About Us

Ellen Crozat Cassilly

Ellen CassillyEllen’s architectural design experience began in 1983, she began working in the Triangle in 1992 and in 1999 she became the principal of her own firm in Durham. She focuses on creating projects that contribute to vibrant urban neighborhoods that minimize sprawl, preserve natural open spaces and attract lifelong residents.

She received her Bachelor's of Environmental Design degree from Texas A & M University and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to the Triangle, she worked for four years in Paris with Christian de Portzamparc, past winner of the Pritzker Prize (a worldwide award given annually for a career of exceptional architectural design). In 1994, she joined Frank Harmon Architect, a nationally recognized firm located in Raleigh, where she worked on a variety of projects including the North Carolina Museum of Art Amphitheater and Gift shop, St. Matthews Parrish House, Durham Friends School, as well as many residences.

Throughout her career, Ellen has collaborated with architects, artists and clients to design and build single- and multi-family homes, commercial, religious and educational buildings. She is adept at listening to different perspectives and assimilating them into appropriate design solutions. Ellen teaches an architectural design studio at North Carolina State University in the College of Architecture. She also volunteers her time to promote equitable housing and is involved in several community organizations, including the Durham Community Land Trust, the Durham Bilingual Exchange Program and Triangle Rails to Trails.

View Ellen's Resume (pdf)


Keith Barnhouse

Keith Barnhouse After graduating from Virginia Tech, Keith worked in Charlotte for several years, two in the office of Gantt Huberman Architects. His family life brought him to Durham where he became a registered architect in 2006. In 2007 he joined ECA and has led several projects since, including the Rogers Alley project, the Historic and LEED certified renovation of three buildings in downtown Durham, the renovation of 16 parks through Durham Parks and Rec., a variety of residential projects, and the design of Fullsteam brewery, which is conveniently located down the street from the office.

View Keith's Resume (pdf)


Meredith Pittman

Esther Bent Meredith has been with ECA since April 2011. During that time she has worked on a variety of project types and sizes throughout Durham, including all three of the recent projects at Duke Gardens, two restaurants, new houses and residential remodel/addition projects. Previously she was employed with NC State University's Downtown Design Studio. While there she worked on community-based design projects in Henderson, Wake Forest, Kannapolis, and South Park - East Raleigh. She received her Master's degree in Architecture from NCSU in December 2008, where she was an Alpha Rho Chi service award winner and the founding President of the School of Architecture Graduate Student Association. She also has an MFA in Imaging and Digital Art from University of Maryland Baltimore County.

When not at the ECA office, you can find Meredith at her screen printing studio, at the flea market or farmer’s market, digging in the garden, tending the chickens, cooking and eating with friends, traveling whenever possible, and supporting tons of great endeavors throughout Durham.

Nicole Alvarez

Keith Barnhouse Nicole joined ECA in February 2013 as an Intern Architect. She has primarily worked on residential renovation and addition projects, large and small. She received her undergraduate architecture degree (2008) and a Master of Architecture (2010) at NC State University, and was awarded the AIA Henry Adams Medal. She continued her education in business to support her architecture education, receiving her Master of Global Innovation Management in 2011. Prior to joining ECA, Nicole applied her design and business skills at In Situ Studio for two years, helping create the new firm's online brand identity while leading several architecture projects, including Bida Manda Restaurant in downtown Raleigh.

Nicole is currently taking her Architecture Registration Exams, with the help of the Pettigrew ARE Scholarship. As a fun side project she authors the blog IntentionallySmall.com, where she explores her interest in small spaces and simple living.


Esther Ashbaugh Bent

Esther BentEsther Bent joined Ellen Cassilly Architect, Inc. as the Office Manager in 2006, where she handles the bookkeeping and keeps the office organized allowing the Architects to do what they do best. Prior to that she worked for the Historic Preservation Society of Durham helping manage finances and events such as their Historic Home Tour. She has worked part-time in a variety of Administrative roles since starting her family in 1988. Before that she was a Physician Recruiter in North Carolina and a Job Placement Specialist and Social Worker in Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Counseling.

View Esther's Resume (pdf)