First Friday Artist, Laurence Heine

First Friday Artist, Laurence Heine

Laurence Heine is among the talented group of creators contributing to our First Friday holiday event and gallery opening on December 2nd at the Depot. Laurence has previously shown his work at the Depot and we are grateful to have him return! Get to know Laurence and his photography in his biography below.

sunset over pier
Sunset Beach Sunrise, photo captured at Sunset Beach, NC

“I have been interested in photography since childhood, when I mostly photographed railroads and steam engines – I remember my first camera was a plastic Kodak box camera. I was a photographer for my high school and college yearbooks and my college newspaper, and for two years I was the college yearbook photographic editor. 

Over the years I have amassed boxes of slides and photos, many of which have never been looked at. Since switching to digital cameras, I have also taken thousands of digital images  (more than 2000 images during an 18-day trip to National Parks in the west in 2015). 

I am primarily interested in photographing nature and scenery, ranging from butterflies and insects to sunrises, sunsets, rainbows, waterfalls, wildlife, and scenic panoramas. I also enjoy photographing ‘distressed’ (as in abandoned or forlorn) buildings and objects and am now doing a lot of macro (extreme close-up) photography.  

My desire is to capture specific moments or scenes that are meaningful to me, so I can share those moments or scenes so others can enjoy them too, whether by displaying a mounted and framed print or by sharing them online. 

I mount and frame my best or favorite photographs so others can appreciate them, too. I have displayed photos at the Rockingham County Fair, The Smith House Gallery, Virginia Mennonite  Retirement Community, in the offices of Dr. Stacie Dietz and Appalachian Physical Therapy, at  The Gaines Group Architects, and at the Staunton Innovation Hub. I received two First Place awards in the 2018 Rockingham County Fair and a First and a Second Place award in the 2022 Rockingham County Fair.

Because almost every photo has a story, my wife, Beverly, and I started a photo blog  ( featuring some of our photos and describing the circumstances which led to the photo being taken, as well as information about the location of the photo and some technical aspects of the photo.”

Ring in the Holidays at the Depot!

Ring in the Holidays at the Depot!

It’s that time of year and we are excited to join forces with our Depot neighbors, R.S. Monger and Sons and Herr and Company to host an extra special holiday party and First Friday event! Mark your calendars and plan to stop by the Depot on Friday, December 2nd between 5-7 pm to partake in the festivities.

Ring in the holidays at the Depot!

The holiday spirit will be celebrated and shared as we listen to live music performed by Red Wing Academy, share our wish lists with Santa himself, and shop from local vendors. The festivities are numerous and will be held on both the second and first floors of the Depot. Santa will be on the first floor and available for you to take your own photos with. We have a long list of creators and guests who will help us ring in the holiday spirit. The pop-up gallery on the second floor will feature original artwork and handmade gifts from Saloma Furlong, Mae Stoll, Laurence Heine, and Lynn Adams.

Red Wing Academy will share holiday music upstairs.
Don’t miss out on visiting with Santa!

As always, this event is free and open to everyone! Food and refreshments will be provided. Visit the event page and RSVP here.

Welcome to the Team, Mariya Chesnov!

Welcome to the Team, Mariya Chesnov!

There is a new face around the Gaines Group and we are happy to introduce our newest team member, Mariya Chesnov. Please help us welcome Mariya to the team and get to know her below.

Welcome to the team, Mariya Chesnov!

Originally from Ukraine, Mariya moved to the United States when she was two years old. She holds a special place in her heart for Ukraine, but considers Harrisonburg to be her home as she has grown up in this area.

Mariya has always felt a pull towards design and fell in love with architecture during her family’s travels to cities and countries abroad. She approaches her design work with intentionality and creativity and loves seeing the results of her work. In joining the Gaines Group, Mariya is proud to be a part of a team that focuses on sustainable design and making an impact in the greater community. She has already hit the ground running and is focused on supporting multifamily designs in our Charlottesville office.

Mariya is beginning her career in architectural design and is a graduate of Massanutten Technical School where she became certified in Architecture and Interior Design. She is also currently completing coursework at Blue Ridge Community College. During her studies, a professor noticed her talent and encouraged her to compete in architectural drafting. She undertook this challenge and successfully competed this past summer at the national level in Atlanta. At this competition, she was tasked to design a pocket community with certain specifications. She submitted a full set of plans including floorplans, elevations, wall sections, schedules, and a hand-drawn site plan of the entire layout. Her hard work landed her a top place finish at 5th place and helped jumpstart her career in the industry.

Outside of her career pursuits, Mariya enjoys being on the go and traveling whenever possible. She enjoys being active and loves to play volleyball in the summer and ski in the winter. She spends much of her time with family and friends and is very involved in her church where she helps with the kid’s choir.

Portrait of Mariya Chesnov at the beach

In sharing about herself, Mariya says “seeing growth and progress inspires me. Seeing kindness and being genuine inspires me. Most importantly, the life of Jesus Christ inspires me. It motivates me to continually improve and become a better person daily.”

Hope in the Future of Sustainable Design

Hope in the Future of Sustainable Design

Charles has the pleasure of speaking about building science and sustainable design in a variety of venues and to diverse groups of people. His years of experience speaking on these topics has given him an insightful perspective on the future of sustainable design and building. Below, he shares his thoughts on the future and the hope he feels in the progress to be made.

Charles discussing sustainable design to a group at VMRC.

I have been on a “lecture circuit” discussing building science and sustainable design since 2005 when I designed what would become, one of the first LEED Certified homes in the country. Ray Gaines is the architect of record for that project and our entire team was part of the process. As I continue to learn more about sustainability including the economics of climate change, I evolve in the knowledge I am capable to share. However, the building science basics have not changed in all that time. We have seen tremendous progress in what we can achieve in energy efficiency and healthy indoor environments, new products have entered our market to make some things easier, and we have found more and more demand for healthy, energy-efficient, and durable design solutions. The only thing that remains constant is the building science. 

One of the key things to understand when talking about sustainable design comes from a phrase I heard many times while attending UVA to study architecture: “We have not learned how to be good, just less bad.” The inherent nature of creating places for us to live, work, play is that we have a negative impact on the environment that existed before we got there. We dig a hole, use chemicals, cut down trees, use valuable resources to create and define a space. Don’t get me wrong, we have come a very long way since I began learning about sustainable design. Our solutions today are tremendously better than what we were doing in 2000 or even in 2005 when we used LEED for Homes to measure our success. We have better products that are softer on the environment. Our buildings are even more energy efficient. We better understand how to minimize our carbon footprint. We know how to better manage site disturbance. However, at the end of the process we are still not creating healthy regenerative environments that benefit the overall environment. Ultimately, we continue being “less bad”.

I think there is certainly hope for a future where we can build regenerative environments to live, work, and play. I see glimpses of it now with clean energy installations, vegetative walls and roofs, and biophilic design strategies. I see our industry moving towards holistic design solutions that acknowledge our contribution to climate change and environmental degradation and a desire to fix our problems. The AIA code of ethics in fact demands that all architects take up this challenge and design better and more holistic solutions. Even the building code minimums that we see numerous buildings built to meet has embraced the need for energy-efficiency to our carbon emissions. 

While we have no shortage of challenges ahead, I see many that are rising to meet them. I see architects coming together to figure out best practices and understand building science. There are new products coming to market that embrace a healthier future, some will work, and some will not, but we have to test and experiment to find the right path. I see hope in the generations ahead and their desire to take on these challenges and solve some big problems in new, inclusive, and holistic ways. We are moving in the right direction, slowly, but we are still moving.

Remembering Trevor Jones

Remembering Trevor Jones

It is with very heavy hearts we share that our team member and friend, Trevor Roman Jones passed suddenly on October 31, 2022. At the age of 31, his passing has left our team with a deep sadness and it has been difficult to find the words to express our grief. Below, Charles shares a few words in regards to the legacy Trevor leaves behind.

Trevor just celebrated 6 years with Gaines Group Architects. He was a member of New Store Baptist Church in Farmville, Virginia where he shared his musical talents in their choir. After graduating from Buckingham County schools, he continued his education at Hampton University to study architecture. His love of architecture grew out of Legos and his passion for listening, discerning, and then designing viable solutions to the problems faced in the world. He traveled an hour to work each day to the Charlottesville office working on a wide variety of project types. He also volunteered with VA NOMA (National Association of Minority Architects) helping to start the VA NOMA Project Pipeline project in 2021 and continuing with the program in 2022. This year, I participated with him and was able to see him in action as a featured speaker and mentor. Project Pipeline is a week-long mentorship program for middle and high school students that are interested in architecture. 

Trevor was recognized at a statewide architectural conference, Architectural Exchange, in Richmond this past week on Friday for his efforts along with VA NOMA to create the project pipeline program in Virginia. Trevor, young in his architectural career, was recognized not for his design work but rather for his love of others and dedication to helping young people explore a career in architecture. 

At the funeral, it struck me that almost everyone who spoke told us they felt like Trevor’s brother or sister. He treated us all like family. He did not care about who we were or the baggage we arrived with at his door. He opened his heart to anyone that he encountered with a big smile on his face. Trevor was the epitome of a southern gentleman, a man of style and grace. He was a Christian man who loved everyone who knew him. Our team and I are devastated at the loss of our friend and coworker. 

Trevor’s legacy will live on in the lives of all those he befriended, called his brother or sister, laughed with, and loved with his big heart. I will miss you dearly, friend. Tell Ms. Jones hello for me and if you see my mom, tell her I will be there once my work here is done.