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REAL ESTATE - INTERVIEW

Interview with Architect Keri Murray, Founder of Keri Murray Architecture from Boston

Successful architects not only create visible influences with the buildings they design, but also create inspiration for the next generations to reveal their passion for architecture. Jørn Utzon inspired the next generations with the Sydney Opera House he designed. I talked with Keri Murray, who inspired by the Sydney Opera House to pursue a career in architecture.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Keri Murray

Keri Murray

REAL ESTATE - INTERVIEW

by Meryem Aksoy

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What you learned at the university is not enough to open and manage your own architectural firm. An architectural firm is not just a place where you make drawings and projects. In addition to design and architectural processes, you also need to take responsibility for all tasks such as management, recruitment, marketing, and accounting. Architects, whose aim is to establish their own firm, should aim to gain knowledge on all these issues through the accumulation of good observations and experience in the early years of their career which started after graduation. In her professional career of five and a half years, Keri Murray also gained enough experience in these subjects and then founded Keri Murray Architecture. Keri Murray Architecture, which specializes in residential design, provides its clients with all necessary services from design to construction. I talked with Keri Murray, Founder of Keri Murray Architecture, about her career and the details of the residential design process.

Keri, before talking about architecture, I would like to learn more about you. Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Keri Murray?

I am a mother of three young kids, two girls, and a boy. They keep me on my toes and always laughing. I also have a Bernese Mountain Dog, and between all four and an active husband, we spend a good portion of our time outdoors. We are always making it a point to get outside and connect with nature, and we spend most of our free time hiking, regardless of the season. My husband and I share a passion for travel and that is a focus of our family time. We often take trips around the state of MA, out of state, and out of the country. This keeps me inspired in both my personal and professional life.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

How did your interest in architecture has begun? What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture?

My interest in Architecture was sparked by the love of travel I mention before. After undergrad, I spent 6 months in the South Pacific. I was fortunate enough to see an Opera (another love of mine) at the Sydney Opera House and it inspired me to pursue my interest in Architecture. I returned to the states and started my graduate studies at The Boston Architectural College.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

Could you tell us about your educational background? When did you decide to establish your own firm?

I received a Master of Architecture degree from the Boston Architectural College after studying full-time for 5.5-years while working full time at a well-known Boston Architecture firm. Once I completed my IDP hours I sat for my licensure and was able to complete all seven tests in while simultaneously starting a family. I had extensive experience designing K-12 educational buildings with a focus on programming and design, and while I very much enjoyed the work, once I completed my licensure I was motivated to start my own firm and switch gears to residential design.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

Could you tell us about Keri Murray Architecture and your team?

At this point, I run my business by myself and it can be a challenge to be design principal, managing principal, marketer, and accountant at the same time. It forces me to be focused and organized and I make it a point to partner with like-minded contractors and consultants. I'm fortunate to work with some incredibly talented consultants that also run great businesses.

What type of projects does Keri Murray Architecture specialize in?

I love classic New England Architecture - an old Saltbox, Colonial, or any Royal Barry Willis Cape. I spend a lot of time on Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod and never fail to see a home that inspires me. I’m drawn to homes that are packed with character and that are built with natural materials, so I particularly enjoy renovating historic homes to making them more efficient and livable. Whether it’s a renovation or new build, I strive to stay true to the unique charm that defines New England vernacular.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

What kind of services do you offer your clients?

I offer a robust service package that includes (but is not limited to) Design Consultation, Schematic Design & Design Development, Interior Finish & Fixture Selection, high-quality 3D Modeling, Documents for Pricing, Permitting & Construction, Special Permit Applications/Hearings, Construction Administration for New Construction and Addition projects.

How could you define your architectural approach?

I never lose sight of what to me are the three most important aspects of an architectural project - the demands of the client, the design demands (program and place), and construction demands. You have to consider and be able to execute in all three aspects if a project is to be realized. So my design philosophy centers on having a creative and cohesive vision that is rigorously tested against the realities of cost and the demands of the site. I bring high levels of design sensitivity, technical expertise, and management experience to every project regardless of scale.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

What are the advantages of being an award-winning architect? Could you tell us about the awards that you won?

As a young firm starting out, I was fortunate enough to win Best of Houzz- Customer Service my first year of being part of the platform. I couldn’t have done it without the many wonderful clients who took the time to discuss their experience. I think client endorsements are a huge measure of success and when you have many to point to it gives you an advantage when speaking to potential clients about your ability to understand their needs and bring them to life. Hiring an architect is a first-time experience for many people, so the comfort of knowing that you’ve provided others a positive experience helps overcome any reservations they might have. My Best of Houzz award was instrumental in helping me gain recognition and continues to help build my reputation. I hope it is just the first of many!

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

What is the importance of communication between the architect and the client in the process of developing an architectural project? How do you manage this process?

From the first consultation, I stress that open communication is a critical component of the design process. The challenge is translating one medium into another - in the case of architecture, it’s taking the words and ideas a client has and making that into a drawing set that speaks back to them. I find that being open to a client’s ideas is inspirational, but I never lose sight of the fact that a big part of my responsibility is communicating what is realistic and that I am hired for my ability to scope and deliver a project that can be built.

What are the main steps of residential projects? How do you work?

It's always nice to get a sense of budget up front to help set expectations and have an open understanding of all the elements we are managing to. Once the contract is agreed to and signed, I document existing conditions and provide the necessary schemes that allow me to iterate in a productive way. These iterations eventually become design development documents and construction drawings which are used for costing and permitting. I’m involved throughout the entirety of a project, from the initial consult through construction administration, which is why I’m selective about the contractors and consultants I work with.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

You have lots of completed and in-progress projects. Which one is your favorite?

My favorite is usually the next one. Each project informs the next and looking back at my first projects I'm amazed at how much I've learned and been able to incorporate into both current and future projects. Currently, I can’t wait for the Wellesley Tudor Project to commence this Spring, we had to receive Special Permitting from the Town to construct the project and we went through great lengths to preserve existing exterior materials (brick and slate) to be used as part of the addition. We married the old materials with new weathered materials to create a three-story addition that looks as though it has always been there. This is what I love to do most, and try to do well.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

In your opinion, what is the relation between Low Budget - Short Project Time - High Quality? Is it possible to combine all in one project?

Budget is relative and what might be small for one client could be large for another. The trick with budgeting is finding the correct ratio of scope to quality. I would rather provide a client with a thoughtful program and quality build than sacrifice at the expense of making something too big or wasting space. The hard part is that clients often assume that I will be able to provide them an accurate and upfront price to have their project built. However, it's not easy to estimate - project price is affected by any number of factors that determine the ultimate cost, the primary being that I ultimately don't build the project, contractors do! No one wants to sacrifice quality, the goal is to scale the project in such a way that the homeowner can afford high quality while sticking to a budget.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

What is the best advice you have received, and what advice would you give to young architects?

Never underestimate your value as a professional. A tremendous amount of work, schooling, studying, and experience went into becoming a professional architect and all of those things carry enormous value. And you only get better with age.

How can our readers follow Keri Murray Architecture?

Readers can check out my website and subscribe to my Newsletter. They can also follow me on Facebook (@kerimurrayarchitecture), Instagram (@kerimurrayarchitecture), and Houzz. Instagram is a wonderful place to see frequent posts from me Projects in Progress - in-flight images of design and construction.

Keri Murray Architecture

Keri Murray Architecture

What is coming up next for you?

I'm looking to hire key team members to help expand my brand and bandwidth. I still want to be able to work directly with clients and my focus will always be on delivering quality designs, so this will help allay some of the everyday demands of growing my business.

Thank you Keri for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Keri Murray Architecture





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