About

Catherine J. Comerford
Curriculum Vitae

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Cate Comerford holds a Master’s Degree of Architecture from NJIT and a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston University. Ms. Comerford is a licensed registered architect in the states of Washington, Hawaii, and New Jersey. Her professional affiliations include the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the International Code Council (ICC). Cate currently serves on the Board of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

Cate began her career under the tutelage of Eleanor Petersen, FAIA (an apprentice of FLW at Taliesin West), where she worked on custom housing projects, both architecture and interior design. She expanded her experience under Thomas Roth at Roth Associates Architects, working on commercial interiors, residential projects, and numerous institutional projects for various municipalities in northern New Jersey.

In 1995, Ms. Comerford became a Partner in the firm, Studio Architects, in New York City. She led numerous projects for the Port Authority of NY & NJ at the World Trade Center, Terminal B of the Newark Airport, and the PA Bus Terminal.

Opening her own firm in the year 2000, Cate has continued her successful practice, concentrating in historic restoration, renovation, and traditional design. Her projects have included the Grant Hall Cadet Restaurant at West Point; restoration of the Bond House Porch for Montclair State University; Reconstruction of the historic OGCMA tents in Ocean Grove, NJ; renovation and alterations of the Majestic Hotel and the Shawmont Hotel in Ocean Grove, NJ; and the restoration and design of many historic NJ Shore homes.

In 2010, Cate and her partner moved to Port Townsend, WA and opened her practice. Cate serves on the Port Townsend Historic Preservation Commission and is the Chair of Port Townsend Main Street Design Committee. Her residential portfolio includes grand Victorians, craftsman bungalows, seaside cottages, and simple cabins. Her practice has had the good fortune of working on several secondary and primary historic residences in the PT Historic District. She has recently assisted the Fort Worden PDA in renovating the interior of the Hospital Steward’s Residence and will begin interior design on Officer’s Row this fall.

Past Awards:
Beersheba Awards for Historic Preservation from 2004-2012: OGCMA tents, and 23 single family residences. Awarded by Ocean Grove Historical Society.
2005 Certificate of Recognition, for significant contributions to the preservation and restoration of Ocean Grove’s heritage, presented by the Monmouth County Bd. Of Chosen Freeholders
2007 Community Achievement Award, for the restoration and addition to a historic farmhouse, presented by the Chester Historical Society
2012 Civic Award for Architectural Design, Ocean Grove Historical Society

Sustainable Design

For Cate Comerford, a commitment to “green design” is nothing new. As a longtime advocate of historic preservation, she knows how intimately the two concepts are intertwined. “Preservation can be considered part of the green movement,” she comments. “It is sustainability.”

Today, it takes vast amounts of energy to construct, run, maintain, and ultimately demolish a building. She comments, “When you restore a historic home, you minimize the impact of construction, reduce resource consumption, and create no new demand for land. You also take advantage of existing infrastructure such as water/sewer and streets.” Plus, she adds, when homeowners rehab an older residence, they have the opportunity to incorporate new energy efficient measures such as spray foam insulation, dedicated ventilation, high efficiency hot water heaters and furnaces, and more.

In a speech, Richard Moe, then President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation highlighted the connection between preservation and the green movement. He said, “Because it necessarily involves the conservation of energy and natural resources, historic preservation has always been the greenest of building arts.”

Beyond preservation, Cate has long been committed to another “green” concept in residential design. “My other passion is living in a smaller home which literally minimizes your footprint on Earth,” she says. In striking contrast to the mammoth “McMansions” often built today, smaller homes consume far less energy in terms of heating, cooling, and electricity. Yet Cate emphasizes, “smaller spaces don’t mean a compromise in quality of life.” As an advocate of the “Not So Big House” philosophy created by author and Architect Sarah Susanka (www.notsobighouse.com), Cate knows that thought-out spaces designed for the way people really live can provide the same comfort as larger, nondescript rooms. She comments, “You can design flexible spaces with nooks, built-ins, details, and craftsmanship that give you all the same options you felt you needed a larger home for. It’s great to think you can create an architecturally stunning home with less impact on the environment that also costs less for the owners over its lifetime.”