Provoking Magic with Memory and Emotion

An Extraordinary Event

The famed intersection of Trade and Tryon in Charlotte’s Center City will soon add an extraordinary event to the entry of 101 North Tryon Street (formerly Independence Center). The installation will celebrate its upscale lobby renovations with a mural sized glass art installation. Heralding the historic importance of this location along with celebrating the city’s ongoing commitment to actively engage the arts and cultural celebrity of Charlotte’s urban core.

The custom designed, black-back illuminated installation will be nearly 375 square feet and through a series of vibrant overlapping colors, will add an energetic and vigorous focal point to Charlotte’s premier intersection.

The lobby interiors will feature over 400 suspended colored and illuminated acrylic panels creating a stunning, inspirational and kinetic experience for the building’s tenants and visitors.


Video: Sailing the High Seas with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium improvements were completed in August 2016. Wagner Murray Architects designed premium seat upgrades, six large-format video boards, ribbon boards, and two new “hall of fame” clubs featuring 220-foot-long retractable windows. Major luxury suite improvements completed the upgrades, placing the 20-year-old stadium at the forefront of the NFL fan experience for the 2016 season and beyond.

500 Level Upfit Receives Kudos from Visiting Team

The 500 Level at Bank of America Stadium serves approximately 35,000 upper-deck fans. A resent redesign, completed for the 2016 season, elevates the formerly gray color palette with rich, Panther-blue hues.

Panthers 500 Level

Expanded lighting and increased points-of-sales blend in seamlessly, while wood accents on the concession stands mirror the lower level’s JJR BBQ Shack.

Panthers 500 Level

Even an opposing team executive liked what he saw, commenting on a recent tour that for the Panthers, its’s all in good taste.


Welcome to Our Panthers Den

With back-to-back playoff seasons in 2013 and 2014, and a third consecutive division title in 2015, the last few years have proved to be among the most exciting in the Carolina Panthers’ twenty seasons with the NFL.

For Wagner Murray Architects, the past couple of years have been among the most meaningful in the firm’s twenty-year relationship with the team.


WMA again joins a collaborative roster of project vendors to deliver a five-year Bank of America Stadium renovation package that rebuilds the stadium’s interior with technology and security upgrades and new features that make it faster for fans to enter and quicker to get around.

WMA led the design of the video board and escalator upgrades, completed in 2014, followed by a level-by-level rebuild of the stadium’s interiors, which will continue into 2017.

As sports franchises of all stripes make investments to improve the “fan experience” (a recent term of art that’s fully aware the word fan is short for fanatic) through technology and design, it seems there’s never been a better time to give in to a love for the game. In an increasingly virtual, on-demand and autonomous world, there’s also nothing like the real thing – live.

And it’s better than ever.


Across the league, premium, upscale and luxury characterize the new minimum guidelines for clubs and suites.  The Carolina Panthers’ are no exception.  Two fully redesigned member clubs, Suite 32 and Suite 51, offer unparalleled amenities including expanded food and beverage options, available with in-seat service, in richly appointed lounges and luxury boxes.

For WMA, it’s about helping Bank of America Stadium set the benchmark for sports venue design.

Are you ready for Game Day?

Boy Band, Biscuits and Belmont

When the pop rock band the Jonas Brothers covered the punk track “Year 3000” on their double platinum, self-titled album, Jonas Brothers, they peeked into a future where people live underwater, teenage boy rockers make the hearts of girls with Princess Lela-style hair quiver, and their descendants (a great-great-great-granddaughter) are “doing fine.”  And everyone bought their seventh album.


The pop group’s optimistic vision decades from now is a good thing (they seem to suggest that they’ll still be churning out hits well past their centennial birthdays) for their legions of fans including, we might imagine, the mer-princesses making their home under the sea.

But the merry take on the distant future that their song conjures up can also be said to apply to something closer to home and happening now. And that’s the difference their family is making in their adopted hometown of Belmont.

The brothers may not have known it at the time they released the album in 2007, but their enormous success has had a ripple effect in the small town just outside of Charlotte where their grandmother once worked in the local textile mills.  Kevin Jonas Sr. and his wife opened Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in 2016, to the kind of instant fame that has become a Jonas family signature. Wagner Murray Architects was honored to help make comfort food served in an “industrial-chic” setting possible for Nellie’s Southern Kitchen by overseeing the redevelopment of the restaurant site, a 1930s-era retail store.


Nellie’s has become another signature spot in Belmont’s Main Street revitalization with a second-story roof deck and bar and takeout annex occupying a former adjoining service station.

The design pays homage both to the biscuit-n-gravy cooking Kevin Jonas Sr.’s mother Nellie, a Belmont resident until 2011, was famous for as well as his sons’ rock-star triumphs.  A house band performs nightly and a beautifully stylized floor-to-ceiling portrait of Nellie hangs on a wall.

WMA looked for a perfectly-pitched balance between rooted, down-home and traditional and a modern, upbeat, global vibe in pairing warm wood tones and cotton-colored walls with exposed ceilings and concrete floors. Like the Jonas Brothers’ music, it’s a space that is cheerful, good-natured and bright — but with a puckish twist.


And, just as a great deal of hard work goes into becoming an overnight sensation, the site development presented a number of technical and engineering challenges, such as adding a second-story roof deck and bar and converting an adjoining service station into the restaurant’s takeout annex.  The upside, though, is that Nellie’s has become another signature spot in Belmont’s Main Street revitalization.

Like banana pudding, pimento cheese and the pleasant fizz of your favorite pop song, it’s a space that gives you a good feeling, which is just what we were aiming for.

Press Release: WMA takes first place in international design awards for UNC-Greensboro pedestrian underpass


Wagner Murray Architects, P.A., a boutique commercial architecture practice in Charlotte, N.C., took top honors in the Collaboration of Design + Art (CODA) Awards, an annual international competition that judges design projects on their successful integration of commissioned art into interior, architectural or public spaces.

The winning project, a 200-foot pedestrian underpass that connects the UNC-Greensboro campus with a footpath beneath three active railroad lines, won in the Institutional category. The CODA jury considered 400 projects from 29 countries in 10 categories.  Projects were judged on the extent of collaboration between craftsman to integrate commissioned artwork into the design project, and the influence of that artwork on the overall design.

The underpass boasts a vaulted ceiling with ribbons of cast concrete painted in navy and gold, the university’s colors.  In selecting the project for the top prize, one juror stated, “Stunning.  One does not normally think of tunnels as optimistic places, but this one is a bright, vibrant weave of color and panels of light.”

Creative manipulation of light was a theme among the winning projects. Taking first place in the Public Spaces category was an oculus design in student activity center at the University of Texas at Austin, a feature that floods the space with natural light and a programmed LED light show.  A riotous neon light installation gracing a landmark New York City hotel won in the Hospitality category.

The mission of the CODA Awards, now in its fourth year, is to recognize those building architecture and interior design projects that promote happiness, well-being and beauty. For Wagner Murray Architects and their team, solving the practical problem of constructing an unimpeded pedestrian thoroughfare while also creating a delightful visual context, is a practiced part of the firm’s design philosophy.

“Our goal was to create a safe, welcoming and convenient access for students coming to and from campus, while also helping the university achieve their vision of an iconic gateway feature,” said David Wagner, the project’s principal architect.  “That we were able to integrate a pedestrian access point with a heavily-trafficked railroad right-of-way, and elevate it with engaging design elements, has allowed a corridor previously unapproachable to people on foot to become a destination and a gathering place for the university community.”

The accolades the project earned for collaboration were also not without merit, having required the project team to orchestrate re-routing utility lines and scheduling concrete pours weeks in advance with railroad operators.  The tunnel is the anchor project of a multi-year neighborhood vision plan that will include future campus building construction, as well as connections to the neighboring Glenwood community.

The $10 million project was completed in 2014.  New Atlantic Contracting of Winston-Salem was project contractors.  The underpass was previously recognized with a Best Small Project award by Engineering News-Record Southeast.

More information about the Collaboration of Design + Art, the Wagner Murray Architects project brief, and the other 2016 CODA Award winners is available at


Imagining a garden in the sky at 101 Independence Center

roof-garden_06bWhen Japan hosts the Olympics in 2020, the extraordinary displays of athletic prowess may be bested by the stark beauty and profound subtlety of the Japanese aesthetic tradition as imagined in the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

Balance and harmony are the highest ideals of the Japanese aesthetic sensibility, which is reflected in both the built environment, as the planned stadium will showcase, as well as in the county’s famed gardens and landscaping.  Traditional Japanese garden design continues to be celebrated around the world, particularly for the sense of quiet the muted colors and simple forms can cultivate.


Wagner Murray Architects is looking to bring this element of style to Charlotte.  The firm was recently engaged to design a rooftop garden accessible from a 6th floor terrace at 101 Independence Center in uptown Charlotte.  The 15,000-square-foot space will be heavily inspired by Japanese design techniques such as is found in the traditional stone garden.

roof-garden_10bWhile inspired by those traditions, the space will also play with texture, scale, lighting and other materials to harmonize with Charlotte’s other delightful and delightfully whimsical open spaces (such as the interactive water features found in Romare Bearden Park),  pocket parks (The Green), and public green spaces (Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery).


The Independence Center project will utilize landscaping best suited to challenging urban environments including drought tolerant plants and light-reflecting materials.  Rooftop gardens are distinctive for their environmental benefits: reducing heat absorption and energy loads and reducing stormwater runoff.

As useful as these environmental benefits are, however – a 2005 study of Tokyo found that installing rooftop gardens on half of the city’s buildings could bring down ambient temperatures by nearly a degree – rooftop gardens also provide an inspired retreat from the traffic and noise at street-level.


Indeed, rooftop gardens create another level of activity in cities, but one that is decidedly less chaotic.   Situated just a few stories up from street-level, the 101 Independence rooftop garden will be visible to office dwellers in several neighboring high-rises and will be accessible from the adjacent office tower.

WMA looks forward to completion of this project.  We believe Charlotte has a rich tradition of inspired landscape planning — from garden suburbs to public parks.  The 101 Independence Center project will connect to that tradition, adding to the growing inventory of interesting open spaces in Charlotte’s fast-changing, dynamic urban environment.



David Wagner in Charlotte Observer: A Distinguishing Symbol for Inclusion

Last fall, David Wagner wrote a column for The Charlotte Observer describing a recent entry into a design competition:


Recently, I submitted an Ideas project to the London International Creative Competition. The concept was titled “A Giving Ground,” simply stated, it is a public garden of words. It was short-listed as one of the notable entries in the competition that drew thousands of entries worldwide.

The idea is based on an age-old belief that discourse, and the human capacity to use language and words as a positive force, is both universal and unassailable. Positive discourse overcomes the alienating power of indifference and embraces diversity and inclusion.

Read the column here.

Creating the fan experience: David Wagner on NFL stadium design

During the Carolina Panthers’ wildly successful 2015 season that saw the team reach Super Bowl 50, diehard fans attending home games at Bank of America Stadium were treated to a perfect home record and an updated stadium experience designed by David Wagner of Wagner Murray Architects.


From new scoreboard displays to updated concourse lighting, Wagner Murray has been tackling upgrades and designs for the Panthers’ home for years. In a cover story for the Charlotte Business Journal, Wagner says the stadium has always been in good shape.

“It’s a question of taking something from good to great. And the way you have to do that today is be more fan-accommodating. This is what it’s all about today.”

Read the story (PDF (16MB) or at to learn how David Wagner is making Bank of America Stadium one of the best places in the NFL to watch football — maybe even better than your couch.

Bank of America Stadium

The Bank of America Stadium renovations opened with a bang August 2 with an International Champions Cup soccer match.  Our firm, as lead designer and architect for the project, measure this project not only as a milestone in the improvements to Bank of America Stadium after a twenty year association, but also a turning point for the firm in providing comprehensive design services for large scale projects such as Bank of America Stadium.

northgate richardson2

Our intention and our passion

Welcome to Wagner Murray Architects. Our intention, as designers, is to continue to reinforce our beliefs while maintaining our professional integrity. We will use this blog from time to time to introduce our thoughts and ideas as a reflection into how we pursue our passion. As an introduction, we will begin with a piece I wrote 30 years ago for a conference I attended at Virginia Tech, where I studied architecture. While the length of time may be notable, what I said then and what I believe today is a message that remains relevant and timely:

I have always held the belief that Architects could control many aspects of a project, not only the building design but also what is contained within the building. I recently attended a lecture given by Viennese Architect and Designer Hans Hollien. It was the first opportunity to see the range of his work over the past fifteen years and I left with my feelings reconfirmed.

Read more…

Video: Wagner Murray in Center City Charlotte

WMA’s work has been written into Charlotte’s architectural history the last twenty-five years. While our projects vary in range and scope, we recently took a walking tour to specifically document what WMA has done to shape the Center City. The continuous scroll highlights five buildings that express a memorable presence on the street.

Architect Dave Wagner founded the firm in the early 1990’s. WMA has been fortunate to be involved in a number of exemplary and notable projects– From the New Levine Museum of the South, to 7th Street Station, to The Arcade at The Green. Our image reel also features WMA’s work at South Tryon Square. Incorporating the 14-story former Barclay’s American building built in 1961, it’s outstanding features include gray and green granite, glass, and ornamental metal.

We live by the motto, “Architects can make a difference”. We strive to create an urban environment that is more pedestrian-friendly, pleasant, and interactive. By improving the quality of our surroundings, our hope is to make the Center City a better place for all of us.

Thoughts or comments? Feel free to follow us here on our blog, or find us on Facebook, as we are frequently updating it with our newest architectural projects in Charlotte.

Welcome to our new website

Wagner Murray is pleased to announce our new website. Designed to better showcase the breadth of our portfolio, we hope you enjoy exploring our projects, new and old. With mobile optimization, gorgeous photos, and a new blog, we hope you’ll continue to visit for great content about architecture in Charlotte and the Southeast, urban design, and more.

The site was designed and developed by Annex Studio in Charleston.