For fifty years, engineering and architectural firm George, Miles & Buhr, LLC (GMB) has provided award-winning civil, structural, and architectural design services from offices in Salisbury and Baltimore, Maryland, along with Seaford, Delaware. 2010 marks the golden anniversary of the firm, along with a transition in leadership.
James R. Thomas, Jr., P.E., CEO of GMB, has seen much change in his 40 years with the firm. “Technology is transforming everything. But the key to continued success will be fusing cutting edge knowledge with personal relationships, which we strive to do everyday.”
At the forefront of innovative technology is GMB’s Water/Wastewater Engineering Division. The division designed the first operational Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) wastewater treatment plants in both Maryland and Delaware. Today, GMB has designed 25% of the approximately 70 significant facilities operating under BNR or ENR technologies in Maryland and Delaware, all of which drain into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. GMB is also a leader in Membrane Bio-Reactor (MBR) technology for wastewater treatment, having designed the first such municipal facility in Delaware, winner of the 2009 Delaware ACEC Grand Conceptor Award for Engineering Excellence.
GMB is also a leader in sustainable design and stewardship of the environment around the Chesapeake Bay and throughout the Delmarva Peninsula. A commitment to sustainable design principles for every project resulted in the creation of a new Division focusing on stormwater best management practices and sustainable site design. As water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays continued to decline, new regulations were implemented to modify stormwater management strategies. These Environmental Site Design techniques focus on micro-practices to maintain existing site hydrology and minimize the release of pollutants downstream. GMB has pioneered innovative stormwater management solutions for more than a decade.
GMB’s Civil Engineering Division was instrumental in bringing sanitary sewer service to large portions of the southern Delaware and Maryland coasts. GMB’s participation as the lead engineer for the new West Rehoboth Sanitary Sewer District for Sussex County, Delaware in the 1990’s was groundbreaking. The $88-million project was, at the time, the largest non-Federal infrastructure project in the State.
Post-tensioned concrete design is a staple of the GMB Structural Engineering Division, and is a skill that few Delmarva firms offer. Post-tensioning is used to create innovative concrete components that are thinner, longer, and stronger than traditional products. GMB recently employed this design technique for the new Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland.
The firm is proud of its collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine to bring Pediatric AIDS Clinics to countries throughout Africa and Europe. This work began in 1998, and continues today under the direction of A. Reggie Mariner, Jr., P.E., Director of Structural & Marine Engineering, who makes frequent trips to Africa to oversee this effort.
Architecturally, GMB has designed many innovative local buildings, including the Oncology Building at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, which housed the first linear accelerator in the region. GMB’s Parkside High School design accommodated over 1,200 Wicomico County students, and was the first County school to have a planetarium.
GMB is thankful to have served the Maryland, Delaware and Virginia area over the past 50 years, and to have flourished under the exceptional leadership of Thomas, who joined the firm in 1969 and has served as President for 20 years. Thomas and the Board of Directors have selected James H. Willey, Jr., P.E. to lead GMB into the firm’s next chapter.
Willey joined GMB in June 1996, serving as project manager and Land Development Division Leader in the Salisbury office. Willey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College and holds professional registrations in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. He has over 25 years of consulting engineering experience.
Thomas and Willey are working diligently to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Thomas will remain with the firm as Director of External Affairs until the end of 2010, at which time he will retire. However, his decades of experience will only be a phone call away. “In the future, I may serve as a consultant if the firm has a need.” Thomas says.
40 years in the industry has left Thomas with valuable insights. “It is always an exciting time when you come out of a recession, even this one, which may be the worst in memory. We are thinking of what will propel us into the next growth cycle, providing services that our clients need, and want, and that we can do well.“
These services include providing owners with better total project scope and cost information at project initiation, and potentially partnering with construction specialists.
“The most important trend coming out of this recession will be meeting the water and energy needs of the growing population,” Thomas says. “This means exploring alternative energy sources, and protecting the surrounding waters through nutrient reduction, wetlands management, and environmental site design practices.”