Welcome to Wagner Murray Architects
Some of our firm’s projects are not completely accessible through photographs. The vivid restaurant interiors and the extravaganzas for professional football may at first seem a collision of colors, textures and materials – a kaleidoscope of distractions. However, initial garish impressions give way to a more reflective analysis. Our work does not stalk about on stilts, but is anchored in a deep understanding of the design process as a complexity of many voices and forces that lie behind appearance. It is difficult and painstaking work that recognizes business realities of a restaurant – its small window of time with which to make an impression and gather a clientele, and its equally projected short life span. It is also, we believe, a fine imagination that can address the mammoth enterprise of professional football with business acumen and an understanding of brand identity. To shape the vast spaces and accommodate the burgeoning crowds requires a technical knowledge of stadium infrastructure and an awareness of pop culture underpinning this entertainment. The level of refinement from the massive public sculptures to the dinnerware in the luxury boxes is remarkable and, not least of which, recognizes our firm’s celebrated versatility.
What actually may account for our success is a reconsideration of the role and process of architecture. For a small interdisciplinary firm, our compendium of work is impressive in its breadth and standard of quality. What we have posited is a formulation of architecture that traverses the difficult demands of ingratiating public taste while elevating cultural values with a promise of a complete city. To advance this cause requires experimentation and risk. In this regard, one might understand the exuberant interiors as laboratory of sensory mix – research into smaller experiences accumulated for a larger impact. Thus, the restaurants as fields of study should be considered precursors to ideas such as that realized in the Seventh Street Station (1998-2001), a utilitarian building brought to urban life by inviting the passers-by to touch and change its color. And the extravagant football spaces may be interdependent with the Corridor Project for Wachovia (2001-02). With the latter, we have attempted to make something out of nothing – a luxury box distilled to its essence – a sumptuous feast for the eye and a lesson in 19th century color theory.
Excerpted from an essay on Wagner Murray Architects by Robert Dunay, Professor of Architecture, Virginia Tech.