Jeff Murray, FAIA

This Pittsburgh boomerang spent 30 years away; see what he thinks of it now

By Posted on March 5, 2014

w-dossier-JMurrayName: F Jeffrey Murray, FAIA
Firm: ch2m (formerly branded IDC Architects)
Family: wife Gail, children Jake and Clara
Years in practice: 30 plus
Education: B-ARCH Notre Dame, M-ARCH Ohio State
Your first job: Caddy at Oakmont Country Club at 13.
Building you’d like to tear down: NOT the Igloo (oops, too late).
What’s the best part of your job? When a client says ‘I had no idea it would be this cool.’
What would you change about your job? To not have to listen to the advice of lawyers and insurance people so much.
What have you always wanted to tell your clients? “Thank you for giving us the opportunity” (and we do tell them that all the time).
What’s the most annoying thing architects do? Act entitled; we need to realize that we as a profession can be replaced; we have to constantly demonstrate our value and improve our game.
What’s the next big architectural trend? I’m not big on trends but I think there will be a lot of interest in interactive environments and responsive buildings (deeper integration of technology/sensors/actuators with ‘traditional’ design elements like space/light/color/material to enhance human experience).
Advice to young architects: Learn from your elders, but as Einstein said ‘never stop questioning’.
The one thing you wish they’d teach you in school: To integrate design studio more deeply with technical classes to better synthesize ‘experiential’ and ‘technical’ design.
Architectural quote to practice by: “Charles Eames was right about constraints; they are the key to understanding design”. –Bill Moggridge
Code/zoning requirement I’d change if given the chance: Throw out all prescriptive codes and focus exclusively on performance codes supported by computational modeling.
Favorite tool (can be digital, drafting, physical,…): Golf clubs.
Favorite building: In the U.S., it’s a tie between the Kimbell Art Museum (Kahn) and the Library at Mt. Angel Abbey (Aalto).
Favorite outdoor space: A tie between The Lawn at UVA and Piazza Navona in Rome.
Favorite indoor space: Either the Pantheon or the atrium of the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles
Favorite city: Another tie – Rome and Barcelona (but Pittsburgh rates high).
Architect you’d like to have a drink with: Alvar Aalto
Favorite architecture book: ‘The Social Logic of Space’ by Bill Hillier (because it demonstrates how the built environment shapes human interaction).
Wish list for downtown Pgh: Further expand the network of diverse and experientially rich outdoor spaces and strive to make it a top ten pedestrian experience worldwide.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been? Baseball player (or so I wish to believe).
Someday I’d like to: Write a book that people wanted to read.
I want to be remembered for: Having a positive impact on the public conversation: ‘why architecture matters’ (through the work and the words).
People would be surprised to know that: As a student I was temporarily detained by the Vatican Police (but let go…a misunderstanding).
The secret to my success: Try to live by the Danish proverb: “life is not holding a good hand; life is playing a poor hand well”.
Building you’d like to renovate into something else and why? I’d repurpose any of the mega industrial shells in the region (say, one on the Ohio River in Ambridge or McKees Rocks) to a multi-use, high tech R&D/commercial/business/recreational/cultural/agricultural center. Why? Because they are grand, top lit, basilican, urban artifacts that potentially provide unique and dramatic built environment experiences.
Where you live in Pittsburgh and why you think it’s great? Sewickley; a classic American town that provides easy access to both airport and downtown.
What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? Springsteen/Dylan/The Dead (whatever configuration); Blues/Bagpipes.
Favorite Kennywood ride: Thunderbolt
I belong to the AIA because: It promotes the advancement of knowledge.

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One Response to Jeff Murray, FAIA

  1. I worked with Jeff on a large project at the NIH. He has the ability to move a project team forward with great skill in difficult situations. He is a leader.
    Wayne Bishop Director of Preconstruction Services Kiewit Building Group

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