We get involved in some really cool and interesting design-build projects. This tilt-up concrete project is a milking facility in Rockingham County just outside of Harrisonburg. Talk about state of the art, the systems in this building are incredible. Our role was to design the exterior of the structure and layout the equipment designs supplied by other companies.
The structure of the building is tilt-up concrete with a textured finish to appear like stone. The goal presented by the clients was to create a classic barn look so that the facility fit with existing on the property.
The most innovative solution in this project from an architectural stand point was the integration of tilt-up walls with metal building roof and sophisticated milking equipment.
The pure scale of this structure cannot be realized without walking through it. At full capacity over 4,000 cows could be milked per day. Our projects are diverse which keeps life interesting. This is one of the most unusual we have ever been involved with over the years.
Do you judge someone by how they dress? What about how they talk? Does the car they drive make a difference?
I started thinking about these concepts today after a question was posed by a writer developing a story on green renovations. How do you find a designer that really understands green design? I intentionally wear green shirts most days (no I don’t think this gives me any credibility, but I do like the color green). There are multiple certifications, but how does a client really know which add value? If you ask any architect in town, they will tell you they do green design. Almost every builder I know will tell you they understand green building. So what can a typical client look for in a designer and contractor to determine their level of knowledge?
I would first start with asking for past experience. What other projects have they worked on and what were the green goals? Were the green goals achieved and what has been the real-time results from the clients? Ask for references so you can talk to those past clients. They will know if the house is working the way the designer and builder intended it. Look for certifications, has your design team done EarthCraft training, are they a LEED AP (or a LEED GA), have they done building science training courses? Ask them questions about how they will measure success. While there is a lot of green washing in the industry, there are people who understand building science and can add value to your project. I am happy to talk to you about things to look for in a designer and builder, give me a call.
Is it the percentage of jobs in the local economy that exist in locally owned businesses? Or is it the ability for your community to be self-reliant for things such as food, shelter, energy, and water? Do you look for vibrant businesses that understand community support is more than donating a check once a year to a non-profit? Do you look at activities available for youth in the community? Or are there other factors in your measurement of success like a vibrant arts community, deep relationships between neighbors, a system of support when there is someone in need, diversity, walkability, a sense of place?
Hopefully your measure of success is not just about what you are doing, but rather how your community is doing. Looking at Rockingham County I can tell you that we have a lot of success. We still have work to do, but our community is strong and our systems of support are forming if not already in place. In downtown Harrisonburg, there is a support system for businesses that offers many ways to celebrate your business successes as well as support your daily operations. The Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is more than just a network of businesses, it is a tool to promoting and feeding success in the downtown community. The local food network, already vibrant with the success of the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, the Broadway Farmer’s Market, True and Essential Meats, Shank’s Bakery, the Little Grill, has now grown to include the Friendly City Food Co-op. There is a sense of community that is tied together through religious heritage, through school loyalty, through generation after generation running the family business. There is a support network for the homeless, for children, for immigrants. We are a community living together and looking for ways to support each other.
So what do you think we are missing in our community that will bring more success? What do you need from the community? How can we bring the vibrance that is being experienced in downtown Harrisonburg to all the surrounding communities in the Valley? How can we become a self-reliant community that produces the energy, food, and resources that we need to survive? I believe we need to pull together and work towards a sustainable future to continue our success. We need a holistic vision that we all know, understand, and work towards to have a truly successful community. We need to look at success through the eyes of our neighbors and not just what we need individually.
It is time for our community to focus on the ‘sense of place’ that is Rockingham County. We need to support local businesses that keep the money and resources in our community. We need to lift up our neighbors and offer a hand when they are in need. So what did you do today to pay it forward and grow more success for our community?