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Ladies and gentlemen, Derek Carson!

This Thursday, we would like to spotlight our newest hire — Derek Carson! Derek was a previous employee here at CMH, and we are excited to welcome him  back to the family! Check out his Q&A, and also our Instagram Account @cmharch for Derek’s daily polls and fun facts!

 

When were you last a CMH employee, and what was your role then?

As you know… this is my second rodeo with CMH.  I left CMH (on good terms) in end of 2012.  Now that I am back, I recognize a few familiar faces as well as some new characters.    I even have the same desk and the same weird guy (Jeff Tosh) who shares my work space.

 

What have you been doing since you were last here?

Being out on my own was a rewarding experience.   I did similar design work that I did while at CMH. I now have more an appreciation for sales and marketing professionals who have to constantly chase new business. You work all the time – nights and weekends… but on the flip side you have a lot of flexibility in how you spend your time.

 

What is your current role at CMH?

I do much of the same things now as when I left – 3D renderings and graphic presentations.  My goal is improve ways we handle graphic job requests.  I also am the self-appointed “Director of Fun Times.” (see Instagram for proof of fun!)

 

Where are you originally from?

Huntsville, Alabama.  Even though I have not lived there since 2004, I still have a since of pride in all of my hometown.

 

Where did you study, and what was your degree?

I received my Bachelors of Industrial Design from Auburn University. War Eagle!

 

Tell us about your family!

Things are pretty crazy now-a-days.  I had a (1) year-old when I left CMH in 2012.  Now I have two boys – ages (4) and (7).  Both are school age and they participate sport imaginable. My wife, Jessica, sells text books and on most days makes sure I leave the house fully clothed.

 

What do you do in your free time?

Unfortunately between parenting, work, and cleaning I don’t have much free time.  Over the past few years I have fallen back in love with trail running.  It’s the only thing I will get up at 4 a.m. to do.  I have a few very long ultra-marathons coming up in a few months.

 

What’s your hidden talent?

I wish I had one!  There are some activities that I want to try in the near future.  My (7) year old son is a very good hockey player.  So I am strongly thinking about taking up hockey as sport.  They have a real good Adult hockey program in Pelham.

 

What’s your favorite thing about living in Birmingham (or the Birmingham area?)

Birmingham has come a long way since I moved here in 2004.  Its fun to go out on date night every once in a while to see what is happening in places like Avondale and Downtown.    I love the local trail systems around Birmingham – Ruffner Mountain, Oak Mountain, Moss Rock Preserve, and Red Mountain Trail.

 

What do you like most about CMH?

I am truly blessed to be able to go to work everyday and do what I enjoy.  Most folks cannot say that about their jobs.

 

Derek, we are lucky to have you! Have an awesome Thursday everyone!

The Burkholders Take NeoCon!

NeoCon is a conglomeration of manufacturers, dealers, designers, architects, and media who join to enjoy over 1 million square feet of cutting-edge products and services from incredible companies who provide access to pioneering design solutions.

Last month, NeoCon 50 took place in Chicago, IL. CMH had the pleasure of sending our interior designer, Katherine Burkholder, and our graduate architect, Justin Burkholder (who also happens to be Katherine’s husband) to the event.

The two headed out to Chicago on Sunday before the event kicked off Monday morning. Coincidentally, Sunday was also their one-year wedding anniversary! After dealing with a delayed flight, they finally landed in Chi-Town. Given that their timeline was shortened by the delay, they stuck to their priorities: architecture and pizza. “Sunday ended up being really rainy which led to the flight delay (the lake and river cause a LOT of fog in Chicago), so we only saw the Robie House (which ended up being half under restorations) and got delicious deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s!”

Monday morning kicked-off NeoCon. NeoCon 50 was the 50th anniversary of the event, and it featured over 550 exhibitors! “Getting to see so many products in one place is both very inspiring and very overwhelming. It was a great way to see what all is out there that you may not have been aware of before, as well as seeing the latest and greatest from manufacturers we know and love.”

Post-Neocon that evening, Katherine and Justin took an architectural boat tour around the city. “It was the best part of the trip. We went up and down the Chicago River with a tour guide that had so much interesting information about all the various buildings on the river front. He told the history of Chicago and the buildings from the very beginning which was very interesting to hear.” After that, they headed to Maude’s Liquor Bar for dinner where Katherine had her favorite dish of the trip. “It was amazing. I had a Lyonnaise salad with pork belly and gnocchi with mushrooms.” Justin’s favorite dish was the “gigantic fried chicken sandwich I had at a lunch with a  product representative at Cindy’s Rooftop near Millennium Park. The waitress also gave us some interesting lessons about the building’s history, specifically when the country was under alcohol prohibition. They recently renovated the space and found many spirits in a boarded up “Speak Easy” bar in the middle of the building that would have been illegal at the time.

Sight-seeing naturally required a selfie with Cloud Gate (also known as “The Bean”) by British artist Sir Anish Kapoor. When asked what her favorite piece of architecture that she saw over the trip was, Katherine said, “I really liked the Marina Towers by Bertrand Goldberg – which are lovingly referred to as ‘the corn cob buildings.’ They may not be the most aesthetically pleasing buildings in Chicago, but they have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about them. They are also very efficiently designed with the lower floors being utilized for parking.” For Justin, he particularly loved 150 N Riverside. “Many locals call it ‘The Tuning Fork’ because of its shape. The site restrictions of the building required it to be built almost on top of the adjacent railroad tracks, so to maximize the amount of living and lease space, the upper floors of the building are cantilevered out on two sides of the foundation. The base of the building is only about 39 feet, but extends to almost 120 feet for the upper floors, giving it an almost 80 feet cantilever. Apparently, they had to import specialized steel from Europe to meet the engineering specifications. It’s incredible.”

Katherine and Justin attended various CEUs during NeoCon. Check out the write-ups about the ones they attended!

“Cultural Evolution Choice and Beyond”

As time moves forward and workplace culture is evolving, Cultural Evolution Choice and Beyond focused on change in larger corporate companies. The discussion was about the realization that people are more productive in their own personal ways, and that the office/cubicle is not the only place that they can/do get work done. This discussion focused on the movement to understand worker “personas” and to create working environments that are conducive to all types of workers. The idea is not about reducing office space, but rather redistributing it. Reducing private office sizes and increasing opportunities for respite and informal meetings to encourage people to get up and move from their desk to another space in the office – perhaps by a window if your desk is not located near one – and also creating transparency and accessibility with executives by not closing them off in a dark hallway. The most difficult part with this way of thinking is getting businesses and their culture to change with new design.

“Moving Beyond Open Plan”

This discussion focused on different types of working spaces and cultures over the years and their associative pros and cons: open plan, co-working, ABS (activity-based working), NCE (neighborhood choice environments), and MEMO (maker environments, mobile occupants). We then discussed how these types of environments can be tailored to suit different business needs by looking at case studies.

“Biophilic Design”

Biophilic design looked at case studies showing how embracing the connection between humans and nature within the designed environment can positively affect those inhabiting it. We also discussed various was biophilia can be incorporated into design.

“Beyond Green Walls”

Humans have evolved over thousands of years in environments that constantly change – be it audio, visual, thermal, or olfactory. This CEU discussed how we can create environments that better support human’s innate, hard-wired inclinations to be restored by subtly changing environments rather than static environments. The speakers discussed Attention Restoration Theory (which asserts that people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at nature) and went over examples of how this theory can be incorporated into the modern built environment.

Meet Madge!

The CMH family is expanding again! We are happy to introduce you to our newest Graduate Architect, Madge Ellis! Madge interned with us last summer, and we are thrilled to welcome her back after graduating from Auburn University in May. Check out the write-up she did below!

“It’s so good to be back! After interning with CMH last summer, I was ecstatic to hear that I would be returning to the firm that poured into me. June 4 was my first day of starting my big girl job. Currently, I’m 23 years old, but will turn 24 in August. I’m from Sylacauga, AL, home of the whitest marble and Blue Bell ice cream!

Studying architecture was a no-brainer for me. My entire life has been centered around doing things with my hands. Playing piano, painting, reviving old furniture, building, and cooking all involve creating beautiful things with your hands. For me, architecture is no different. Designing space that was functional, beautiful, thoughtful, and well-crafted was my main focus throughout architecture school. During my 3rd year, I studied at Rural Studio which was easily the most incredible thing I have ever been a part of. The people of Hale County will always hold a large piece of my heart. My 5th year thesis was a whimsical yet rigorous exploration of architecture and fashion. I am humbled to say that my thesis book, Fashion + Architecture: of the Body received an award for Best Thesis Research from Auburn University.

When I’m not in the office, most of my time is spent with my 8-month-old Irish Wolfhound rescue pup, Winston. He tags along for my brewery excursions and hikes. Winston even hangs out while I work on my side hobby, Hyde & Seam, a little business that is a collective of handmade and vintage goods, leather products, and clothing. My music taste is all over the place, but I’ve got to say that Fleetwood Mac is by far my favorite. They are coming to Birmingham in February for their farewell tour, and my family got tickets! You can catch me there fangirling to the extreme over Stevie Nicks. (What a woman.)

Living in Birmingham is already an adventure. I have only been here for a couple weeks, but I have thoroughly enjoyed finding new places to explore and trying all kinds of new food. The best part, however, is being able to walk down the block from my house to Saw’s Juke Joint! The worst part? That there isn’t an ice cream parlor in walking distance!

CMH has been such a joy to work for already. It was awesome to come back to work and pick right back up on the relationships formed last summer. Not only am I doing average graduate architect duties, but I am delighted to also focus on the firm’s marketing! Stay tuned for all the exciting things that will be coming soon!”

Meet our summer intern, Bradford!

It’s time to meet another new face! Join us in welcoming our summer intern, Bradford Moore! Bradford is an upcoming 3rd Year Architecture Student at Auburn University. She is a Birmingham native, and we are lucky to have the chance to work with her this summer. As a 2nd year student, she was named Alabama Forestry Associations’s Wood Comp. 2018 winner! She will begin her 3rd year at Auburn University this fall, and is excited to study abroad in Rome during the Spring 2019 semester. Check out the Q&A below to get to know Bradford!

Q&A

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Birmingham — Mountain Brook specifically!

What got you interested in architecture?

My entire life I have always been interested in art and design. This interest further developed as I got older and began to travel more with my family. Seeing history and art displayed through structure in a variety of cultures grew my interest in architecture specifically. When I began to heavily consider going to Auburn, seeing their Architecture program finalized my decision to major in Architecture.

Are you participating in any architecture programs during your 3rd year? 

I look forward to studying abroad in Rome, Italy with Auburn’s School of Architecture next Spring.

What do you like most about CMH?

What I like most about CMH is the people that surround me on a daily basis. Not only were they welcoming and willing to help me learn, but I have the opportunity to work with every person in the firm. There is no strong divide, and each person is equally as involved.

Favorite places that you have traveled?

A few of my favorite places that I’ve traveled have been Salzburg, Austria; Newport, RI, USA; Maui, HI, USA, and Playa Conchal, Costa Rica.

Did you have a big or small family growing up?

I have two sisters, and I’m the middle child. Outside of that I have a pretty large extended family, and we come together for every holiday. Both of my parents are from here, so nearly all of my family lives here as well, making it easy to gather as often as possible. I have loved growing up with a large family and being very close to both my extended and immediate family. I come home from college as often as possible because I’m always missing my sisters and parents.

What do you like doing in your free time?

In my free time I love spending time with my friends and family. I am always busy, so any bit of free time I get is dedicated to them.

I am also in a sorority at Auburn, Alpha Chi Omega. I am on Alpha Chi’s Council, building relationships through working with our philanthropy and as a choreographer for Auburn University Panhellenic’s Greek Sing.

Favorite thing to do in Birmingham?

My favorite thing to do in Birmingham is a toss up between two things. During Christmas time, my family has a tradition of going to the Alabama Theater to watch a Christmas movie. We have never missed a year. The beauty of the Alabama Theater makes it all the more special. My second favorite thing to do is simply going to Mountain Brook Creamery to get a scoop of ice cream. It’s our local ice cream shop, and going there makes me feel like a little kid again!

Favorite thing about being in school at Auburn University?

I love the Auburn community. The town is so welcoming, helping students to feel at home when often far away from home. I was able to find some lifelong friends that I am forever thankful for.

Tell us about your Wood Comp. Project!

I was humbled by being named Alabama Forestry Association’s Wood Comp. 2018 winner. This year’s assignment was to design a multipurpose pavilion on the western side of campus, strongly incorporating wood into the design. My design was inspired by the existing placement of the trees on the site, looking to effectively frame the landscape rather than change it. I was also inspired by Japanese architecture and the intricate, stacked joints commonly found in it. I placed stacked, wooden screens throughout the structure, framing different views as one journeys through the pavilion.

What do you like to do when you aren’t in the office?

When I’m not in the office and since I am in my home town of Birmingham for the summer, you can likely find me spending time with my family. I’m a family girl through and through, and I’m soaking up all the family time I can get while I am home.

The Little Family, Not So Little Anymore!

A huge congrats to CMH team member, Jeramie Little and his wife, Emily, on the new additions to their family! Quentin Henry and Eli James were born on February 20th. Congrats on the beautiful twin boys, Littles!

Employee Spotlight: Steve Kinney

Before we close our books on the first week of 2017 and ride off into the weekend sunset, let’s take a moment to meet one of the newest members of the CMH family, Steve Kinney. He is a multi-talented and invaluable asset to the firm (you have probably spied his photography gracing our blog and social media previously). We are ecstatic to have Steve working with us. Please take a moment to help us welcome him to the CMH community!

When were you hired?
My first day of work was 8/15/16

Where you are originally from?
I was born in Pennsylvania, came to Birmingham when my father was transferred to ACIPCO in the late 60’s.

How did you become interested in architecture?
Really not certain. I liked to draw, but wasn’t an artist. Buildings and structures were intriguing, puzzles in a sense. Architecture allows me draw and work out design puzzles.

Where did you study?
Auburn University.

Favorite places that you have traveled?
My favorite place to visit is Italy, have been several times and want to go several more. The UK was our recent trip. Being able to read signs and understand the language was a pleasant travel change. The place I’d like to go next would be out west to photograph the desert landscapes and textures, maybe find a few abandoned places and things along the way.

Did you have a big or small family growing up?
Small Family.

Are you married?
Currently engaged to Kathy Hagood, no date to tie the knot at this time. We knew each other in high school briefly many years ago and accidentally met 3 plus years ago in a hiking group..

Do you have a family?
I have 2 sons, 23 and 20.

What do you like doing in your free time?
Anytime a chance presents itself, I like to take camera in hand and find something to photograph. Weekends trips are always an adventure. So many photographs taken to find that one or two that’s special.

Favorite music/band/singer?
No true favorites, I like a variety of music.

What do you like about living in Birmingham?
It’s a small large city.

What do you like about CMH?
The overall culture of the firm. The professionalism of the people, the quality and variety of the projects.

Where can we find you outside of the office?
In the last year and half, we (Kathy and I) have started doing art festivals around the state and Georgia. Displaying and selling our photography. It’s fun, but as we always remind ourselves, “don’t give up your day job.” Our photography goes under “Angels and Relics”. We like photographing old things and visiting historic cemeteries. Although I find myself photographing other things as well. Our photography can be found here. There are links off that site to our respective web pages.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Steve, and welcome to the family! If you want to see more of his beautiful photography, check it out here!

Happy Halloween from CMH!

Geoffrey Hyche keeping it spooky in the office. Happy Halloween from everyone at CMH!

Kim Davis: Caribbean Explorer

This week, we are featuring one of our long-time and immensely hard-working employees, Kim Davis. She has been an integral part of the CMH family for 19 years! She is currently one of our executive administrative assistants and dabbles in CMH’s marketing efforts as well. Outside of the office, she is an avid traveler with an deep-seated love for the tropics. She took a minute out of her busy schedule to chat with us about one of her favorite topics: her adventures in the Caribbean.

What spawned your love for traveling to this region?
When my husband and I traveled to St. Thomas for our 10 year wedding anniversary we took a day trip to St. John (it is a 30-min. ferry ride St. Thomas) and fell in love with the island as well as the Caribbean.

What places have you visited in the Caribbean?
Nassau, Bahamas (Honeymoon – 1998)
St. Thomas, USVI (twice)
St. John, USVI (4 times)
George Town, Grand Cayman (swam with Sting Rays here)
Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Soggy Dollar Bar & Foxy’s are really fun places to visit here)
Virgin Gorda, BVI (visited the famous “Baths” here)
Whitehouse, Jamaica
Exuma, Bahamas
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
St. John’s, Antigua

What is your favorite place/city/country that you have visited in the Caribbean?
Our favorite island by far is the island of St. John, USVI. It is fairly easy to get to (via flight to St. Thomas and then a ferry ride to St. John), but more importantly it is absolutely beautiful and the reason I prefer it over all the islands we’ve been to is that the majority of the island is untouched – in that most of the island is 60% National Park so no commercial buildings and condos to “junk” it up… The island is very lush with beautiful flowers growing wild on the side of the road and trees so bright with color they look like they are on fire. There are TONS of beaches in St. John (52 to be exact) – all offering different things – some had sea turtles (my favorite!), some were more private than others, some were better for windsurfing, and all had great snorkeling. The island itself just felt like home. It was small enough where you didn’t get lost and I never felt threatened by crime…the people that live on the island are very nice and happy people, probably why its nickname is “The City of Love”. When we traveled there for a week with my family we rented a Jeep and put 200 miles on it the whole week we were there…the island is only 9 miles across, so every day we went to a different beach. My kids loved St. John. After taking them there they said they liked it better than Disney World and ask us all the time when we are going to go back!

We have stayed at the Westin in St. John as well as a beautiful private home (which was my favorite). When my husband and I travel with our friends (we always travel with the same 2 couples) we prefer the Sandals resorts since they are always nice and you don’t have to worry about extra expenses since they are all-inclusive. My favorite Sandals resort is Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma, Bahamas.

What is the craziest activity that you did there?
The craziest activity I have done so far on my travels is definitely swimming with the pigs in Exuma. I know, it sounds crazy, but these pigs really do swim! The captain of our boat put the pigs there himself and every time he goes to the island he feeds them hotdogs (turkey dogs!) so when the pigs hear the engine of the boat they swim out to meet it. When we went, there was even a baby pig named Squealy that ran out to the tip of the island to greet us. That same excursion we saw an island inhabited mainly of marine iguanas that would actually do tricks for grapes. The water in Exuma is breathtakingly beautiful. Pictures do not do it justice, you have to see it to believe it.

Where do you plan to go next?
My next trip I have planned is a girls trip celebrating a good friend turning 40. We plan to go to Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in April this year. As far as our couples trip, we have discussed going to Aruba, St. Lucia or maybe back to Exuma since we liked it so much.

A big thanks to Kim! We can’t wait to hear about the next trip!

Michael O’Kelley featured in Style Blueprint

Check out StyleBlueprint Birmingham‘s feature on the serene and laid-back town of Mt Laurel. Our very own Michael O’Kelley, who is the town architect, shares his experience of residing in this beautiful little oasis in the foothills of Birmingham. Read it here!

Sketch of the Week

Sketch of the Week: a Michael O’Kelley drawing of a future farmhouse for a client in Sylacauga.