Reblog from Firmability.com
When you think about architecture your mind often goes to signature works that stand up and mark a moment in history. You think about those forms that appear to be a symphony captured in place and time. You remember those famous buildings that grace the cover of magazines, mansions on the hill, modern sculptures that people inhabit. Architecture is often thought to be lofty, prestigious, and elite.
The Gaines Group, plc, an architectural firm in Virginia, is trying to break that stereotype. Architect Charles Hendricks, AIA, CSI, CDT, LEED AP reminds us of the firm’s mantra: Everyone Deserves Good Design. In a profession that often does not place high value on durability, energy efficiency, or functional solutions, The Gaines Group is changing the questions being asked, the solutions being provided, and the definition of what an architect delivers.
The firm was founded in 1987 when Raymond E. Gaines, AIA, FCSI, CCS was ‘kicked’ out of the door of the design build firm where he began his career fresh out of Virginia Tech’s Architecture Program. He decided at that point (picking up his former employer as one of his main clients) that the goal for his career was to be a unique kind of architectural firm. He wanted to deliver functional solutions that were easy to build, practical, and affordable. He states “I want to see that our work made a difference and the community is a better place for it.” His attitude towards design has led to multiple affordable housing solutions, senior housing projects, and many happy clients over the last 25 years.
Adding Charles Hendricks to the firm in 1999 their reputation grew to include the term: green designers. Charles is a thought leader in the industry for sustainable design and the firm quickly became known for their LEED, Earthcraft, and Energy Star projects under his direction. Building on Ray’s knowledge of practical construction details and working with a full understanding of building science the firm won the “best green designers” award in 2008, the Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2008 and 2009, and the “best green residential renovation” award in 2011 for their dedication to sustainable design. This practical approach to design that delivers energy efficient, healthy and durable solutions is the foundation of their current success.
The firm’s dedication to the community does not stop at the design phase, they are known community leaders that volunteer their time, skills, and knowledge to many non-profit organizations. This dedication to community health has allowed them to grow their firm to include a second office (Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, Virginia) during the worst economy in the history of the business. As partner Roger Bryant states: “our clients deserve us to make balanced well thought out decisions to be able to serve them to the best of our abilities.” Adding the Harrisonburg office in a time of recession was a risky move for the firm, but it has paid off with many new clients and tremendous opportunities to make a difference in another community. Charles now runs the Harrisonburg office and he quickly got involved with numerous community organizations as well as providing professional services to several non-profits in the area that were in need of design assistance.