Grist for the Mill: Q&A with George Givens

Grist for the Mill: Q&A with George Givens

George Givens, a Project Superintendent at O&G Industries, has deep experience in construction projects at independent schools. In a recent interview, he offered these details about O&G’s work at Miss Porter’s School Admissions Office.

Q: Independent schools are known for historic structures. What was the background of this particular site?

GG: The Admissions Office was originally a Grist Mill, built right on the Farmington River in around 1670. It was used to grind wheat and corn and it played a huge role in the community throughout history. Then it was an upscale restaurant before it became Miss Porter’s Admissions Office.

Q: What were some of the challenges it presented?

GG: It was intact, but it was 6 inches out of square and 3 inches out of level. The walls were out of plumb. We had to make everything look right. Ceiling heights made it nearly impossible to get doors inside the office spaces.

Q: Did making things look right to involve blending the old and the new?

GG: Yes. We had some beautiful yellow pine flooring and found a way to repurpose it in other parts of the building to tie everything together and make it flow. It really maintained a consistent feel in the office.

Q: Renewable energy, especially solar, in independent school construction is a hot topic right now.

GG: Absolutely. Sometimes there are historic restrictions that make it impossible to install things like solar panels where you want to. But we were able to include solar in the Admissions Office design. And we made sure that when a visitor comes down the hill they can see those solar panels right away. It’s a statement about Miss Porter’s commitment to sustainability.

Q: What are the most important things to remember about working with independent schools on campus construction projects?

GG: Every day, they’re trying to sell that campus to a student and their parents. Independent schools need to showcase their ability to provide better education and the environment is a huge part of that. If our work is good, we give them a competitive advantage and they’ll say, “Come back again, O&G.”