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).

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