Sweet Sixteen

Today Carmina Wood Morris (CWM) celebrates our 16th year of designing & restoring Buffalo! We want to sincerely thank our entire team and amazing clients for helping us do what we love for so long! Sixteen truly couldn't be any sweeter. 

A leader in local historic preservation efforts, we have spearheaded the restoration of numerous buildings throughout the city of Buffalo, with several projects currently in progress. We are a full-service firm that also specializes in distinctive residential, adaptive re-use, commercial, health care, corporate, and education designs, with licenses to practice in the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and South Carolina. CWM is also LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and we also create handicapped-accessible structures for numerous projects. 

Our firm had an especially eventful year in 2016, with many celebrations and announcements: 

•    We reached a milestone anniversary, celebrating fifteen years as a firm.

•    CWM promoted Michael R. Bray, AIA to partner!

•    Completed the renovation of the Phoenix Brewery into loft apartments, which was then recognized as Buffalo Spree’s “Best Preservation Project in WNY 2016.”

•    Our work on the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (LAPC) Lofts was featured in a National Trust For Historic Preservation editorial. That project also won “Outstanding Project” in the 2016 Preservation Buffalo Niagara Preservation Awards!

•    Completed the construction of the Salvatore’s new boutique hotel, The Delavan.

•    CWM was honored as a Buffalo Business First “Best Places To Work.”

•    Promoted Paul Lang, AIA to an Associate!

•    Hired four new employees, and two interns.

•    Completed the redevelopment of the Bosche Lofts at 916-918 Main Street, Buffalo.

•    Partner Jon Morris was honored as a Business First C-Level Executive, which recognizes WNY’s most effective business leaders.

•    We completed the renovation of the sixth floor of our office in downtown Buffalo, and began work on the fifth floor reception area.

The principals of CWM: Steven J. Carmina, AIA; R. Christopher Wood, PE; Jonathan H. Morris, AIA; Pamela Timby-Straitiff, CID IIDA; and Michael R. Bray, AIA; credit the success of their firm to the attention to detail, aesthetics, and service given to each project and client. They are a dynamic team collaborating to achieve innovative solutions, grounded in core values, respected in their profession and community. Again, thank you for these sixteen years. Cheers to sixteen more!

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!! 

Restoring Buffalo And Beyond

Thanks to Buffalo News reporter, Jonathan Epstein, for this wonderful article on partner Steve Carmina and our entire firm! We're excited for the continued efforts towards Buffalo's resurgence, but we’re also moving to other cities. We’ve got projects in Utica, and we’re looking at buildings for clients in Albany. The future is bright for CWM! 

Read the full article here

Historic Preservation Education

As any Historic Preservation Architecture buff should know, the month of May marks "National Preservation Month!" Last year, we created a list of the 5 reasons old places matter; this year we'd like to make sure you've been paying attention to all the wonderful acts of preservation happening around our hometown of Buffalo, New York! 

At CWM, we've been doing everything we can to help educate and inspire our community on the importance of Historic places! Buffalo is a preservationists dream city. We've already played a part in the redevelopment of numerous buildings; including the Hotel @ Lafayette, the Tishman Building, the LAPC Lofts, the Bethune Lofts, and the Remington Lofts on the Canal to name a few. But that's just the beginning! 

Currently underway is the redevelopment of the Phoenix Brewery Building, the renovation of the A&P Warehouse Building, the 1502 Niagara Building (The Crescendo), and the historic White Building at 298 Main Street

The opportunity to regain confidence in our city is one of the biggest reasons these preservation projects are so important. Buffalo's historic architecture speaks to the growth of our industries, the impact it has had on our residents, and the passion and commitment that many have for preserving our region's buildings. 

All of these projects have contributed to the sustainability of Buffalo. Why continuously build new structures when you can save one from being demolished? We should strive towards a world where we appreciate history and all it can offer us. There is something exciting about visiting historic places that carry a story. There is so much we can learn from these buildings, if we only take the time and care to listen. 

Women's History Month

Celebrating "Women's History Month" With The Ladies Of CWM:

Last October, we celebrated "Women In Business" month with an interview of the women that make up the Carmina Wood Morris team, which resulted in some surprising insights! Now, in honor of "Women's History Month," we're going to revisit that initial interview and dig a little deeper into what makes the ladies of CWM who they are. 

At CWM our entire team is passionate about the work we do. When Pam, Partner and Director of Interior Design, was asked about her passions she said; "I am passionate about my family and my work. I strive to be the best I possibly can as mom, wife, coworker, designer, and advocate for my clients." Danielle, from our Architecture department, answered that she strives to learn something new every day. Shari, also from our Architecture department, brings her passion for music, traveling, and all art mediums to each project she works on. 

Our team gains inspiration from fellow women in business, such as Katherine Hepburn, who according to Jessica in our Interiors department, "knew how to work with the boys while still being a lady." Wendy, an associate of our firm, said her first architectural boss, Gail, inspired her to be compassionate and always try to put herself in the clients shoes. Wendy says, "We did a lot of community outreach and while the paycheck was important, it wasn't the end goal. Gail just happened to be a woman. I love CWM because they have the same culture." 

Motivation is never in short supply in our office. Whether it be perspective, advice, or just a cup of coffee- our team sticks together to bring the best out of one another. Our Administrative Assistant, Stephanie, always says "don't give up," and is constantly bringing cheer to the office. Lee from our Interiors department uses her "famous" chocolate chip cookies to make others happy (you certainly won't hear any complaints from us about that!). 

This March, we thank the women that have impacted us, and hope we can continue to do what we love with the people we love, and maybe inspire someone else along the way. 

About the author: Darra is our Marketing Coordinator, and although she made all the ladies answer these “silly” questions she feels weird answering and writing about them herself. So all she’s going to say is that 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. 

Women In Business: What the ladies of CWM bring to the office

October is celebrated as “Women In Business” month. According to the National Women’s Business Council, women account for 28.7% of all businesses nationwide while the United States ranks first for female entrepreneurship. In honor of this celebration, we took some time to interview the ladies that make up the Carmina Wood Morris team, resulting in some surprising insights! 


When asked to name a woman in business that has been inspiring, Partner and Director of Interiors Pam Timby-Straitiff named Ann Freer, the owner of Chez Ann Salon, saying “she has tremendous passion for her business, clients, and employees. I trust her judgment implicitly and often say to myself, ‘what would Ann do’.” Lee Schlatterer from our interiors department says her younger sister, who is a MSS MLSP LCSW licensed therapist, is a woman in business that inspired her by giving a voice to those struggling with incredible difficulties and “always being up for the next challenge in life.” If you ask Shari Servillon and Danielle Johnson (both from our architecture department) that same question, their answers would be Tina Fey and Leslie Knope, respectfully (which we think is quite a fitting pair of answers; if you are familiar with the “Parks and Rec” character, you would agree).

Our team is pretty inspiring in their own right too. We asked Jessica Muehlbauer from our interiors department to share her passions, interests, and goals. Her response? “I must admit I love plants. I love to take care of something and then marvel at the beauty of your labor.” She aspires to one day open her own boutique, featuring a unique way to shop for interiors. Our Administrative Assistant, Stephanie Lutz, is currently attending college to reach her goal of becoming a financial advisor. When we asked Stephanie what impact she has had on the CWM office she said, “Making people happy here, whether it’s joking around to make them smile or always giving a cheery ‘good morning’. They also like to hear me say I’ve made coffee.” 

One of our associates in the architecture department, Wendy Ferrie, feels her impact on our firm stems from her strong relationship with clients, coworkers, and consultants. By treating people with respect and compassion Wendy has made our entire team feel at home, which is just how she’s felt here personally. Her advice to anyone: “be honest with yourself and those you work with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t think that you are above or below anyone. Work with people as peers and show your appreciation.”

Our next question to the ladies of the office: What motivates you? 

  • Pam: “The people I have around me. I’m fortunate to have great relationships and people in my life that spur my imagination, make me strive to be better, and catch me when I fall.”
  • Lee: “Making others happy. Simply said, but it’s what makes me, me. I love seeing our clients at home in their new space, hearing others impacted by a renovation we helped bring to life, or making someone happy with a batch of my “famous” chocolate chip cookies!”
  • Shari: “Selfless people, acts of kindness and love, and our beautiful planet.”
  • Danielle: ”A deadline, feeling a sense of accomplishment.”
  • Jessica: “A challenge- I love learning something new and having to work hard to figure it out.”
  • Stephanie: “My little brothers. Knowing that they look up to me makes me want to do the best and be the best person I can be.”
  • Wendy: “I want to be proud of the work I did at the end of the day, whether that is with work or with family.”

We couldn’t celebrate the success of women everywhere without asking our team for their perspective and advice for other women looking to make their start! Pam simply says “If you want something, go for it and never give up.” Jessica answered, “Be bold! Have a personality and never apologize for it.” From Shari, “Stand out, create value, and take risks.”

Finally, we asked: what is the first thing you do when you wake up and start your day? Whether it be drink coffee, exercise, snuggle with families or pets, or turn on The Today Show- these ladies come to work every day with a passion for what they do. Thank you for being such inspiring members of our team, not just this October, but all day every day. 

About the author: Darra Kubera is our Marketing Coordinator, and although she made all the ladies answer these “silly” questions she feels weird answering and writing about them herself. So all she’s going to say is that 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.


Living Libraries: An Architectural Viewpoint

As much as a good book will transport you to another world, a great architectural structure will do you one better and bring those worlds to life. These libraries are so structurally brilliant, they may be as magical as the books they hold! 

Seattle Public Library Exterior Walkway.  Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Seattle Public Library Exterior Walkway.

Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Seattle Public Library Interiors.   Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Seattle Public Library Interiors. 

Photo Credit: Darra Kubera, CWM

Our Marketing Coordinator, Darra Kubera, recently travelled to Seattle where she discovered the Seattle Public Library. The building was constructed in 1998, showcasing a contemporary look and feel. According to the library's website, the building is "innovative in both form and function. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and former Seattleite Joshua Ramus were principal designers on the project, working closely with the Library's board, staff and the public during its development phase." 

Sainte-Genevieve Library, Paris.   Photo Credit:  Lumas

Sainte-Genevieve Library, Paris. 

Photo Credit: Lumas

Saint-Genevieve Library Exterior.   Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Saint-Genevieve Library Exterior. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

If the Sainte-Genevieve Library in Paris doesn't transport you to a romantic place, then nothing will. According to Architectural Digest, "the library is best known for its exposed iron structure. The barrel vaults of the reading room are supported by lacy iron arches, which are held aloft by a central row of slender iron columns. Surrounded by windows, the room feels bright and inviting rather than heavy or oppressive." 

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Iowa.  Photo Credit:  CRPL website

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Iowa.

Photo Credit: CRPL website

After being destroyed by flood waters, the Cedar Rapids Public Library reopened in 2013. To see the incredible progress made, watch a time lapse construction video here. The new facility is 94,000SF over three floors, with a modern design allowing for an open floor plan and energy efficient technology. 

In 1913, the Hawaii State Library was built (originally as a Carnegie Library). This structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the largest libraries in the United States. According to Wiki, "The Edna Allyn Children's Room houses murals by artist Juliette May Fraser depicting Hawaiian legends while the garden courtyard features a mosaic of ocean currents by Hiroki Morinoue. Barbara Hepworth's cast bronze sculptures called 'Parent I and Young Girl' greet visitors at the lawn in front of the building."

Hawaii State Library  Photo Credit:  Hawaii Tours

Hawaii State Library

Photo Credit: Hawaii Tours

Kansas City Public Library. Photo Credit:  Arch Wonders

Kansas City Public Library. Photo Credit: Arch Wonders

Finally, we just had to include the Kansas City Public Library which was actually designed to look like a shelf full of classic books! 

We know this is just a snippet of the wonderful, architecturally inspired libraries out there, so we want to hear from YOU! Leave us a comment below and share some of your favorite libraries!