Tribute to Roger N. Bryant

Tribute to Roger N. Bryant

Written by Raymond E. Gaines.


Tribute to Roger N. Bryant



Roger Bryant, who spent over half his life with The Gaines Group, passed away peacefully on May 25, 2024.  Roger’s life embodied creativity, adventure, family, and faith, but not in that order.

Roger was a man of deep faith.  When I first met and hired him, the list of hobbies on his employment application included Gospel singing with his family as item number one.  The depth of his faith became apparent to me as I got to know him over the 33½ years that we worked together.

Roger was a family man, even though he remained single his entire life.  He often spoke of his love of family when he would talk about his nieces and nephews and his relationships with his parents, grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles.  Roger was always there for them as they navigated the good times as well as the illnesses and tragedies of life.  He participated in at least three family reunions annually, and typically organized the Labor Day gathering at the family home.  He also spoke fondly of the times he spent on the Cowpasture River and at Douthat State Park each year with his family.

Roger was a world traveler.  When I first met him, he had just returned from Europe.  He spoke of multiple trips to Europe and “the islands”, often traveling to sing with the family.  He visited The UK, Germany, and Russia over the years that we worked together, and told many amusing stories arising from these trips.  When he retired, he was following his brother-in-law, Bob, on his quest to run marathons in all fifty states, watching the races with his sister, Belva.  I do not know if he ever completed that particular quest.

Finally, Roger was a talented designer and mentor.  His hands-on knowledge of building materials and his ability to use them in aesthetically and stylistically pleasing ways is a talent that few possess.  Roger was comfortable with any style, particularly with Virginia Vernacular.  His body of work also includes Georgian, French Provincial, Prairie, Contemporary (whatever that is) and a touch of Art Deco.  He would always share that with our younger staff.  You have most likely touched Roger’s work from his years as an industrial designer prior to 1989.

Roger’s design talent was not limited to just the built world but he was a genius at floral arranging.  He did the flowers for multiple weddings over the years, and would personally arrange sympathy flowers when they were called for.

He was a loyal friend and colleague from the day he started work in January 1989 until his retirement at the end of June 2022.  He watched my three daughters grow up, and mentored one of them as an interior designer.  He provided a living example to them, and all of us, of how to be a Christian in today’s world.

Rest in peace my friend.

Architect Mom

Architect Mom

By Architect, Adrienne Stronge.

Architecture can be a demanding profession.  There are deadlines, client demands, and even construction emergencies.  Design also has a way of infiltrating your very existence, and it can be impossible to shut off your brain when you’re trying to solve a particularly complicated problem (often solved at 3am or in the shower as you turn your vision around and around in your head).  It is very hard, if not impossible, to only be an architect from 9-5 on weekdays. 

It becomes even more difficult when babies are added to that picture.  I was 14 years into my career before I had my son, who was born in 2020.  My world turned inside out because while my job / career had been my primary focus for over a decade, now I was hyper-focused on this tiny little babe who had me wrapped around his finger. His sister joined us in 2023, and they bring me more happiness than I ever expected. 


Even with the tremendous support of my spouse who is our stay-at-home parent, balancing my career with being a mom is tough.  I love what I do, but I’m also determined to always make my time at home count.  My kids are already growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss out on time with them.  A few things that help me:

Find your village

Your village may be family, friends, neighbors, or even a network of other parents online (there is both a Parents in Architecture and a Mothers in Architecture group on Facebook).  Figure out where you can go to vent or ask questions. Any time we’ve needed help, we’re always surprised at just how big that village can be. 

Establish and communicate priorities

Family always comes first, but there are days / weeks where I need to invest extra time into work to make things happen.  I try to clearly communicate with my family the times I might be busy.  Conversely, there are times that family priorities get posted to the calendar so that work knows that I am unavailable at those times.  


Delegate and outsource

It’s impossible to do everything.  Even with one parent at home, we find ourselves short on time to tackle everything. Being comfortable delegating work to a team member or outsourcing household or yard tasks is important.  My husband and I have always been hands-on DIYers, but now with kids, we recognize we can’t do it all and have hired help for portions of our to-do list. At work, finding or training a person you can easily delegate tasks to is important. 


Establish routines

Kids thrive on routines and while I’m the first to break routines on the weekends, we have a pretty good routine during the week.  I always get some snuggles in the morning before going to work, and unless there is a rare event, I’m home for bedtime routines. 

Make time at home count

While it’s tough to be active and engaged after a long day at the office, I try to cram a lot of fun things into our weekends.  I keep track of a lot of local events and playgroups so that we can have fun together.  If I need to work, I try to push it until after the kids have gone to bed. We have already made a lot of great weekend memories!

With architecture being a profession that changes based on clients, jobs, and even design stage, and with kids changing every week as they grow and develop, finding a sustainable balance is something I’m sure will be a continuous struggle, but having a career I love and a family I adore makes it all worth finding that balance. 

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Holidays

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Holidays

During a recent weekend, my family and old friends gathered around my parents’ kitchen and blessed the food for the first Christmas party they have hosted since before the pandemic. My parents’ kitchen has always been more than just a place to feed the body. The conversations and laughter that have been shared while my mom whips up medal-worthy meals and my dad whips up his delicacies, like beanie weenie, are some of my favorite memories from growing up. For as long as I can remember, the kitchen has been the central part of the house I grew up in, and during the holidays the warmth I feel there extends to the many people we welcome in from the cold

Kitchen Addition wide angle

Frank Lloyd Wright believed that the hearth was the psychological center of the home. In the past the hearth was where families would gather around for warmth and cook their meals. But, as times have changed, it has become a bit obsolete as the anchor of the home. Central heating takes care of warmth, and the kitchen is now where meals are prepared and shared with loved ones. Someone, who I am sure was equally as wise as Frank Lloyd Wright, once claimed that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. So, as the location of where we make meals has shifted, so has the path to our hearts. 

kitchen, looking into the living room

Coming home for the holiday season means spending time with family, sharing meals, and catching up on life’s big and little events. The kitchen is often the busiest room in a home and because food is such an important part of familial culture and heritage, the kitchen becomes the most treasured room during the holidays. It is where recipes are passed onto the next generation and family history is made more vibrant amidst delicious smells and tastes. Opening the kitchen to the rest of the home not only increases functionality of the room, but it can also nurture greater interaction among family and friends.

wide-view of open floor plan. kitchen and second floor hill top house

The heart of your home may look very different from mine. We have designed kitchens that double as gathering spaces by using methods like opening them up to other living areas or adding large islands that can still conceal the mess that comes along with holiday cooking. Our work as designers is to ask you specific questions to figure out what would make your kitchen gathering space the dream you have always wanted. From renovation to new construction, we have seen so many different options and know what questions to ask to uncover just the right solution. In the gallery below, you can view a few of the kitchens that we have designed, each for a specific client’s needs.

So, as you gather together this year – if you find yourself thinking, “What if we made this little change?” give us a call to talk about your dream. We would love to help you figure out what is possible and what works best. We would love to help you enhance the heart of your home for future holiday seasons.

Mind Behind the Design: Adrienne Stronge

Mind Behind the Design: Adrienne Stronge

Adrienne with her husband Andrew and son Alister

If there is one thing we know to be certain, it’s that Adrienne Stronge is no stranger to hard work and setting big goals. As a licensed architect with 16 years of experience under her belt, Adrienne is a respected professional in our industry who credits her entry into architecture to small seeds that were planted throughout her life beginning as early as middle school.

Originally from West Point, Virginia, Adrienne grew up loving to read and research. Her first engagement with the world of architecture came when she participated in a governor’s school program that focused on researching historical regional houses. This experience of researching and building a house model planted a seed as she moved into high school and started paying more attention to the built environment. Also during this time, her family began buying and renovating houses which gave Adrienne a front-row seat to the ways small changes could dramatically affect the way a residence functioned. It was also during Adrienne’s high school career someone told her architecture was a “male profession” and that architecture school would be “too challenging” to get into. To that point, Adrienne fully accepted the challenge and earned early acceptance to one of the top architecture schools, the University of Virginia. Like all new challenges, doubt crept in and Adrienne recalls driving to UVA for the first time second-guessing her decision and the path ahead of her. Once she arrived, Adrienne immediately recalls a feeling of reassurance and an understanding that she was exactly where she needed to be.

Fast forward to her senior year at UVA, Adrienne was busier than she could have ever imagined. While taking a full course load, working four part-time jobs (you read that correctly, four!); she was also in the ecoMOD studio where her team built a modular house in an aircraft hangar. The house was built to be transported to Mississippi to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief and Adrienne traveled to the Gulf Coast three separate times to do relief aid and prep work for the Habitat House. Finding time for interviews was challenging and after talking to a few firms in the area, nothing was feeling like a good fit. That changed when, quite out of the blue, Ray Gaines reached out and asked her to interview at the Gaines Group. As it turns out, a former Gaines Group client who interacted with Adrienne referred her to the firm knowing she would be a good fit. Adrienne recalls the funny experience of not being able to find an interview time amongst all of her commitments and Ray asking her to spontaneously stop by on her way to work on the Habitat House. Ray said he didn’t expect her in interview attire and he wouldn’t hold it against her if and when she showed up in jeans with holes and liquid nail stains, and an old t-shirt. Although Ray was not expecting formal attire, he hadn’t mentioned it to Charles and Paul who questioned why the firm would be interested in hiring someone who showed up in a questionable outfit.

Adrienne officially became a Licensed Architect in 2022

Sixteen years into working at the Gaines Group and Adrienne is a licensed architect with a great depth of experience and a specialization in multi-family design. Her favorite part of being an architect is having an impact on the way people interact with the built environment. She has a special passion for designing environments that ensure accessibility for people of all abilities. This passion stems from a close relationship she had with a family member whose progressive disease confined him to a wheelchair. Adrienne was a first-hand witness to the challenges he navigated interacting with his built environment and the frustrations that came when his opportunities were limited due to accessibility limitations. For this reason, she especially loves working on multifamily projects where she gets to create whole communities with access for everyone throughout the site. These projects create unique challenges when considering accessibility, but Adrienne finds it extra rewarding to solve these design dilemmas. One of her favorite elements to design is accessible pools for people with all abilities to be able to safely enjoy. Additionally, she enjoys focusing on multifamily design as she gets to create smaller, efficient spaces that comfortably fit into an overall design goal while meeting budget constraints.

Outside of being an architect, Adrienne is busy with her family and hobbies. She has been married to her husband Andrew since 2007. Andrew is an artist and an illustrator known for live-printing and local comic-cons and together they travel to many of these local events. In 2020, they welcomed their son Alister to their family and the trips to comic shows have slowed down since having a toddler in tow. Their 16-year-old pug-mix Spudnik is also a beloved family member and together they love traveling and exploring new places. Adrienne has no shortage of hobbies and likes to unwind by reading from her large book collection and doing jigsaw puzzles. She and Andrew have a vintage robot and space toy collection that they enjoy “hunting” for at flea markets, antique stores, and yard sales. Andrew runs their small business buying and selling vintage toys, games, and books, both online and in their booths at a store in Richmond, VA (Odd Balls Collectibles).

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.

First Friday Christmas: December 3rd, 2021

First Friday Christmas: December 3rd, 2021

It is that time of year again and we are beyond excited to dive into another First Friday Christmas at the Chesapeake Western Depot. We are thrilled to get back to engaging with our community and getting back to what matters, building community. Santa once again returns to the R.S. Monger & Sons Window and Door Showroom and will be available for visits and pictures until 6:30 pm, First Friday Christmas will last until 7:00 pm there will also be drinks and cookies provided!

december first friday

We will also be featuring a pop-up art gallery in the upstairs offices, featuring Tony Distefano, Nicole Clatterbuck, and Lorie Mier! Please come enjoy the music of Red Wing Academy students upstairs at the Depot and purchase some presents from our artists! You can learn more about this event and RSVP to attend here!