Gaines Group Harrisonburg: A serious contender for 2017’s Best Construction Blog

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gaines group harrisburg
A snapshot of one of the Gaines Group Harrisburg blog's postings

The Gaines Group Harrisonburg (harrisonburgarchitects.org) blog is a serious contender for the 2017 Best Construction Blog. It received three nominations — and at present leads in the popular vote with more than 26 per cent of voters selecting it.

The popular vote doesn’t determine the winner as independent judges evaluate the entries — but the judges generally consider only the top seven blogs and the popular vote results are included in the decision-making matrix. (The idea here is to respect the importance of reader interaction in the selection process, but to prevent very large organizations with many employees from stacking the results with overwhelming vote totals.)

So, then we get to the blog itself, and indeed it is impressive. Harrisonbug, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley had a 48,914 population in 2010 (Wikipedia). There’s plenty of history in the community and lots of opportunity for restorative heritage design.

Accordingly, I appreciated the updates on The LOFTS at 83 South Main — describing the challenges of a gut-out renovation project which ensured the site’s heritage nature remained intact.

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Exterior shot of 83 South Main — a heritage renovation project

However, this post outlining the relationship between the architect/designer and client touches on even more important points, which are relevant in communities of all ages and shapes. (I’ll publish it in full because it is relatively short and highly relevant.)

Listening is important, but telling your story comes first for good design

The process of design is emotional. It takes a lot of vulnerability, patience, and openness to get it right. I have spent the last 17 years working on being able to hear my clients. I hope each day and each project I get better at this skill.

When I design I am not imposing my likes on your design solution, I am trying to translate what you have told me into the design you really want. It may not look like the picture we both had in mind before the conversation. It may look completely different from what you expected, but if I am able to really hear you, it will be what you love. I will bring my experience and understanding of design to the solution. I will push you to decide what you like and don’t like in the design options. I will challenge you to make sure we have the design just right before we settle on a solution. This is what we do.

The only way I can HEAR however is for you to be able to tell your story openly and as vulnerable as possible. You have to share open and honestly with me what you want. You have to be able to say yes and no to various options. Your job as the client is to tell your story and my job is to translate that into design. This is how custom design is different from purchasing an existing home. This is what sets apart your business interior from others. This is how you create a sense of place that is just right for you.

Although this post isn’t signed with an individual’s name, the overall practice is led by architect Charles Hendricks.

There’s much diversity in this blog’s content; and there is an intriguing, effective design (appropriate for the business). Based on its overall quality and the popular vote, I’m quite confident it will make the short list for finalist review, though I will stand back from the final judging decision.)

You can vote at this link until March 31. Select one or several blogs, but you only have one ballot.

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