Views and Vistas
Materials in the Garden
Outdoor Rooms below the canopies of Virginia Spruce or Katsura Trees left for 100 years.
Pathways and Places, Edges and Boundaries
Join the Architecture department at Fairmont State University this Thursday, October 20th to listen about the life and work of Julie Beckman, architect of the 911 Pentagon Memorial.
The reception will begin at 6 in the Engineering Technology building on campus (#20 on this map.) The lecture begins at 7pm.
It was a nice Saturday to enjoy a West Virginia town along the river. Details from many of the buildings caught my eye. Enjoy it for yourself by visiting Fairmont, West Virginia. I suggest stopping by the local Joe N’ Throw for a brew of any kind. The place is filled with a few students and older locals, but I found a free table for my own peace and quiet for a few hours.
As an architect creative work can be challenging in both big and small jobs when working on a deadline and within unknown expectations. The only way to continue being more me is by recognizing opportunities and reinforcing my hopes while being open to growth.
Life is a web connecting all experiences. Memories of hiking blend with writing and sketching while sitting in the shade of my back porch watching the flowers birds and bees. Encouraged to create the life I want to make for myself has made me feel lighter in everything I do. With positive thoughts all parts of life will begin to point toward the central meaning of life.
In my professional life everything goes into the process of architecture. The key is finding the spark in doing the work. Architecture school teaches how to push work to its best by researching, collaborating and asking questions. Whether trying to sell work to new clients or the motivation to finish a project well, keeping the sense of excitement in work is important. Getting lost in the enjoyment of work is the best feeling.
Thinking these thoughts this week while walking to work the simple T-shirt statement OBEY clicked with me. Created by Shepard Fairey, the shirt has a political connotation to it as does most of his art. What OBEY meant to me that day was out of context. I read it on my morning commute and that day, more than usual, there were more business people with backpacks, students going to class on skateboards, and hotel-goers out for a morning stroll. I felt a kindred spirit with them all. We were enjoying exercise and the outdoors, on our way through the day. ‘Obey’ meant obey myself, obey my desire, be more me, and I liked it.
When I open my mind to be perceptive I see clues all over the world. Nike’s iconic statement ‘Just Do It’ and the film that still brings me to tears, ‘Move’ are other advertising examples. These messages are about pushing yourself, believing in yourself, knowing yourself. It’s what I love about getting up early before work to take a run, knowing that this time is mine and I am achieving a goal.
The meditation series ‘Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life’ by Deepak and Oprah is about allowing creativity for yourself while promoting others creativity. We are all motivated when engaged in something we personally enjoy. Reflecting on work then, how do I make these moments an open place for growing? All parts of work aren’t enjoyable. By finding creativity in different tasks, we can feel lighter and more encouraged. After all, this is where most weekly energy is spent.
The book Bossypants by Tina Fey offers some great co-creator* thoughts. Fey’s number one advice is agree and then offer yes, and solutions. The yes, and approach means building on ideas. That is, building on their ideas instead of saying no. Make positive statements when addressing co-workers. For example, statements that recognize accomplishments and task items are better than beginning a meeting with ‘where are we?’ Share empowered feelings while acknowledging everyone’s role in the product. This is easier said than done, as not everyone you work with may be so cheerful. ‘In any situation when faced with unsolicited advice ask yourself “Is this person between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used during your work and outpacing people that way… If yes, use the Sesame Street strategy of “Over! Under! Through!” to be yourself. Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.’ Fey encourages.
Twelve years an architect and I realize doing the best kind of architecture comes from within and from collaboration. At this point in my career I can attract the kind of work I want because I have had the experience of doing it. Living within a six-hour drive from New York City, DC, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, all megacities of art and architecture, my life is relatively easy-going and continues to grow in my profession. I am an architect in a community setting. I want to work. I garden, know my neighbors, have time to run, practice yoga and meditation. These are a part of my practice. I have time to hike and upkeep an old house with my husband, money to travel and money to save. I have a great quality of life that influences my work.
I want to be me more in my architecture by promoting the work I enjoy doing. This week I was pushed by being open to noticing the ways in which the world gives opportunities. Being my best person and architect is done by thinking and acting on what I love to do. I encourage you to do the same.
*Common saying by Deepak Chopra
A street view by Google offers a lively account of what the corner of High and Pleasant Street already look like in downtown Morgantown, WV. With Tin 202 keeping the corner alive into the night, the hip residents that frequent the Real Juice Bar, Black Bear or the Co-Op by day now have another venue to look forward to. The surrounding area has continued in the last few years to be revitalized and the owners of the popular night spot, Tin 202, have decided to keep on renovating their own block. The owners, alongside of head chef Josh, hope to open a lunch/cafe and wine tasting bar that will offer craft cheeses, meats, and more.
The Mills Group has been asked to help with this renovation, and we’ve started by describing the desired scene in sketch.
Once inside, the two new storefronts will be opened up to one another. The left side will have a craft-food retail area and extend into the new dining room space next door. In the market, a large kitchen will be open throughout the length of the space so that customers shopping for special meats and cheese, may see exactly how their food is being prepared.
Sketches turn into floor plans and details. Then, we begin to assign materials that can be shared with the client to assure them that the space appears and functions the way they need it to. The initial sketches become construction documents with which contractors may begin to be involved in the collaboration. We’ll keep you posted so that you can plan to sit, sip and sketch in the newest space in Morgantown too!
The arch of Constantine, it’s 1700 years old. There is a lump in my throat as my small feet move, my legs stretch to step along the 1′ square stones, marking the ancient Roman road. The stones are glossy after all of the rain. We are in the forum, a place we can walk around.
Most of Rome’s ruins are below the street, to the enjoyment of my companion. She is from Mexico City, and this ancient city reminds her of Aztec ruins, temples and pyramids hidden below the modern city she knows.
The Pantheon doors don’t tell you about what’s about to happen. My soul is taken, uplifted below the moon disk looming, hovering, suspended and heavy am I, just left standing and staring until someone comes along to accidently brush my shoulder. The Pantheon is even older, built 1900 years ago, remaining as a backdrop to the many movements of people, for a new history.
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.
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!
Look at the hotel now! A year ago today the Marriott site looked like this:
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.
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.
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!
And then, two weeks later, photos by Mariah: