction on the $6.6 million project began November 1st with the completion slated for fall 2020.
Mills Group is providing full architecture and landscape architecture services for the addition, renovations, and exterior plaza rehabilitation. The 6,000 square foot glass enclosed addition will nearly double the size of The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum, and includes a two-story stone and brick rotunda main entrance feature.
Once complete, Myles Plaza will be transformed into a destination gathering space with curvilinear lines inspired by musical influences, walking paths, grassy areas and sections for conversations. The stone Vietnam Veterans Memorial honoring D&E alumni who gave their lives will be relocated. A 10 foot tall bronze sculpture commissioned by June Myles will accentuate the plaza.
“It’s inspiring to see this project unfold on our campus,” said D&E President Chris A. Wood. “We are most grateful to June Myles for her generosity in helping transform this space that will serve not only our campus community, but the community at-large.”
Employee Focus: New Employee - Nicole Leach
Nicole Leach is the Office Manager for Mills Group in Morgantown. She is responsible for daily operations at the Morgantown office, marketing efforts, social media accounts and assisting the Mills Group staff in various aspects.
A Morgantown native, Nicole graduated from West Virginia University in 2015 and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. She recently completed backpacking a Colorado 14er in the Rocky Mountains which included a landslide and a run in with a bull moose.
In her free time, Nicole enjoys hiking with her two dogs, reading whatever she can get her hands on, watching cooking shows and tending to her garden.
Employee Focus: New Intern - Kate Heath
Name: Kate Heath
Role/Title at MG: Intern
Where are you originally from: Milwaukee, WI
How did you end up at Mills Group: After college I spent a decade in the construction and woodworking industries before shifting to architecture. I was drawn to Mills Group’s commitment to excellence and core values of preservation and sustainability.
Where did you go to school and what was your education: BA in Sociology and Anthropology, Middlebury College, and currently pursuing an March at Cornell University
What are your favorite hobbies: Woodworking, silver smithing, camping, spending time in the garden and on the river.
What achievements are you most proud of: Returning to school to study architecture.
Quote: “The mind is like an umbrella—it functions best when open.” –Walter Gropius
I joined Mills Group as an intern this summer after completing my first year of architecture school at Cornell University. I grew up in Milwaukee, WI and received a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Middlebury College. After college I worked in the construction industry, building houses from foundation to finish, and went back to school for fine woodworking. My love of building and of making things led to an interest in design and ultimately to pursue a degree in architecture. I’m particularly interested in residential and small-scale commercial architecture, and I’m excited to learn from Mills Group this summer.
When I’m not working or in school, I can usually be found tinkering in the woodshop, spending time in the garden, or floating down a river.
Technology Focus: Mills Group Virtual Studio
Mills Group has prided itself on being one of the most technologically-forward architecture & planning firms in the state. Whether it be using point-cloud scanners, drones, high-end animation software, computer simulations and interactivity, or even virtual reality, we have always worked to provide our teammates and clients with the highest level of software and tools available.
With recent global events, the need to communicate and manage deadlines in a fast and accurate way has only heightened. Projects still roll in, timelines still have to be met, and Mills Group has leaned on our virtual toolset to provide solutions.
Currently, we have the capability to utilize a completely virtual design studio for all project needs. What does that mean exactly? In simple terms, all the workflows, meetings, reviews, client-interactions, and deliverables can be created, shared, and provided in a 100% virtual space.
By using digital meeting rooms and screen-sharing we can interact with our clients and teammates in safe and comfortable ways. Our on-site hardware (cameras & scanners) allows us to accurately gather all needed site information without having to interact with anyone in-person or disturb social distancing guidelines. Leveraging our touchscreen monitors and file editing software, we can mark up documents, make revisions, and submit without having to make physical contact. From the moment a project begins to the final documents we provide, our virtual studio has shown that it can provide the same level of service, if not better, than what you've come to expect from us.
FNB Capon Bridge
Mills Group partnered with Pray Construction to complete the interior renovations of the FNB Bank branch in Capon Bridge, WV. The design-build project included a new floor plan to provide an updated teller line, customer waiting area, new offices, accessible toilet rooms and a staff lounge. The 1,890 square foot bank branch received all new flooring, ceilings, lighting, and wall finishes throughout. The flooring was updated to add durable tile flooring in the high traffic areas and carpet in offices, waiting and teller space to enhance acoustical comfort. The color scheme and finishes were selected to highlight the new teller area and the customer waiting area providing a friendly, welcoming experience for the customers. To further welcome customers upon entrance to the branch, the entrance vestibule also features two large, custom-framed historic photos of the local area.
Stacey Bowers on Working Remotely
In response to the current pandemic, Mills Group thought it would be informative to hear from the employees first-hand on how they dealt with the challenge. Stacey Bowers was gracious enough to offer her own experience as she worked from home:
"If you ask my five-year old daughter about the coronavirus pandemic (which she refers to as “the sickness”), she would tell you that she misses her friends at school, but she really enjoyed having mom at home every day. Though some days required a bit more creativity to accomplish all our daily tasks, my family adapted pretty easily to working and learning from home.
As a Project Manager, I’m pretty used to managing multiple projects and organizing tasks required to complete a project. Working from home in the company of a preschooler required me to use these skills in a new way. I learned quickly how to schedule my own activities and tasks as they would align with her activities, energy levels, and attention span.
She has always been interested in the different types of buildings I am working on, but she really enjoyed having the opportunity to observe this work even closer, learn about the different disciplines we collaborate with by listening in on my conference calls, and become even more aware of the environment around her and the care that is put into spaces designed for people to use."
Parkersburg Children's Museum
Mills Group is working with the Ross Foundation and Board of the Parkersburg Children’s Museum on the master planning and conceptual design for adaptive reuse of an existing historic building at the corner of 9th and Market Streets in downtown Parkersburg, WV. The building is a grand limestone and brick structure that was built as a Masonic Building.
Design services included an initial building survey and code analysis, master planning, and conceptual design. As the project continues, Mills Group will coordinate with structural, mechanical, electrical, and museum design consultants to create construction documents to complete the multi-phase project. The master plan includes the addition of an accessible entrance, new restrooms, and a new elevator to provide access to all levels of the building, and upgrades to building systems as necessary to bring the building up to current standards for use as a children’s museum. Interior renovations are planned to take advantage of the buildings large open interior spaces and showcase the existing materials and detailing, while transforming the spaces into fun and engaging learning spaces for children.
The interior of the six-story building is divided into three double-height spaces, each with a stage or platform area at the southeast side. Mezzanine levels accessed via marble stairs are present at all three main interior spaces. Rectangular marble floor tile in white and grey are used in circulation spaces throughout the building, while other areas feature hardwood or carpeting. Many of the interior spaces feature decorative crown and base moldings, chair rails, and deep windowsills. Coved and coffered ceilings, often with integrated lighting, are also common throughout the building’s double-height spaces. Mills Group will be honoring this building’s interior while incorporating new finishes and design elements to optimize the aesthetic appeal and functionality of this historic structure.
WNHAC (Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation)
Mills Group worked with Wheeling Heritage on the renovation of the second floor of the Artisan Center for their new office space. Previously located in the corner of the third floor, the 2,160 square foot space is more than four times their previous office size and provides a new conference room, executive office, podcast room, staff kitchen area, work room, workstation area and a break-out space for employees. Services included schematic design through construction administration.
One of the main architectural features of the new office was the break-out space which was created by infilling an existing opening to the first level and adding to the existing metal railing. Another feature was incorporating salvaged light fixtures, outfitted with modern LED lighting, from the former La Belle Cut Nail Works plant, which had been demolished in 2017. Both features allow for the retention of history while integrating new construction.