Top 15 Blog Posts of 2023

Top 15 Blog Posts of 2023

2023 has been full of community events, new and on-going projects, service opportunities, first Friday art openings, learning, meeting new people, and general office fun. Needless to say, there was plenty to blog about.

Below we’ve compiled our top 15 blog posts of 2023. Click on each link or picture to check them out!

#1 Gaines Group Architects Elevates New Partners

We rang in the 2023 New Year with the exciting news that many of our team members became partners. It’s no surprise that Gaines Group Architects Elevates New Partners has topped our blog charts of 2023.


#2 Casa Cielo: Blending the in-between spaces

This contemporary glass house is not only aesthetically beautiful but the story behind the design is meaningful too. Visit Casa Cielo: Blending the in-between spaces to view the rich colors and read the inspiration behind this custom home.


#3 Harrisonburg Headquarters

With the addition of new partners came the official naming of the Harrisonburg office location as the Gaines Group Architects headquarters. The Harrisonburg Headquarters ribbon cutting and celebration was filled with community, food, drinks, and artists galore.


#4 Should you install Solar PV on your Roof? Part 1

After seeing a flood of questions on social media about Solar PV (Photovoltaic), we asked one of our Architects, Charles Hendricks, and Eric Beck, owner Green Hill Solar, a Solar PV company, to answer a few of them. Should you install Solar PV on your Roof? Part 1 has a wealth of information on Solar Pv for your home and is the first of a two part blog series.


#5 #Hilltop House is in the final days of construction

This beautiful custom home garnered a following as it developed. Even in the construction phase, the #Hilltop House is in the final days of construction blog post shows the artistry of the modern, industrial materials bringing a warm character to the home.


#6 Celebrate the women of Gaines Group Architects #InternationalWomensDay

On #InternationalWomensDay we Celebrated the Women of Gaines Group Architects: Adrienne, Deborah, Carla, Mariya, and Asha (team additions since are also Aliyah and Aimee)! We appreciate them every day, but especially on International Women’s Day we took the opportunity to celebrate them and all of the knowledge, diversity, and skills that they bring to Gaines Group Architects and the community.


#7 Black Women in Architecture

In Black Women in Architecture, team Designer Aliyah D. White shares her experience going into the architectural field, the struggles that women of color experience in the industry, and what women of color bring to the architectural table.


#8 Project Update: Meadow Branch Apartments Phase II

Meadow Branch is one of our latest multi-family projects, and it has some unique features, including a dog spa, permeable pavers, and the preservation of many on-site trees! To see some of the incredible drone pictures from KBS and to read more about the special features, visit Project Update: Meadow Branch Apartments Phase II.


#9 Aging In Place – Part 1: Where to begin?

Aging In Place Part 1: Where to begin? is the first of a two-part series. In this blog, Asha breaks down the basics with a summary of an Aging in Place interview episode of certified aging-in-place specialist, Charles, and Beth Bland of Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS) on the WSVA Early Mornings podcast. This design is all about making a home adaptable as we all inevitably age and abilities change. No matter who you are, this is a must-read.


#10 Should you install Solar PV on your Roof? Part 2

Part 1 was so popular that we had to continue with Should you install Solar PV on your Roof? Part 2. This blog post expands on the first in the series to help give you the information you need to decide if installing solar is for you.


#11 Sometimes Being an Architect is a Roller Coaster

Charles gives his perspective on the challenging yet rewarding emotional nature of architecture in Sometimes Being an Architect is a Roller Coaster.


#12 #hilltophouse is complete

Click #hilltophouse is complete for pictures of the finished custom home, Hilltop House.


#13 Thinking of Building a Custom Home? Start Here First!

Thinking of Building a Custom Home? Start Here First! is a well visited blog, and it consistently makes it to our top lists each year. Although it’s not a blog post written in 2023, we include it because it’s your go-to resource guide for beginning your custom home.


#14 Time to Renovate Your Home? Here are some things to consider when doing a renovation and addition.

Another blog post that consistently ranks high on the “most-visited” scale each year is Time to Renovate Your Home? Here are some things to consider when doing a renovation and addition. This is your go-to resource guide for renovations and additions.


#15 How often in a day do you get to use your soul? How Sambo changed my life as an architect.

Finally, number 15 is: How often in a day do you get to use your soul? How Sambo changed my life as an architect. Charles writes about the impact of Sambo on his architectural career, realizing that he could marry his love of problem solving and design with his desire to serve others in my community

Red Wing Academy at First Friday

Red Wing Academy at First Friday

Red Wing Academy is back this year to play music for our special Holiday and First Friday event on Friday, December 1st from 5:00 – 7:00pm. We absolutely love supporting and partnering with Red Wing Academy each year, and it is such a pleasure to get to host a small group of these talented students each year for our holiday celebrations.

Red Wing Academy is hosted by Eric Brubaker of The Steel Wheels as a four-day intensive camp, leading up to a performance on-stage with the band at Red Wing Roots Music Festival. It’s open to non-beginner violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, mandolin and banjo students ages 5 – 19. Students receive individual and group instruction from highly trained music teachers and are coached by members of The Steel Wheels throughout the week. It’s an incredible opportunity to play with and learn from music experts.



Gaines Group Architects sponsors the camp each year as a way to support the next generation of musicians in our community. A focus on musical instruction not only teaches kids how to play, but studies have shown that it accelerates brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain that are responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception, and reading skills.

Red Wing Academy string players.

Below, read more about Red Wing Academy and see clips of their performances at EMU and on-stage at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival.

“We see the old lines between instruction and play dissolving, bringing the spirit of traditional American music into the classroom, and fusing the culture of festivals with expert training in string instruments and live performance.
Red Wing Academy’s mission is to nurture both the wings and the roots of the newest generation of old time musicians. We provide emerging, student musicians with the skills, talents, and community to go beyond classical training into the culture of improvisational performance and group play, the hallmark of a genre that has always celebrated spontaneity and place as part of its sound and tradition.”


This event is free and open to everyone. Refreshments will be served, there will be artists and craft vendors, and there will be opportunities to take photos with Santa himself! We look forward to seeing you there, and you can RSVP at our event page here.

2023 Rotary Golf Tournament

2023 Rotary Golf Tournament

‘Tis the season of golf tournaments! On Saturday, Paul participated in the 2023 Rotary Golf Tournament at Heritage Oaks Golf Course to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Charlottesville. It was a beautiful day to compete together and support an amazing organization.

For those that are unfamiliar with the Ronald McDonald House of Charlottesville, their “primary mission… is to provide lodging for the families of pediatric patients while the children are receiving medical treatment at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. The House offers an affordable, calm, comfortable haven – a home away from home – for its guests. For exhausted parents, who are already stressed by the illness of their child, it is a place where families can relax, eat together, and find support from other parents who are in similar situations.” We thank them for everything that they do.


Pictured below from left to right: Mike Wolfe of Simpson Strong-Tie, Paul (Principal of our Charlottesville location), Blake Gordon of Titan America Roanoke Cement Company, Eli Strauss of Strauss Construction.

For more information on the Ronald McDonald House Charlottesville and for ways that you can get involved, check out their website here.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Mini-Golf for Kids’ Sake 2023

Big Brothers Big Sisters Mini-Golf for Kids’ Sake 2023

This past Friday The Gaines Group team in Harrisonburg had the privilege of supporting the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) through some competitive mini-golf. It was a beautiful afternoon to get out into the sunshine to compete against each other in some (mostly) friendly competition.

Aimee, Deborah, Mariya, Jarod, and Asha at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mini-Golf fundraiser.

This year our team split into two groups to compete for the lowest combined group score and a group lunch out. Team one, Par Vacation, was led by Interior Designer Jarod, with the dynamic marketing duo Charles and Asha. Team Two was led by Designer Mariya, Architect Deborah and Designer Aimee. Highlights include two hole-in-one’s by Mariya who backed up her smack talk, one hole-in-one by Asha which earned her a free dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme, an embarassing amount of 7-strokes on a hole, and two balls fished out from the water. In the end, though it was close, Team Par Vacation pulled out the win by 5 strokes. 

Jarod puts the ball during mini-golf.

Regardless of the score, we were thrilled to be a part of this event and support such an amazing cause! For more information about BBBS check out what you can do to get involved in your community!

Celebrating 2022 Architecture Fun!

Celebrating 2022 Architecture Fun!

We loved celebrating together in 2022 all the architecture fun things, special days, and events! We are a small team and many of us have been together for many years understanding the overall goals of the firm and joining together to achieve them. We look for ways to infuse fun into every project while supporting our community and each other.

This year several of us kicked off the new year by attending the Young Architect Winter Series. This gathering of like minded designers focused on making us better people so we can be the best architects possible. Read more here.

young architect winter series

January 26 marked National Shelfie Day – see what we have on our shelfs here.


February 9th we joined together to celebrate #NationalPizzaDay by sharing some slices.

February 17th we celebrated kindness on #nationalactsofkindnessday

March 8th we celebrated the women of the firm on #internationalwomensday including Adrienne, Deborah, Annie

In April we celebrated the beautiful spring weather by playing in the Eastern Mennonite School golf tournament.

May 7 we celebrated #NationalTrainday at the Depot by remembering Tinky Bryant.

May 15th we celebrated James for #nationalpoliceweek

Pictures of James to celebrate national police week.

June 17th #nationalmascotday, want to see Charles with the Virginia Tech mascot – a lot of people requested it.

In June, the Harrisonburg Urban Forestry Program partnered with Rocktown Urban wood to host a birdhouse build day and we had the chance to design the birdhouse!

building birdhouses

In June we celebrated Deborah’s graduation from the Harrisonburg Rockingham Chamber of Commerce Leadership traning program: leadership graduation

June 21 we looked back at some of our projects that feature amazing natural lighting #NationalDaylightAppreciation

At the end of June we all gathered to wish Roger well in his retirement.

Ray and Roger

In September several of us attended the Fan the Flame Auction to support our client Eastern Mennonite School.

In September we were able to support Big Brother Big Sisters by playing a round of mini-golf together.

Charles joined other Rotarians to assist with a Give Solar barn raising in September.

Give Solar Barn Raising

Sept 16 Many of us in the office balance being parents and architects and this marked the day to celebrate #NationalWorkingParents

Adrienne holding child while working

Each month of the years from March – December we celebrate local arts with our First Friday gallery openings.

August marked the return of the Sing me high festival hosted at the Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center – another of our clients.

Oct 3 was #worldarchitectureday and we celebrated healthy and happy designs that build a better future for all.

In October we joined the Rocktown Energy Fair to help cut our community carbon footprint and share energy efficiency strategies with the community.

October featured #teamErika, the team we sponsored for Fake Singing, Real People, supporting a great cause: Any Given Child.

WMRA Book and Brews is held at Pale Fire Brewing company and we sponsor the event. We have had some amazing authors.

We sponsor the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale each year and Deborah volunteers! So much good food for a good cause.

October Charles joined the EMS We Serve club to pick up trash along Rt. 42.

We had plenty of opportunities to learn more from industry expects while sharing lunch.

The Pints for Polio event was a great time to come together to support Rockingham Rotary Club and help fund Polio vaccinations around the world.

Oct 15 was #universalmusicday and we all shared what we were listening to with Annie compiling it into one playlist.

We also got to visit a Job site this Fall while getting some photos of this beautiful home we designed.

HDR’s Celebration this year took place in November celebrating many incredible people and projects supporting downtown.

HDRs Celebration

November featured a tour of Explore More Museum.

Touring Explore More Museum

Dec 23 we aired our grievances to celebrate Festivus

December Charles stuffed stockings with EMS We Serve club.

EMS We Serve Club stuffing stockings.

Christmas at the Depot was an amazing party again this year!

Finally in late December we all came together for a party with our families! It was a really good year and this was a really good way to celebrate it!

office party with families. People around a pool table

Happy Festivus!

Happy Festivus!

Happy Festivus!

While most of us around here are swept away in the excitement of this holiday season, we playfully enjoy airing our grievances in honor of Festivus. Our new years resolutions are being carefully crafted but in the meantime, it sure does feel good to get some of these grievances off our chest. Let us know if you can relate to any of these or what else is on your list!

Deborah: “I only have two hands, so I can only walk two dogs at a time…or else I’d adopt a passel of them.” 

Annie: “three words; Ticketmaster & Taylor Swift. Also worth mentioning, can the tripledemic be done now and why is self-check out at the grocery store seemingly the only option these days?”

Charles: get ready for a long list! “Supply chain brokenness, can we just go ahead and fix it already? Left lane slowness, I have places to go, move over people. Why is daylight savings still a thing? Starting work before dark and finishing in the dark makes no sense. As always, lack of good design is at the top of my grievances, plain and simple, hire an architect. Air permeable insulation is a waste of energy, vapor barriers in the wrong places is just wrong- let it dry out. Lastly, anyone who doesn’t love grumpy architects because we are the best. It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous!”

Adrienne: “Toddlers who ask for food to then only take one bite and say ‘ew, yucky’, especially when that food is at a restaurant and you paid for their dinner. Dogs that act completely blind and deaf in the house but then coincidentally know exactly when a neighbor is walking a block away and needs to sound the alarm and bark! Also, our cars, for constantly giving us new reasons they need to be replaced, but also being so expensive to purchase right now. Lastly, I’m looking at you Netflix. Why do you give me an option with ads that I sincerely dislike but am too frugal to pay more to get ride of them? Oh and one more, laundry, because it’s laundry.”

Carla: “Bloop tone (not the frozen yogurt store) and robo calls. A forecast of snow but then it rains will always be at the top of disappointments. Lastly, when your car thinks there is someone in the empty passenger seat and the fasten seatbelt warning comes on. Enough!”

Not sure about you, but those of us who aired our grievances feel like we took a big exhale and are ready for both the exciting opportunities frustrating small moments ahead. Give it a try and let us know what is on your list. Happy Festivus from the rest of us!