Building Blocks - Issue 51
Jul 21 2023 — Friday
- Project Focus: White Palace
- Employee Focus: Anniversary
- Employee Focus: New Interns
- Technology Focus: Artificial Intelligence
- The Pines Pool House
- Bavarian Inn Renovation
- Blue Sulphur Springs
- Davis & Elkins Residence Hall
Project Focus: White Palace
Mills Group led the $2.2 million dollar renovation to the Wheeling Park White Palace. The renovation included a new café on the west corner of the White Palace with a new outdoor seating deck, a redesigned façade at the side entrance, a grand staircase leading up to the second-floor lobby, and updated 7,130 sq.ft. ballroom. A sky-lit veranda runs across the front of the building with a long wall of windows and French Doors.
The Interior Designer on the project was LDL Design Studio of Providence, Rhode Island. The project was funded through American Rescue Plan Act funds awarded to the City of Wheeling combined with contributions from donors. Construction began in December of 2022 and was completed in May of 2023.
Employee Focus: Anniversary
Vivian is celebrating her 16th Anniversary with us at Mills Group. Vivian works in the accounting department maintaining office services by organizing office operations and procedures, preparing payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable and keeping management informed by reviewing and analyzing financial reports.
Vivian loves to travel and has a penchant for photography. She also enjoys spending quality time with family and friends.
Employee Focus: New Interns
Victoria Anderson is an Intern for Mills Group at the Wheeling location. She was born and raised in Wheeling, WV and is currently enrolled at Fairmont State University to earn her Bachelor of Science in Architecture. While earning her degree, Victoria is also a distance swimmer for Fairmont’s Division 2 Women’s Swim team. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing by her pool, spending time with her family and dogs, attending concerts, and swimming.
Kyle is an intern for Mills Group in our Shepherdstown location. Kyle is from Charles Town, WV, and pursuing his Master's Degree in Architecture at Fairmont State University. Kyle enjoys working out at the gym, playing video games, listening to music, building Legos, and spending time with family and friends when not in school.
Technology Focus: Artificial Intelligence
As a firm that loves to honor the past while looking to the future, we always keep our eyes on the horizon for new and innovative ways to assist in creative and thought-provoking design that also speaks to the heart of our clients. In that vein, Mills Group has recently been learning to work with generative, prompt-driven artificial intelligence software. To boil down the process into it's most basic form, this software accepts user-provided content (photos or text), adapts it to desired parameters (architectural styles, colors, moods, photographic angles, etc.), and creates completely original imagery that adheres to the guidelines provided.
Let's say a client asks for a new home design and they provide a wealth of input on how they want it to look. Maybe they want a modern, yet traditional aesthetic with stone and vertical siding, gabled metal roof, exterior fireplaces, covered patios, large glass openings, and it needs to be two stories high. Let's also assume this is on a slight hillside in the soft countryside of southern West Virginia and the client wants to see how it would fit against the landscape. Without at least starting to design the building, research precedents, undertake site work, and spend hours of time crafting an idea and simulating an image for the client to review, there will always be opportunities for miscommunication between the parties on what a project will look like when completed. What if instead of sharing Pinterest boards and exhaustive image searching to communicate intent, you could create an image in seconds, right in front of the client, that contained everything they wanted, all homogenized into a single "visual cocktail"? A tool that could allow the client and the professional to play in possibilities and push boundaries without spending time or money on guesswork.
This generative software allows just that while also setting a tangible, visual goal from the very first step of a project. To be clear, it does not design for or replace the role of architects and planners, but instead acts as a support system that helps build iterative designs and bring together seemingly unrelated ideas into something completely new. We use this tool as a visual benchmark for what we then work towards in our normal, professional fashion: completing site visits, taking inventory, planning sites, laying out room sizes and circulation, understanding power and light, utility and energy, etc. All the normal architectural and planning processes we normally undertake are still fully intact in our work flow, just now with the added benefit of having more ways to visually communicate with our clients and their dreams.
The Pines Pool House
The Pines Country Club in Morgantown, West Virginia unveiled their new pool house this summer with the help of the Mills Group and Jarrett Construction. The previously existing pool was over 40 years old and in need of replacement. Originally hired to do a master plan of the Pines Country Club, Mills Group focused on the immediate need of a new pool, deck, pool house, concession, and storage. The new pool house was designed to seamlessly integrate with the existing clubhouse.
The new pool house includes bathrooms, changing rooms, concessions, and administrative offices. The pool and pool house tie into a new deck that is perfect for movie nights and concerts.
With a deadline of Memorial Day weekend, Mills Group and Jarrett Construction were able to beat the heat with over 200 guests attending the pool opening weekend.
Bavarian Inn Renovation
Mills Group was hired to provide architectural and interior design services for the interior fit-out of the guest rooms and exterior entries to Buildings Augsburg, Bodensee, Chiemsee, Danube, and Schwartzwald at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, WV.
The scope of work included developing a fresh new look to 72 guest rooms and common corridors. Interior design elements included new flooring, wall finishes, lighting, guest bath fixtures, ceramic tile and artwork.Non-Structural architectural changes included updating the shape and appearance of the existing gas fireplaces in many of the rooms, while still adhering to the German feel and aesthetic that is so well known to the property.
Blue Sulphur Springs
Built in 1836 as the centerpiece of a health resort along Kitchen Creek in Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia, the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion is the only remaining structure after fire destroyed the resort in 1863. This Greek Revival inspired pavilion served as a natural source for sulfur rich water in the surrounding communities through the 20th century.
In 2013, the Greenbrier Historical Society acquired this property, and with our help outlining its stabilization and reuse, a plan to restore the structure was created. Mills Group aided with multiple phases of restoration with the end goal of the structure to become a tourist destination. This summer, those dreams were accomplished.
On July 1st, 2023, the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion was officially rededicated by the Friends of the Blue Committee.
Davis & Elkins Residence Hall
Known as “the Freshman Village,” the area is specifically designed with spaces to offer dynamic programming that demonstrates the value of living on campus. The new three-and-a half-story, 100-bed suite-style residence hall will feature a common kitchen, multi-purpose room, collaborative study spaces and laundry and vending amenities. To aid with accessibility, the residence hall will have an elevator, as well as a second entrance lobby through the building’s lower level.
Renovations to the current Gribble Hall and Roxanna Booth Hall will include upgrades to HVAC, electrical and wireless technology, and new windows, doors, furniture, fixtures and finishes throughout the buildings. The project also will address codes for accessibility, bathroom fixtures and fire protection.
The construction of a gazebo and development of the patio outside of Gribble Lounge will provide additional gathering spots and help tie the village together physically and aesthetically.
Improvements to student housing is Phase II of the College’s Campus Master Plan which was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in 2019. The first phase – extensive renovations to Myles Center for the Arts – was completed in 2020.