The A-Team - meet the people who make everything work at Cordtsen Design Architecture.
Spencer Cordtsen McCombe, AIA, Architect, LEED AP
Spencer moved to Rhode Island to attend Roger Williams University where he received his Bachelor of Architecture. After 4 years of internship with an architecture firm in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He has been practicing architecture in Rhode Island since 1996, first with Newport Collaborative Architects, and in 2009 he launched Cordtsen Design Architecture. He is currently a registered architect in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York, and is a member of both AIA and NCARB. Spencer is also a member of C12, a Christian CEO Peer Advisory organization.
Facts about Spencer:
Where were you born and raised? Pewaukee, Wisconsin
What is your favorite local building? Wild Acre on Ocean Drive in Newport
Who is your favorite architect? James Cutler
Have you been involved in any community projects? RI East Bay Habitat for Humanity; Newport Boys & Girls Club Build Committee
What is your favorite place in Rhode Island? First Beach Newport for Volleyball Tournaments
What is one thing you’ve done that would surprise most people? "I was expelled from 2 preschools when I was three and four years old."
What was your weirdest job? Carnival worker for company picnics and parties
Where in the world would you like to explore? Patagonia and Argentina
Jason T. Grover, AIA, CNU-A
Jay has 20 years of experience in all aspects of the architectural practice. He received his B Arch in 1997 from Roger Williams University. He is a registered Architect in Rhode Island and an accredited member of the Congress for New Urbanism. Jay recently spent 2 years living abroad in Santiago, Chile with his family, soaking in his wife's culture and country.
Facts about Jay:
Where were you born and raised? Born in Van Nuys, California and raised in Connecticut and Maine
Do you have any brothers and sisters? A twin sister and a brother who is eight years older
Where have you lived? California, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and recently 20 months in Santiago, Chile
What are some of the jobs you’ve held? William D Warner Architects & Planners (1998-2001); Newport Collaborative Architects (2001-2008); Robinson Design INC (2009-2010); Independent Architectural Consultant in Santiago, Chile (2010-2012)
What are you most passionate about? The ever evolving movement of 'New Urbanism' and bringing back walkable communities (See Jay’s thoughts here.)
How do you spend your free time? In recent years, with his wife and two young boys, a new adventure is always around the corner
Who is your favorite music artist? The timeless music of James Taylor
What is your favorite TV show? Amazing Race (He and his young son are already training and strategizing so look for them on Season 56)
Brian Shull, AIA, LEED AP BD&C, AWI Certified
After 10 years as a remodeling contractor, Brian attended Roger Williams University where he received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1997. He has worked for a variety of architectural firms which has provided a wide range of experience with high-end residential, schools, libraries and DEM projects. He has been a registered Architect in Rhode Island since 2000. He is currently a member of the AIA (American Institute of Architects), as well as a LEED AP BD&C (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Building Design& Construction, Accredited Professional). In addition, he is AWI Certified (Architectural Woodwork Institute.)
Facts about Brian:
Where were you born? Hawaii
Do you have any brothers and sisters? Two younger sisters
Where have you lived? Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Spain and Washington State
What are some of the jobs you’ve held? Window Manufacturer, Sunroom Installer, Remodeling Contractor and Millwork Shop
What attracted you to architecture? The ability to design spaces that people can interact with
What is your favorite design style? Shingle Style
Who is your favorite architect and why? Santiago Calatrava for his organic, futuristic designs
Have you been involved in any community projects? Habitat for Humanity
What is one thing you’ve done that would surprise most people? I listen to hard rap and heavy metal music daily
Warren Buffet wants to give you a million dollars to start your own business –what business would you start? A Special Effects Studio for Film
What is your favorite movie? Pulp Fiction
What is your favorite kind of car? Italian Sports Cars
What is your favorite TV show? Breaking Bad
Ray holds a Bachelors of Political Science & Philosophy from the University of Rhode Island as well as a Master of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. His list of past careers includes light aircraft flight instructor, wooden yacht restoration, carpenter and assistant brew master.
Facts about Ray:
Where were you born and raised? Newport, Rhode Island
Do you have any brothers and sisters? Second of five children (brothers)
Where have you lived? Arizona, Florida and Australia
Who is your favorite architect? Santiago Calatrava
What is your favorite place in Rhode Island? Narragansett Bay
What are some places you’ve visited? Australia, Fiji, Tahiti, Columbia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Venezuela, New Zealand, Switzerland, Egypt, Tonga...
Color or. Black & White Movies? Black and White
What is your favorite food? Bacon
What is your favorite piece of art? Pieta
Jared received his Bachelor of Architecture as well as his Master of Community Planning from Auburn University in 2011. In March 2019 he completed his licensing exams.
Facts about Jared:
Where were you born and raised? Born in Charleston, South Carolina - raised in North Kingstown, RI
How would you describe yourself? Energetic, likable and romantic
What is your favorite place in Rhode Island? The Cliff Walk in Newport
What are your strengths? Being able to talk to anyone
What are your weaknesses? Keeping quiet
What are some places you’ve visited? Rome, Italy, Edinburgh, Scotland, Hamburg & Berlin, Germany, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Brussels, Belgium among others
What is the last movie you watched? American Sniper
What is the last book you read? On Becoming Baby Wise, Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
How do you spend your free time? With friends or enjoying a new hobby like biking, gardening or furniture making
Color or Black & White Movies? Color
Night Owl or Early Bird? Night Owl but working on the Early Bird thing
What item do you never leave home without? iPhone
What is your favorite museum? The Vatican Museum
Joe received his Master of Architecture degree from Roger Williams University in May of 2016, joining the Cordtsen Design Architecture team in April 2018. He has been practicing professional architecture for over 5 years now and is currently taking his licensing exams to become a registered architect.
Facts about Joe:
Where were you born and raised? Born in Staten Island, NY, and moved to New Jersey when I was 8
Do you have any brothers or sisters? Two younger brothers
Where have you lived? New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, & Italy
What is your favorite movie? Gladiator
What is your favorite sports team? NY Giants
What are some places you’ve visited? Florence, Italy , Rome, Italy, Split, Croatia, Munich, Germany, Hohenschwangau, Germany, Dublin, Ireland, London, England
What is your favorite season? Summer
If you could learn any language, what would it be? Italian & German
What was your favorite childhood toy? Lincoln Logs & Legos
Rebecca graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Architecture in May of 2013. After practicing professional architecture for 5 years she became a registered architect in July 2018. Rebecca is a member of AIA in Rhode Island. She has experience in commercial and residential architecture and has a passion for interiors.
Facts about Rebecca:
Where were you born and raised? Norwich, CT
What are some places you’ve visited? I love to travel. I love to see amazing places in nature and unique architectural cities. I have been to many places in Europe and have gone to a number of the national parks in the country.
What attracted you to architecture? When I was looked at colleges I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had been in the fine arts program in high school and was talented at mathematics. I found out about architecture online and went for it and by the end of the first semester was a leader in my class. I knew I had made the right decision.
What are some of the jobs you have held? Aside from architecture positions every job I have held has had to do with swimming. I was a swim instructor, a lifeguard, and a swim coach.
What is your greatest accomplishment? I have always said becoming captain of my college swim team in a senior class of ten women. Becoming a licensed architect at 27, five years before the average, may just top it.
What are you most passionate about? Athletics have always been a huge part of my life. They promote teamwork and a healthy lifestyle. I have done a number of organized sports through the years and continue to train for half marathons and play in community sports leagues.
What are your lifelong dreams? A simple life is fine by me. I would love to enjoy a career as an architect who does interior design as well. When I retire I want to develop my skills in oil painting and perhaps write a fictional novel.
What are you most thankful for? My parents. There are no better parents in existence.
What is your favorite food? Ice cream, followed closely by loaded cheeseburgers.
What is your favorite sports team? The Boston Bruins.
What is your favorite season? Summer
D. M. Duffy Folmar
Duffy earned her Associate degree in Drafting and Design Technology from Lurleen B. Wallace State Junior College in Alabama. Her list of past careers includes retail assistant manager and manager, clock repair assistant, drafter, AmeriCorps volunteer and youth center assistant.
Facts about Duffy:
Where were you born and raised? Born in Key West, Florida and raised in Florida, Connecticut and Rhode Island
Do you have any brothers and sisters? Youngest of four with two older brothers and an older sister
Have you been involved in any community projects? Fundraising for Waterfront Rescue Mission in Gulf Breeze, Florida; Christmas Gift and Backpack Program for foster children in Pensacola, Florida
What is the one thing you’ve done that would surprise most people? Bungee cord jumping
Where in the world would you like to explore? Switzerland! And the rest of Europe
If you could learn any language, what would it be? Romansch, Italian, German, French, Gaelic, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic
What are you most thankful for? Her son, Jacob
Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird
What is your favorite movie? It's A Wonderful Life
What is your favorite piece of art? Two pieces - Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' and Maxfield Parrish's 'Ecstasy'
Michelle met Spencer through serving together in youth ministry in a Rhode Island Christian church and has been with Cordtsen Design since April of 2018. She studied Psychology for 5 years at Salve Regina University (then College) and URI but changed direction and spent her post-college years in many different customer service-related fields and positions, always seeking new adventures and experiences. Her longest career was 10 years in full-time social media and internet marketing for her husband’s website business and clients, cutting back in the 11th year to marketing for select clients only.
Facts about Michelle:
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Anaheim, California while my Dad was serving in Vietnam, and because he was a career US Army officer, we spent my childhood and teen years moving a lot -- a new school every year from 5th through 12th grade. But I spent the most time in Georgia (ages 7-16), living on two military bases when not living in civilian housing, and attending 6 different schools. And I loved it!
Do you have any brothers or sisters? I have three younger brothers, including one who passed away in 2015.
What is your favorite place in Rhode Island? Three places right now: Jamestown Bridge first thing in the morning on my way to work and then on my way home. (Glorious!) The second is Beavertail in Jamestown, especially at sunset. The third is home with my husband Scott.
Who has made the biggest impact in your life and how? Jesus Christ – because He reconciled me to God, and not because of anything I did, but because of what He did on the cross. And when I first believed and received Him by faith, I was not only changed in that very that moment, but the Holy Spirit continues to change me as I read the Bible for godly wisdom, fellowship with other Christians, and live by faith. What an abundant life! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” [Jesus in John 15:10) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Where do you see yourself in five years? Wherever I am, I’ll be. I’ll just keep walking, growing, and listening to God as I live out this next season of my life. I have no idea where that will lead me tomorrow, much less in 5 years!
What is your personal mission statement? To live every day as if it’s my last, not wasting time so I don’t live in regret.
Where in the world would you like to explore? I’ve always wanted to travel the entire country in an RV with Scott and see every National Park, visit small towns, and serve with Samaritan’s Purse along the way. But there are so many obstacles to that now, it’s gone from a plan to a dream to just a fantasy. I’ve learned to be content and grateful if it never happens. Next up: visiting Niagara Falls with my Mom-in-Law and Scott, and maybe Wolf and his wife Jo.
What is the last book you read? Finished “Warrior in Pink” by Vivian Mabuni. Reading right now: “The Complete Work of EM Bounds on Prayer,” and “A War of Loves” by David Bennett.
What are you most thankful for? God’s always-surprising love and grace toward me; my husband Scott, who loves and cares for me like no one else on earth; my son Wolf, for so many reasons -- too many to list; and my mother-in-law, for her love, wisdom and support throughout the years.