Architectural Trips ~ A Italia


Gloss-lipped sun, over the road that carries morning back to Italy. I love going to a place that’s in my blood. The rays lay down, everyone else moving with me is pale and excited.

Once in the air, we fly along with the barrier islands of the states before heading eastward.

Once in Rome we enter the city through one of the fourteen gates, and bow down before the sunken oval entrance. A mosaic of Jesus greets us, and then we are allowed to sleep.

It isn’t long before we need to draw the Colosseum. The historic mass that takes up the end of a city block. The figure that is recalled so easily in the mind, stands before me in a way that pushes back.


Time for Coffee – Morgantown Marriott


It’s always difficult to finish. It’s even more difficult to finish a project as large (70,000 sf), out of masonry and through two winters in a little over a year! The Grand Opening party is scheduled for June, but the hotel will open its doors before that. The contractors who have seen that every joint is caulked, ever louver installed, and that each fan is drawing the required air, have been a blessing to the architect. I am thankful that each member of the team cared as much about providing the owners and the Marriott brand with a hotel that is of the utmost quality. Not only were things finished the right way, but they were finished the best way. Thank you, thank you. Come and visit the hotel for yourself soon!



Pretty at Punch

Look at the hotel now! A year ago today the Marriott site looked like this:

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The drawings weren’t even complete. They looked like this, without bathrooms in the guest rooms, because we were determining the pod geometry with Oldcastle.

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The first week of March 2015 was spent preparing specifications and the Marriott Courtyard prototype drawings for compliance, selecting finishes and fixtures from the options and coordinating those with our MEP trades. Structural coordination and structural detailing went on simultaneously. Mills Group had the fortunate experience of working with great owners, West Place LLC. Throughout the project we coordinated with A LOT of consultants including: the general contractor, Waller Corporation,  Oldcastle for bathroom pods,  our MEP and Structural consultants at Allegheny Design Services, Cheat Road Engineering for the site, Marriott of course, Mack Industries who provided our precast floor plans, Concrete Fabricators on the stairs and small details surrounding the outside, Fairfield Landscaping, Gilliana Pools, REDI Kitchen Consultants, Mongiovi, Morgantown Security and Fire, and Schindler to name a few. On the sub-contractor side, Elk Electric, Pine Hollow Mechanical, Inc., JMJ who built the cabinetry and Daniel W’s FF&E team who installed it have all worked alongside Waller’s tireless team to be where we are today with a space that is finishing beautifully.

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Our architectural firm uses many technologies to complete our work. Revit was used to draft this project during the production drawing phase and during our most recent punch list efforts we’ve used Blue Beam Revu. More on that program to come. For now, enjoy the final few stages of construction and FF&E setup as the Mills Group team sees the progress during the punch list process. Enjoy the images below!

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And then, two weeks later, photos by Mariah:


Pull back the Curtain

…And welcome Morgantown’s new Marriott. The project that has been on my desk for about two years is going to be finished in the next couple of months.

I visited the site this week and enjoyed recognizing all of the finishing details as the guestrooms near completion from the fifth floor down.

The fire pit in the back has been bricked awaiting the surrounding patio to be poured in the next week. The landscaping is in, as this week provided sunshine and some warmer temperatures. The EIFS contractors are working beneath a heated tent to finish the rear of the building, offering a finished face to the view. The flags will soon be hoisted on the recently installed poles, celebrating our nation, WVU and the adjacent Black Bears Baseball team. I can’t wait!


Marriott Update December 2015

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Foundations began less than a year ago for the Morgantown Courtyard by Marriott, and now a few months before opening, the building is standing with a real presence.

IMG_0180Mills Group made it on OldCastle’s blog recently for this project in Morgantown! Check it out here.IMG_0133 IMG_0127December has been unseasonably warm. As of today concrete and asphalt surround the building awaiting the winter opening. Winter sod will be installed soon as the finishing touches from floor five down are complete. At the start of December I walked the building with my colleague and we marveled as we watched sixty drywall finishers, some on stilts, move through level three to mud, sand and paint the drywall. The top two floors look like white boxes awaiting their finishes. Soon the Marriott Sign will arrive, and the building will have a name to the public. The collage of photos below were taken by Waller Construction.


Ostia Antica


Ostia Antica is the site of an ancient Roma civilization. Our family spent the first night we arrived on the back porch of Ostia Antica Park Hotel, the site of our worst Italian experience. The first communion celebration extravaganza should have tipped us off. This place was an in-between place, convenient for travelers to the nearby airport with nothing more of the community to be shared. I would have to pay to swim, pay to sit on the front patio, pay to stay too long at breakfast. So, we eventually figured out other places to spend time while staying at the hotel. Walking around downtown wasn’t so bad, considering the well maintained private drives.

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This place was beautiful but I wouldn’t recommend our hotel for many more reasons by the end of our stay. The first being the common ‘misunderstanding’ of many restaurants serving American tourists. They loved to give us 5-times the portion of appetizers. I tried out all of my verbs, condividere – to share, or the simple word for divide, dividere. But, none of them worked. The waiters all wanted to see our faces when what was meant as an order to share was way too large for any group to split. See the mozzarella balls below.

Ostia again

We had to say goodbye to my brother who would be flying back to the States earlier than the rest of us. We’d also have to say goodbye to my Mom’s camera and all of her beautiful pictures that was lost or taken somewhere in the lobby of this hotel or as we boarded the bus out from the front door. The hotel staff, with access to the security camera, refused to watch the tapes for us as we called and called back for help. That is, they refused or saw something they didn’t want to share with us. It was difficult to understand either way. Even a year later it is hard to digest the faces and scenes my Mom had captured with her creative eye, then lost.

We’d spend the day my brother left playing in the ruins around an erie feeling of a spirit returning.

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