About Us

Our work helps our clients realize their dreams for a new building. We develop a story for that building which upon completion, brings delight to the senses and a lasting and rich imprint. To quote an unknown architect, ‘To build one’s house is to build a dream, an environment made to one’s measure, and to express one’s deep personality, a part of us that is normally invisible.”

Our efforts help our clients write joyful stories while doing our part to manage the numerous risks and identify the unknowns found in the building process. We attempt to follow the three Vitruvian principles of Architecture; firmness, commodity and delight. Firmness: meaning good structure, building better than code, focused construction support and reasonable maintenance. Commodity: meaning usability and flow, manageable construction costs, good indoor air quality, energy efficiency and universal design. And Delight: meaning recognition of site constraints and opportunities, curb appeal, integrated interior detailing and rich color story.

Our Team

Charles B. Smith, R.A.


I began my architectural apprenticeship in New York City in the fall of 1979. I worked for two years as a draftsperson and code expediter on numerous Lower Manhattan loft conversions for the New York City firm of Joseph Pell Lombardi, Architect. I also worked on the restoration of an octagon house owned by Mr. Lombardi. I gained knowledge of zoning, building code and aesthetic issues related to adaptive re-use and historic restoration.

In 1981, I was recruited to join Architect’s Design Group as a designer and job captain for low rise residential and commercial mixed use buildings in New York City. The projects involved both new construction of infill buildings as well as conversions of existing structures.

A year later, I embarked on a five month Grand Tour of European architecture. I traveled from Finland to Spain, Paris to Athens, Thira to Rome bringing to life the lessons learned in architectural history slide lectures. I walked through buildings designed by Aalto, Asplund, Bernini, Borromini, Brunelleschi and Gaudi, among others.

Upon my return to New York, I accepted the position of Project Manager with Harold Spitzer, Architect. I was responsible for all project phases for residential, retail and restaurant architectural interiors. I passed the New York State Architectural licensing exam in 1983 while with Mr. Spitzer.

In 1985, I began my own firm offering architectural services in the Hudson River Highlands, north of New York City. My work focused on adaptive re-use of under-utilized structures, historic restoration and single family residential design.

Ten years later the needs of my young family and a desire to be closer to extended family prompted a move to upstate New York. I accepted the position of head of design for New Energy Works, a design/build company with a focus on environmentallly friendly construction, use of reclaimed material and timber frame architecture.

I re-entered private practice in September, 2004, with the opening of Design Works Architecture, P. C.

I preserve my youth by cycling, running, and playing hockey in a men’s league.

I was raised in Minnesota but was given a full scholarship to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts for my final two years of secondary school. That opportunity helped open the doors of the Cornell University School of Architecture, Art and Planning in Ithaca, New York. I received a Bachelor of Architecture degree in May of 1979.

Janice Atkinson Smith and I were married in 1986 in Ithaca. Jan is an interior designer and native of Orchard Park, New York. We have two great boys, Kendall and Trevor.

Serge Tsvasman

Project Manager

About 3 years into my fore as a Registered Representative for Charles Schwab in Denver, CO I realized that my life was missing an outlet for creative expression. I took a leave of absence to spend a summer studying architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Working in the studio at 3 a.m. during my first week I knew that I had discovered a path that would enrich and shape my world.

While studying at the Boston Architectural College I had the opportunity to work for several firms of varying sizes. I was exposed to a wide range of projects including large scale pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, dormitory residences, a community theater, as well as interior design for childcare facilities.

Just before receiving my Master’s Degree in Architecture I had an opportunity to build a home near Telluride, CO that would offer exposure to residential design and mountain architecture that I quickly fell in love with. I followed that dream to Truckee, CA and to my surprise, back home to Rochester, NY. My experiences and skillset eventually aligned to those of Design Works Architecture where I am now a proud team member.

When I am not working on design projects I can be found planning my next home improvement project or playing guitar and singing at various open mics around town.

Teri McMahon

Project Manager

I’ve wanted to be an architect as long as I can remember; as a child I would design and draw my own houses, I took drafting classes, photography and art classes in high school – all to help build my portfolio.

I attended Penn State University’s five year Architecture program. I studied abroad in Rome, where I was privileged to have time to travel and study much of Europe’s architecture. Following my time abroad, I completed my thesis year and received my Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1994.

After university I moved to New York City where I was offered a job with a large firm, Lockwood Greene Architects and Engineers. Here I was exposed to a large range of projects, from prototype design for the United States Postal Service to elevation studies and interior design for the Washington Post.

Having grown up in Fairport, along with my husband, we eventually felt the pull to be closer to family and relocated back to Rochester in 1997.

Upon my return I joined Mossien Associates, where my work focused on country club design and various other commercial type projects. While working there I passed the New York State Architectural licensing exam and became a registered Architect in 1999.

Since then I have raised two wonderful daughters and it wasn’t until designing our own family cottage that I met Chuck Smith. Knowing his expertise with timber framing we worked together on the project and built our lake home in 2010. Sharing the same enthusiasm for residential homes, timber frame structures, and cottages, I continued working with Chuck on a project-by-project basis, until I joined his team permanently in 2016.

Janice Atkinson Smith

Design Associate

I began my professional career in the Garment District of New York City following graduation from Cornell University in 1981. At Cornell, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Design and Environmental Analysis, with a concentration in Apparel Design. I spent a brief period as an Assistant Designer for Justin Michaels, followed by four years as a Designer at Oxford Industries Women’s Wear division. Seeking to expand my skill set, I enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design in 1986. This certificate program enabled me to expand my design skills from clothing to interiors.

My first venture into home design occurred at Charles B. Smith, AIA, in Cold Spring, NY. At this architectural practice, I assisted in drafting, design, and selection of materials. After our young family moved to Rochester in 1995, I performed freelance drafting and design work for New Energy Works, a design-build company known for their timber frame structures. Since 2004, I have assisted Design Works Architecture with drafting, design, product/material selection, and interior detailing. I enjoy working with clients and using my creative background in order to achieve beautiful and functional designs.

Rebecca Bednarz

Design Associate

My journey to becoming an Interior Designer started when I was young by watching my grandfather build my dream dollhouse. Since then, I knew that with creativity and the right skill set, you can build your dreams.

I started my education at Monroe Community College in the Fall of 2009 for Interior Design. It was there that I met some of the most influential teachers that pushed me to my limits and taught me the fundamentals of residential and commercial design. After receiving my Associates, I was accepted into Rochester Institute of Technology’s Interior Design program where I graduated with Honors in their Bachelor program in 2013. Along with my studies, I participated in an internship program for three and a half years at Wegmans Food Market, in their New Store Planning Group.

After my internship ended, I worked at Vargas Associates as an Interior Designer and Project Relocation Manager. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to use my skill set in various types and sizes of commercial projects throughout our city. During my time there I not only grew as an Interior Designer, but as a team leader by working alongside our clients and contractors that make the project a success.

In April of 2016, I decided to work where I live, and joined Design Works Architecture. I have been assisting Chuck with commercial and residential projects alike and would love the opportunity to help build your dream next.

Kendall Smith

Construction Project Manager

My professional career has always consisted of helping manage small (and busy) businesses. I enjoy customer interaction, problem solving, and taking on whatever task or project is needed day to day.

I graduated from Binghamton University where I majored in history and political science. From there, I spent five years in operational roles with a management consulting firm based out of Pittsford, NY. I gained invaluable experience managing projects, interacting with clients and expanding my skillset.

Recently, I felt the need to explore a different industry and am now a proud member of the Design Works Architecture team. I am responsible for all deliverables for our active Construction Management projects, whether it be an addition, renovation or new home. When I am not at the job site or in the field, I assist with the daily tasks that come with managing a small business (IT troubleshooting, accounting, office upkeep, etc.).

I enjoy being outside as much as possible and living an active lifestyle. I earned my Eagle Scout rank in 2007 and spend significant time volunteering for Massawepie Scout Camps in the Adirondacks.