Meyer Civil Engineering, Inc. was awarded this contract to provide design development, construction documents and construction assistance for the construction of the Mill House located at 17th Street on the east side of the Kern Island Canal. The 1,001 square foot wood-framed building showcases a cogeneration facility using a custom designed water wheel and sluice, restroom facilities, wet bar, loft, Wi-Fi, and patio. The groundbreaking of the $940,000 structure was in November of 2012 and the Mill House was opened in July of 2013 adding the final, crowning piece to the Mill Creek Linear Park Project.
The waterwheel is the main focus of this building, showcasing a means of electrical generation that was used in the original mill house. The waterwheel's unique design allows for the water to flow through the base of the wheel as opposed to the more traditional overhead delivery system. Richard Meyer's canal-fed sluiceway and efficient waterwheel design gives the structure a sleek, modern appearance, yet still holds to the historical feel of the Mill House. Water is diverted from the canal via a sluiceway pushing water to the paddles on the wheel causing it to rotate. The center shaft is connected to a gear box which in turn converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, powering a portion of the Mill House.
The mechanical room houses the waterwheel power system. Designed by MCE along with consulting electrical engineer, E. Michael Louden, the system includes gear boxes, alternators, tachometers, inverters and a battery bank. The mechanical room is fronted with reinforced glass doors allowing visitors to observe the process of water-generated electricity.
Richard Meyer used photos of the original mill house from the early 1900's to develop a modern building that reflects many of the elements one would find in structures of that period. The rock facade buildup on the first floor, the wood framed and finished second story, and capping it off with a metal standing seam roof the building looks like it was built in a prior century. On the west side resides the water wheel. On the south side is a rock-walled enclosure for the trash and mechanical. The north and east sides boast of a sweeping veranda, custom wood doors at the entrances, a custom "tulip" patterned wrought iron railing and rock-faced columns.
When asked to develop interior finishing for the Mill House, MCE staff began researching various materials and features that would compliment the historical theme of the building's exterior and yet provide ease of maintainance. We started with 10 x 12 timbers for our lower stairs and added wrought iron railing between 6 x 6 railing posts, incorporated the Mill Creek "paddle wheel" design into guardrail panels, and used an open beam ceiling construction with lighting fixtures giving it an industrial feel. The wainscotting and chair rail continues the historic character. The Mill House is equipped with restroom facilities and wet bar amenities. The upper floor is finished with engineered wood flooring, while the main floor is colored and finished concrete. All elements used for the interior finishes were chosen carefully to reflect the historic personality of the original mill house.
To the east of the Mill House is a small patio with raised planters and seating. It was designed to shield views of the house from the 17th Street cul-de-sac. 19-inch square concrete bollards with fence panels were placed between the roadway and the landscaping as a safety precaution. The trees, landscaping, and planter add to that element as well. This area can be used in conjunction with the Mill House as a place for small, intimate gatherings and events.
The sluiceway for the waterwheel was designed and stub outs were set in place during the Mill Creek canal's construction. When work began on the Mill House one of the first items of construction was the sluiceway which runs along the bank of the canal.