Newsletter .09

News from November: 




The annual AIA Design Gala was held mid-November, where we had the pleasure of being honored for our work on the First Trinity Lutheran Church with the Pro Bono Publico Award!

CONSTRUCTION WATCH: Knights of Columbus


Congrats to all who participated in the Soelberg Industries Design Installation Contest, including our own Interior Design team here at CWM who won for our work on Chez Ann Salon! Thanks to everyone who voted! 


Happy Birthday to Wendy Ferrie from our Architecture Department and Joe Palumbo from our Engineering Department!


  • The Business First Industry Roundtable featuring Partner Steve Carmina has been published! Click the box to catch up on Steve's thoughts on all the economic development happening in Western New York!


The grand opening of Fichte Endl & Elmer Eye care was celebrated this month! Congrats to our Interior Design and Engineering Departments!

OUR FACES: Meet the CWM Team!

Giona Paolercio, RA

  • What do you listen to at your desk? Movie Sound-Tracks
  • Favorite Hobby? Design & Build Treehouses
  • What do you consider your hidden talent? Beat-boxing
  • Favorite Quote: "If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary." -Jim Rohn


This month, CWM was featured as a Buffalo Niagara Partnership Member Spotlight! A blog by Marty Haumesser featured our firm's background and highlighted our progress made over our almost fifteen years of designing Buffalo. Partner Steve Carmina was quoted saying, "We believe in making a difference, in our work and in what we can do to support the community, from volunteering to getting involved with organizations such as the Partnership." 


We hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday! Here at CWM we're thankful for our talented staff and project partners (and of course our amazing clients!). 


WGRZ - Channel 2 News tells the story of how our CANstruction creations come to life! Made possible by a $10,000 donation from Tops Friendly Markets, all 8,000 cans are donated to the Food Bank of WNY when the display comes down; further helping those in need. This year, we broke two records: this was our largest display to date with 8,428 donated items and it was also the fastest we have ever completed it, on a Wednesday night! 

Day one construction progress

Day one construction progress

The finished project! 

The finished project! 

BNP Member Spotlight

This month, our friends at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership invited us to be their Member Spotlight! Below is the finished article written by Martin Haumesser: 

Imagination Unlocked

Since its founding in 2001, Buffalo Niagara Partnership member, Carmina Wood Morris DPC, has made its mark across Western New York as a leading architecture, engineering and interior design firm. The firm’s talent and creativity can be seen across the region in a variety of award-winning projects from luxury lofts in historic Lafayette Square to renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“Carmina Wood Morris has earned a distinct reputation for our design and technical skills, specializing in historic preservation, adaptive re-use, multi- and single-family housing, and commercial work, “explains Darra Kubera, Marketing Coordinator at the firm. “We offer a comprehensive scope of services with full capabilities to take a project from concept through design to completion.”

With headquarters in downtown Buffalo, Carmina Wood Morris is home to a dynamic team of 23 professionals including architects, engineers and interior designers who collaborate to deliver unique, innovative results for their clients. The firm’s name is associated with countless projects that shine as examples of the resurgence underway in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Building the community

The Hotel Lafayette. Seneca Street Lofts. The Phoenix Brewery Apartments. Those are just a few of the projects that demonstrate the firm’s philosophy of doing great work that help to make our community better.

It is a company culture instilled by firm principals Steven J. Carmina, AIA; R. Christopher Wood, PE; Jonathan H. Morris, AIA; and Pamela Timby-Straitiff, CID, IIDA, and shared by every member of their team.

“We believe in making a difference, in our work and in what we can do to support the community, from volunteering to getting involved with organizations such as the Partnership,” says Steve Carmina.

Carmina himself has been called one of downtown Buffalo’s biggest boosters, evidenced not only in the firm’s work, but also by the fact that he makes his residence in a restored historic building on Genesee Street.

The Partnership in the plans

Carmina Wood Morris became a member of the Partnership more than two years ago, citing the networking opportunities as a major reason for joining. As the firm has become more familiar with the Partnership, they recognized all that their membership has to offer, and firm associates continue to get more involved. Partner Pamela Timby-Straitiff is a member of the Partnership’s Executive Exchange Commitee and a number of associates are part of the Partnership’s BN360 program for young professionals.
In fact, firm architect Paul Lang was recently named as a 2015 BN360 Spotlight Professional, an annual BN360 program that highlights individuals in our area who exemplify today’s rising, young leaders. Paul recently wrote an article for the BN360 Spotlight Series that centers on re-envisioning Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods. Read the article HERE.

Going forward

Obviously, revitalization efforts and new development in the Buffalo Niagara region has resulted in an increased demand for services provided by Carmina Wood Morris. The firm currently has several positions open in its engineering department and it recently recruited a young architectural intern to Buffalo from Florida. Darra Kubera notes that all the exciting things going on in Western New York were added incentive for the emerging professional to make the move here.

While projects in downtown Buffalo have garnered plenty of attention, the firm is finding success throughout the region. Work currently underway includes interior design for Courtyard by Marriott in a signature building in Niagara Falls; design work at Crescendo apartments in a circa 1911 former Bison Storage and Warehouse complex on Niagara Street; and design work at the Delevan, a 60-room boutique hotel that will adjoin Salvatore’s Restaurant in Lancaster.

As Carmina Wood Morris continues to grow, Darra Kubera sees the firm’s involvement with the Partnership growing as well. “We are pleased to be a part of the Partnership and have found them very responsive any time we’ve had a question or needed assistance,” she concludes.

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.


Curtains Up: Architectural Theatres

In light of Buffalo's 2015-2016 theatre season kickoff a few nights ago, we thought it would be appropriate if we published a post on theatrical architecture! 

Photo courtesy of  Trip Advisor

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

1. Why not stick close to home to start off the list? Shea's Performing Arts Center here in Buffalo recently underwent a major restoration, restoring the proscenium arch, high walls, and ceiling area to bring back that "movie-palace grandeur" we Buffalonians have come to adore. 

Photo from January 1984, courtesy of  Saenger Museum

Photo from January 1984, courtesy of Saenger Museum

2. Next up, on the National Register of Historic Places, the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, LA survived multiple renovations, including one after Hurricane Katrina. Designed by Emile Weil with an atmospheric interior and Italian Baroque courtyard, this theatre is no stranger to special effects. 

Photo courtesy of  Providence Center

Photo courtesy of Providence Center

3. Originally a home for silent movies, the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island sparkles like no other theatre, thanks to the "gilded, intricate plasterwork, columns of imported marble, and huge crystal chandeliers" [Architectural Digest]. Also on the National Register of Historic Places, this theatre managed to bypass demolition to allow for its renovation and modernization that we marvel at today. 

Photo courtesy of  Historic Hutchinson

Photo courtesy of Historic Hutchinson

4. Designed by Carl and Robert Boller, the Art Deco stylings of Fox Theater in Hutchinson, KS are unparalleled. Opened in 1931, its "pressed-aluminum and metallic-glazed terra-cotta reliefs, door moldings, capitals and bases, cartouches, friezes, and other decorative features" [Architectural Digest] are reason enough for this structure to have deserved its spot on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Photo courtesy of  San Diego Historic

Photo courtesy of San Diego Historic

5. Last but not least, the Balboa Theatre caught our attention by its name and kept our attention by its story. Constructed in 1924 and remodeled in 1934, this theatre was known for featuring Spanish-language films; however, it was also utilized for U.S Navy offices, housing, and it even starred in an action-film! 

If you have a theatre you think should be added to our list, let us know! We'd love to continue exploring these architectural beauties with you! 

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 School Yourself On These Universities

Which schools have the most unique campus architecture you ask? Well the team at CWM is here to answer (or at least give a few opinions)! Here's our list of some of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces of university architecture:

1. Tulane University- This New Orleans university captured our attention when we discovered it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (we have quite the soft spot for historic preservation). Founded in 1834, Tulane was the 15th medical school in the United States. Covering 110-acres of land, the campus architecture incorporates several styles including Richardsonian Romanesque, Elizabethan, Italian Renaissance, and Mid-Century Modern. The landscaping should not go unnoticed either, proven with just one example in the photo below. 

Photo courtesy of the  New Orleans Shakespeare Festival   . Select information above via  Wiki

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival  . Select information above via Wiki

2. Sonoma State University- Located near San Francisco, Sonoma is actually one of the top green/sustainable campuses in the country! The student center is a 59,000SF facility, constructed using reflective roofing, recycled rubber indoor track, recycled glass reinforced structural brick, recycled seat belts to upholster seating, and reclaimed water plumbing non-potable water systems.

Photo & select information courtesy of  The Best Colleges 

Photo & select information courtesy of The Best Colleges 

3. University of Minnesota- The Robert H. Bruininks Hall is another internationally recognized green building through LEED certification. With expansive views of the Mississippi River, this campus is truly a landmark site that houses technology serving thousands of students annually.

Photo courtesy of  Campus Maps

Photo courtesy of Campus Maps

4. University of Pittsburgh- Another landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, the 42-story, late Gothic Revival Cathedral is the most renowned characteristic of the University of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1787, the cathedral is the second tallest piece of university architecture worldwide. 

Photo courtesy of  Pitt Website

Photo courtesy of Pitt Website

5. University of Oxford- Although there is no clear date of founding, the University of Oxford retains evidence that reaches back to the 11th century! From World Wide Learn, "Among the many architectural majesties and curiosities of this ancient campus are the courtyard at Christ Church College and the famous Divinity School in the Bodleian Library, built in the 15th century and home to an ornate English Gothic vaulted ceiling."

These are just five architecturally inspired universities that we came across; do YOU have a favorite that you think should have made our list? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

Catching Up With CWM


There's so much happening in our offices lately we thought we'd help you catch up on some of the latest projects in progress! 

1. Construction is underway at Salvatore's new hotel, The Delavan! This 60-room boutique hotel will be adjoined to Salvatore's Italian Gardens. The $8.5 million project adds a 4-story, 44,000SF structure that will include elegantly appointed, luxury style suites, with a fitness center and full-scale spa run by Capello's.

Photo courtesy of  Salvatore's Facebook 

Photo courtesy of Salvatore's Facebook 

2. We're partnering with Hamister Group Inc. and R&P Oak Hill Development once again to bring a 128-room Hyatt Place Hotel to 310 Rainbow in Niagara Falls. The City of Niagara Falls issued the building permit on June 24th, and will include 14,500SF of meeting and banquet space with 7,000SF of retail space. 

Hyatt Place Rendering

Hyatt Place Rendering

918 Main Street Exterior

918 Main Street Exterior

3. New windows have been installed at 918 Main Street (The Bosche Building), satisfying the Department of Interior Standards for rehabilitation for historical accuracy. Partner Steve Carmina told Buffalo Rising: "The facade restoration and window designs match to [the] oldest photo we have of the Bosche which happens to have been taken at the time of the building's dedication. Which means what you see being installed has been vetted by my firm, SHPO, and the department of the Interior."

4. Work continues at Sinatra & Co's Phoenix Brewery Building at 835 Washington Street, which will become 30 apartments and 3,000SF commercial space. Partner Jon Morris spoke to Buffalo Rising about the details on the units, including the "access to common roof terraces on the second floor, the north side of the building facing the medical campus, and the third floor roof with panoramic views in all directions."

Photo from the recent Hard Hat Tour given by Preservation Buffalo Niagara

Photo from the recent Hard Hat Tour given by Preservation Buffalo Niagara


5. Construction is progressing at the former Moore Business Forms site into a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, which is planned to open on Valentine's Day next year. We're completing the Interiors work for the Patel's on this project, and the building will feature many of the original elements of the previous tenants. 

That concludes this session of "Catching Up With CWM"! If you want to keep in touch sign up for our monthly newsletter using the form on the left, and don't forget to follow us on social media! 

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!

Six Standout NYS Sporting Venues

Despite the autumn-esque weather we've been having here in Buffalo, the summer season is upon us and with that comes summertime sporting events! Working in an Architecture firm has taught me to appreciate the buildings these events actually happen in, not just the events themselves. Here are my findings for the most inspiring sporting venues that our home state has to offer:

How could I not showcase the newest venue in our own backyard, the HarborCenter! Image courtesy of  The Buffalo News

How could I not showcase the newest venue in our own backyard, the HarborCenter! Image courtesy of The Buffalo News

Yankee Stadium is a newly renovated standout venue; image courtesy of  Trip Advisor

Yankee Stadium is a newly renovated standout venue; image courtesy of Trip Advisor

Meadowlands, or MetLife, Stadium is the most expensive stadium ever built; image courtesy of  Sports Grid . (This may be located in New Jersey, but I figured it was close enough to count!)

Meadowlands, or MetLife, Stadium is the most expensive stadium ever built; image courtesy of Sports Grid. (This may be located in New Jersey, but I figured it was close enough to count!)

Another Buffalo gem (and recent  Brick x Brick  Award Winner) is Ralph Wilson Stadium; image courtesy of  Buffalo Bills

Another Buffalo gem (and recent Brick x Brick Award Winner) is Ralph Wilson Stadium; image courtesy of Buffalo Bills

Brooklyn is home to the intriguing Barclays Center; image courtesy of  Pentagram  

Brooklyn is home to the intriguing Barclays Center; image courtesy of Pentagram 

Syracuse houses the Carrier Dome (also known as the Loud House); image courtesy of  Google

Syracuse houses the Carrier Dome (also known as the Loud House); image courtesy of Google

Comment below and share with us what YOUR favorite sporting venue is, or let us know a topic you think we should feature in our next blog post! 

The Ultimate List Of Wild Architecture: U.S. Zoos

As you can tell from some of my previous posts, I love visiting the news section of the Architizer website. They recently published a post titled "Safari Architecture: 7 Wild Zoos," but I have to say I was a little disappointed by their list! They featured zoos from around the world, but never really focused in on what wonders we have here in the United States; don't worry- I already did that research for you! Read on for the Ultimate List of Wild Architecture: The United States Zoo edition. 

          The Buffalo Zoo. Image courtesy of Trip Advisor. 

          The Buffalo Zoo. Image courtesy of Trip Advisor. 

Obviously I chose to look right in my own backyard to start off this list! The Buffalo Zoo, pictured above, is actually the third oldest zoo in the United States and is considered the second largest tourist attraction in Western New York. Residing in the middle of an urban area, the Buffalo Zoo's design cleverly unites people and animals. One of the newest additions is the Rainforest exhibit, where the back wall "resembles a flat-topped mountain...complete with a live working waterfall." A bridge and balcony provide breathtaking views, completing this marvelous architectural attraction.

                                            Cleveland Zoo. Image courtesy of City Guide.

                                            Cleveland Zoo. Image courtesy of City Guide.

Next up, The Cleveland Metropark Zoo, which recently received LEED certification for their African Elephant Crossing exhibit. The LEED program is the nationally accepted standard for green buildings, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. I visited this zoo myself back in March, and although some areas were blocked off from the snowy weather I still had a great adventure exploring the twists and turns of this 183-acre zoo. 

Philadelphia Zoo. Image courtesy of Landscape Architecture Magazine. 

Philadelphia Zoo. Image courtesy of Landscape Architecture Magazine. 

In 1874 the Philadelphia Zoo opened, and still only has its original 42 acres today. Last spring, the COO introduced a new design plan that created "a radically different experience by giving [the animals] this opportunity to travel and explore." Three trail types were constructed, as shown in the photo above, that allowed animals to wander and explore while being eye to eye with patrons. Definitely worth a visit in my opinion! 

Smithsonian National Zoo. Image courtesy of PJA Architects. 

Smithsonian National Zoo. Image courtesy of PJA Architects. 

Last on my list is the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C., recently renovated by PJA Architects. An Asia Trail Elephant Exhibit covering three acres was updated; their website describes the project: "two large water holes for swimming were incorporated into the site topography and are maintained by a state of the art water treatment facility. The project incorporates green technologies throughout , is sensitive to the historic building and context, and greatly expands the space for animals and public viewing." 

My short list certainly does not cover all the architecturally inspired zoo's that the U.S. has to offer, but I hope it sparked your interest and raised your awareness of what lies in your own backyard. Comment below and share what YOUR favorite zoo structures are (you may even inspire a future blog post!).