Dennis C. Spina, AIA, RRC, REWC, REWO Founder/Principal
Dennis Spina opened his professional architectural practice with Gary Bell in 1987, and together they focused their new firm on design excellence and technical expertise for Upstate New York clients. Dennis’ first link to Gary Bell occurred in 1977 when he joined Cappuccilli-Bell Architects, becoming an Associate there in 1981. Dennis emulated his mentor, Bell, in service to the profession of architecture. He served on various committees, as treasurer and president of the Central New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (CNYAIA); and on the board of the New York State Association of Architects (AIA New York).
As a lifelong resident of Syracuse graduating from Syracuse University’s School of Architecture and Nottingham High School, his roots are deep in Central New York. He has also made an investment in the Greater Syracuse community through his non-profit board work, primarily associated with child-related organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Child Care Solutions.
An early project in Dennis’ career set him on the path to becoming a highly recognized building envelope specialist. The project, a four and a half acre roof for an Upstate New York school district, was under litigation for a roofing system failure – because it was incorrectly designed to tear itself apart – and it did. As a young architect and project manager charged to fix the problem, Dennis found very little information available at that time on how to design roofs that would not fail. As roofing problems at that time were responsible for most litigations and claims against architects, Dennis developed a passion for finding appropriate solutions. In 1981 Dennis served on a CNYAIA Task Force to develop minimum national standards for roofing design – unfortunately something still lacking in the profession today. As a result of this early involvement, roofing system design became his lifelong study and a primary focus.
Neil W. Garry, PE, RRC, REWC, BECxP, CxA+BE Principal
As a structural engineer, Neil brings a unique perspective to Bell & Spina. Much of his professional career has focused on the technical aspects of building enclosure systems. He has provided expert witness testimony and performed forensic investigations of structural and building enclosure systems for legal firms and insurance companies.
Neil’s affinity for architectural works developed initially as a consequence of his interest in history. This was reinforced when, in his early 20’s, a two year sojourn in Germany as an LDS missionary brought to his attention the appeal of true craftsmanship in the built environment.
Upon returning from Europe, Neil enrolled in the State University of New York College at Delhi. While pursuing an AAS in Architectural Technology, he took his first statics courses and was drawn immediately to the calculated design of structural components for architecture. Upon graduation, he secured a position in the structural engineering department of an A/E firm in Rochester, New York. He simultaneously continued his engineering studies at Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated with honors, having attained a BS in Civil Engineering Technology.
In the ensuing years, Neil honed his experience with the design and evaluation of steel, concrete, wood and masonry structures for architecture. He became a licensed engineer and rose to the position of Associate in a firm of consulting structural engineers in Syracuse, New York. He further served as an adjunct instructor for introductory structural engineering courses at Onondaga Community College. In time, his specialty began to shift toward the analysis and design of components for the building enclosure, an area of practice where the work of the architect and structural engineer literally connect. This corresponded with industry trends toward more analytical, engineered approaches to building enclosure design versus the empirical designs of the past.
Neil first met Dennis Spina in 2006 and found that they shared a passion for the nuances of building enclosure design. In 2010, Neil joined Bell & Spina and assumed responsibility for the firm’s Rochester office the following year. In 2012, he entered into partnership with Dennis.
Consistent with his professional interests, Neil is a member of ASTM International Committee D08 (Roofing & Waterproofing) and Committee E06 (Performance of Buildings), where he participates actively in the development of standards for both Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) and the evaluation of snow and ice accretion on buildings. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and certified asbestos project designer in New York State. He is a certified infrared thermographer (Level 1) and is both a Registered Roof Consultant (RRC) and Registered Exterior Wall Consultant (REWC) with RCI International.
Having attained the rank of Eagle Scout in his youth, Neil has remained an active supporter of the Boy Scouts of America and presently serves as an adult leader. His personal interests include a continued affinity for history, various outdoor activities, church fellowship and spending time with his wife and four children.
Douglas K. Arena, AIA, RRC Principal
Douglas Arena, AIA, is a New York State registered architect and is a Partner since 2017 at Bell & Spina Architects. In 2002 he began his professional experience and expertise as a design architect and project manager on high-end residential, light commercial and institutional work throughout New York City and Upstate New York. His interest in building enclosure design began in 2009 when he moved to Syracuse, NY and began developing expertise in roofing systems, forensic investigations, historic building restoration and facility condition master-planning. Douglas has training and certifications in various building performance tests and standards for infrared thermography, hygrothermal analysis (WUFI) and building envelope heat transfer analysis (THERM). Douglas oversees a team of architects and engineers working on public and municipal projects and higher-education institutions throughout New York State. He is active with the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (iiBEC), ASTM Technical Committee E06, and has published and presented seminars on building enclosure systems.
Douglas was born in Frankfurt, Germany and grew up traveling the world with a military family. He earned his Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Arizona and studied at the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University in New York and Paris. He worked for Robert Marino Architects in New York City before moving to Syracuse. For three years Doug was employed at Klepper, Hahn, and Hyatt Engineers before moving to Bell & Spina Architects in 2012. Douglas is a registered architect, member of the American Institute of Architects, a Registered Roof Consultant with iBEC, voting member of ASTM, co vice-president of the Community Library of Dewitt and Jamesville, a member of the All Saints Church Building and Grounds committee, and a member of the Town of Dewitt Planning Board. He is a CNY 40 under Forty recipient and a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Small Business Administration “Emerging Leaders Program.” Doug lives in DeWitt with his amazing wife and three children.
Gary Bell, AIA, NCARB August 16, 1933-February 16, 2015 -Founder
From the beginning of his career in the 1960’s until his retirement in 2005, Gary served on many commissions and community committees, investing both in his community and his profession. He served on the board of the Central New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and as President from 1979-1980. He took that involvement to the next level, serving on the board of the New York State Association of Architects (AIA New York), and was instrumental in refocusing that organization in service to the profession.
Gary has been an advocate and educator regarding architecture’s impact on the environment, and architecture as an art form. He has also been concerned with the general public’s perception of architects. This concern led him to initiate involvement with the New York State Fair to provide a venue to showcase architecture and architects. He subsequently was hired by the New York State Fair to develop a master plan and memorial exhibits for the fairgrounds, including a 9-11 memorial.
He received an art degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology and his Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Institute of Technology. Gary is a talented artist, creating pen and ink sketches of noteworthy architecture and points of interest, which have become the firm’s annual holiday cards. Gary was also a photographer, and avid golfer. He and his wife of 55 years, Suzanne, had five children and eleven grandchildren with whom he loved spending time. Those of us who knew him could not help but love him. He is missed.