Technology And Design

In case you haven't heard, Apple recently released a new technology called ARKit, allowing users to create "unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and interact with the real world in entirely new ways." Playing off of this new technology is a fun new tool for all the architects out there- an accurate, augmented reality virtual ruler! Using your phones camera, you can now throw away that heavy, bulky contraption known as a tape ruler and calculate distances in 3D. ArchDaily reported on this fun new tool, and even shared some video of what users can expect to see when the app is officially available. 

Another new technology I've become very interested in is reality capture. This uses scanning, digital photography, and drones. Coming from a marketing and business development perspective, these tools would clearly enhance our models, allowing us to include construction progress and analysis, and overall give a better perspective of the design world and how it unfolds. Can you say #winning?! 

Last but not least, I think it's important to note that architecture is evolving to include smart house technological advances. Amazon created "Alexa" and the Echo system, while Apple has "Siri" and these "bots" are now entering our homes, challenging architects to make these devices invisible when including them in the design. Even here at the CWM offices we operate with a Nest Learning Thermostat system! We love seeing the progress of integrating technology and the space is occupies in design, and wholeheartedly accept these game-changing challenges! 

Heard of a new technology changing the architecture world that we didn't mention here? Share it with us in the comments below! 

About the author: Darra is our Marketing Coordinator, and although she's not an architect herself she still finds the developments fascinating. She brings plenty of organization to the team, paired with an annoying obsession for turning things in on time (aka early), and a lot of loud laughter. 

Alternative Summer Fun

When you can go to the beach all summer, why not try something new and more meaningful on Independence Day? Architectural Digest came up with 18 of the most beautiful US Landmarks, and although they forgot to mention Buffalo on the list, we still think you should take a look! Here are some of our favorites from their list:

1. St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia

"In this historic building, Patrick Henry gave a speech that would spark the revolution leading to the United States’ independence from Great Britain. To really feel the power of "Give me liberty or give me death," reserve a seat in the church on July 4th for a full reenactment of Henry's inspiring words."


2. 1 World Trade Center and 9/11 Museum, New York City

"Standing a significant 1,776 feet tall and housing Condé Nast (and AD), 1 World Trade Center is the crown jewel of the New York City skyline and a beacon of resilience to Americans after the tragedies of 9/11. Visit the moving 9/11 Museum and the reflecting pools that stand in the footprints of the original Twin Towers, encircled by the names of those who lost their lives in the attacks."


3. The Hoover Dam, Nevada

"Built during the Great Depression, giving thousands of jobs to out-of-work Americans, the Hoover Dam is a revolutionary structure spanning 1,244 feet across Black Canyon to control flooding of the Colorado River."


4. Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida

"One small step for man, one giant leap for America! Take the day to explore the nation's pioneering advancements into space. While you’re there, grab some astronaut ice cream to get the full space experience."


Make sure you let us know if you choose any of these alternate routes for some summer fun!!

Historic Preservation Month: Redevelopment


In Buffalo, our historic architecture speaks to the growth of our industries, the impact it has had on our residential stock, and the eventual fall from that perch. The opportunity to resurrect that culture in a current time of growth and confidence in our city sets preservation as a top priority and becomes top of mind, especially during the month of May which is recognized nationally as Historic Preservation Month. 

In order to find a balance between past and present structural importance, one must understand that Preservation is an all-encompassing term that is improperly used for any project dealing with a building older than twenty-five years, but preservation projects can range anywhere from restoration to renovation to reconstruction type developments. 

Although new structures may seem simpler to design and implement, redeveloping historic structures allows us to create a result that is both charming and unique. 

Why is preservation important?

  • Economic incentives spur development of otherwise typically undevelopable buildings 
  • Job creation and spin off investment
  • Further understanding of the lineage of a location or building and the impact on society
  • Opportunity for the architect to engage in a design that interacts with history
  • Opportunity to regain confidence in our city

When first approaching a historic preservation development, if it is identified as a possible project, it is critical to determine if it is eligible for National Registry and therefore tax incentives. It is also important to consider how to make the project viable by inspecting the surroundings to determine what made the building deteriorate, deciding who should be the caretaker or developer of the building, and breaking down the building’s condition and character. 

What are the greatest challenges of preservation?

  • Perception: negative stereotypes of the approach as one that prevents change and growth can be hard to overcome 
  • Dependent on the project, problems could arise based on financing or the building’s stability
  • Architecturally speaking, it is difficult to establish a new paradigm in a building that was not designed for that purpose while maintaining a high level of preservation standards

What are the greatest outcomes?

  • Seeing a building left for demolition restored and brought back to operation
  • Seeing business thriving and the public enjoying the project 

With the right team in place, you can likely find a solution that manages all interests and results in the project being created. The Historic Tax Credit programs at the State and Federal level are to thank for the restoration of major commercial buildings. It is important to maintain these tax credits, as many historic projects are being completed by individuals who are investing without much help. The passion and commitment that many have for preserving our region’s buildings is irreplaceable and the rebirth of our city hinges on our ability to support these individuals. To learn more about the Historic Preservation efforts throughout Buffalo, or to find out how you can get involved, visit: The Preservation League of NYS at or The Landmark Society of WNY at

About the author: Steven Carmina is a Partner with Carmina Wood Morris, DPC an Architecture Engineering and Interior Design firm, and has been a Buffalo Niagara Partnership member for two years. Steve’s experience spans more than thirty years of planning, design, and project implementation for a diverse range of projects. An AIA member, Steve is also an active board member of Buffalo Place, March of Dimes, Buffalo Hearing & Speech, and Traffic on Main Street.

If TV Characters Were Architects

It's January in Buffalo, which means most of us take the rare gift of a snow-day and use that time to binge watch a show or movie on Netflix. I'm personally guilty of a binge-session or two, but watching this myriad of shows got me thinking- some of our favorite TV characters would make great architects!

Take Sherlock Holmes (from the show Sherlock, a series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories) for example. Sherlock's exceptional intellect and remarkable powers of observation would enable him to create architectural masterpieces that transcend conventional design techniques. 


Another character that would make an interesting architect is Dr. Derek Shepherd, from Grey's Anatomy. Not only did he design his own house on the show, but think of all the intricite architectural creations he could come up with using his immense knowledge of the inner workings of the human brain! 

grey's poster.jpg

Call me crazy, but I could even see Spongebob Squarepants making a name for himself in the architecture world! I mean who wouldn't want to live in a pineapple under the sea?!


Don't think we've forgotten about our female characters! Imagine if Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreation were an architect! Her determination and spunk alone would serve her well in the design world. Her desire to pursue a life of public service could certainly be served in the architecture field, perhaps in the historic preservation sector?! If all else fails I'm certain she'd design an excellent waffle house. 


What if you could take one of YOUR favorite television characters and make them an architect? Who would you choose? Let us know in the comments below! 

Recreating The Falling Water House

Our interiors department did an amazing job recreating Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water house out of gingerbread for the Millington Lockwood competition!! 

Breaking The Mold: Architect Barbie


If you're an avid follower of the CWM social media outlets, then you may have spotted our birthday celebration photo between Shark Girl and the CWM Barbie. Well that photo sparked our realization that some of you may not know that "Architect Barbie" actually originated here in Buffalo! Thanks to Despina Stratigakos and Kelly Hayes McAlonie, both architects working for University at Buffalo, Architect Barbie was taken from just an idea to the winner of the 2011 "I Can Be" doll line. According to a press release from UB, "Mattel was looking to highlight careers where women are underrepresented and 'architect' seemed to be the right fit." 

Barbie's Dream House may not be LEED certified, but this little architect certainly challenges the typical stereotype that many associate with the profession. Kelly Hayes McAlonie hoped it would create awareness of "the importance of design and the architectural profession" and "encourage architectural education in grade schools." 

I find inspiration to break the mold every day in the CWM offices, as we are fortunate to have eight talented ladies sharing their creativity with us. Coming from different backgrounds and experiences, our team is made up of the best of the best and we couldn't be more proud! I encourage you to visit the "Our Faces" section of our website to learn more about the women that make up the CWM team!

Why You Should Forget The Elevator

If you think you wanted to go all "Jetsons" on us and only ride some high-tech elevators, just wait until you see these staircases! Originally featured on Architizer, these innovative yet functional pieces of architecture will have you stepping up your stair game. 

Thanks to Hofman Dujardin Architects, this staircase became the centerpiece in the atrium of a renowned law firm near the Dutch Parliament. Click the photo for the full article showcasing the entire project.

Thanks to Hofman Dujardin Architects, this staircase became the centerpiece in the atrium of a renowned law firm near the Dutch Parliament. Click the photo for the full article showcasing the entire project.

Further research led us to the Travel section of the New York Times, where the staircase featured in the film "Midnight in Paris" caught our eye. We can't help but dream of the beautiful interior of the Church of Saint Etienne du Mont in the Latin Quarter.

This colorful creation, brought to you by Jeff Kahane + Associates, is only surpassed by its views of St. Paul's Cathedral and the London skyline. Again, click the image for the full project story!

This colorful creation, brought to you by Jeff Kahane + Associates, is only surpassed by its views of St. Paul's Cathedral and the London skyline. Again, click the image for the full project story!

Buzzfeed has us perusing the latest addition to my wish-list, a combo staircase-aquarium! 

These are just a few of the masterpieces that caught our eye, but we bet just this snapshot will have you thinking twice about taking the elevator! 

3 Awesome Snow Day Solutions

With Buffalo gaining tons of media attention for being so wintery lately, those of us in the CWM office thought we'd share with you an article we found that takes a bit of a brighter spin on the weather forecast. Found on the Architizer website, one blogger shared some clever ideas from all over the world for beating your snow-day blues!  

Originally from the  mlive  site, this is the most innovative igloo we've ever seen! 

Originally from the mlive site, this is the most innovative igloo we've ever seen! 

Here's another creative idea for all those snow days we've been having! Gather up those good neighbors and build a snow maze like these folks in Kiruna, Sweden did! 

Here's another creative idea for all those snow days we've been having! Gather up those good neighbors and build a snow maze like these folks in Kiruna, Sweden did! 

Looking for more snow masterpiece ideas? Check out HuffingtonPost and their showcase of frozen lake snow art by Simon Beck that resembles crop-circle patterns!

Stay warm out there Buffalo! 

Holiday Party 2014


Another holiday party for the record books is complete! On Friday, our office celebrated with their annual holiday bowling party (in case you couldn't tell from the picture, we all looked pretty snazzy in our bowling shirts!). A Grinch Gift Exchange completed our afternoon, and everyone had a great time getting in the holiday spirit! 

AIABEP Animal House Competition

One of our Interior Designers entered this years AIABEP Animal House Competition and although he did not receive an award we are very proud of his submission and wanted to show it off!

Parakeet Elaviatorium

This abandoned elevator shaft has been converted into an enclosure that provides parakeets with all the luxuries of their natural environment and simultaneously offers building tenants a unique bird watching experience. The Elaviatorium is composed of essential regions that each play an integral role in maintaining the animals well being.

Food is located at the lobby level. Seed and fruit are bordered by a pool of perpetually circulating water. Visitors to the building can get an intimate look at the birds from either side of the glass.

An aluminum tower ascends from the ground floor of the building, rises through the shaft, and soars above the rooftop. The narrow tower structure and low profile perimeter treatments make the shaft ideal for unobstructed flying and travel between levels. The levels are in rhythm with the building’s floors and consist of areas to nest and perch. A commitment to smooth structure and finishes creates and absence of superfluous ledges and niches. This dictates where nesting and perching occur. Lining the shaft are living walls that provide nesting materials and synchronized light fixtures that replicate natural daylight in order to maintain the bird’s circadian rhythm.

Viewing balconies at each level give homage to highly ornamented historical elevators while using materials associated with modern “aircraft” style.

At the rooftop of the Elaviatorium birds will find grit necessary for proper feeding, bathing areas, and open flying space. Angled glass panels refract light so as to not pose a danger by appearing too clear and unidentifiable.