Asheville Architect, Amy Conner-Murphy

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Asheville Architect, Amy Conner-Murphy, Opens Up About Architecture

Amy Conner-Murphy, a licensed architect who founded ACM Design over 12 years ago in Asheville, NC, has a broad base of experience in architecture and interiors. The following conversation gives you an up close and personal look at Amy and her approach to architecture.

Q:  What drew you to architecture in the first place?
A: “Between my junior and senior year of high school, my parents made arrangements for me to go work with several friends who had a variety of careers, just to see what their work was all about. When I first stepped into the architecture office of Allen Dryden, I was hooked! I never looked back and began studies in architecture the first quarter of my freshman year of college.”

Q: Where were you trained and who inspired you?
A: ” I learned the basics of architecture at Auburn University, receiving a Bachelor of Architecture. During that time I was privileged to participate in the School of Architecture’s study abroad program that gave me an incredible perspective on the history of architecture and its importance to people’s lives. Bobby McAlpine was a professor who most challenged and inspired me during my school years and I still admire his work today.”

Q: When you started your career, you were designing commercial projects. Where did you work and what types of projects did you design?
A: “I started my career with Overcash-Demmitt Architects in Charlotte, NC where I was involved in designing various projects with Nations Bank and the Student Health facility at Davidson College. Both were great learning experiences for me. I then joined Merriman Associates/Architects, headquartered in Dallas, TX, as a Director in their Charlotte office, managing design projects in Charlotte and south Florida. Part of my responsibilities there included being on the Executive Management Team, Marketing and Business Development and Director of Design. Those days were intense, but I learned an incredible amount about he inner workings of an architectural practice and about business in general.”

Q: You obviously enjoyed commercial architecture. What else did you do in this arena?
A: “In 995 I left Merriman Associates to become a Vice President for WGM Design, again in Charlotte. My time there was filled with great projects, including design work on Yager Corporate Headquarters, a South Park high rise building for ACC Management and Durham Academy.”

Q: So how did you shift your focus to residential architecture?
A: “My life and my focus shifted because my husband Steve and I became parents to two beautiful girls. That dramatic life change started me thinking about the importance and challenge of creating a “home”, not just drawing up house plans. As I really considered what that meant, I began the design work for my own home, for my family, which we built the next year. I was on the job site daily, even doing some of the work myself, which was a great learning experience for me.

In this home I learned the importance of thoughtful design with regard to function and to aesthetics and that this design process must be thorough from the beginning to avoid problems later on. Fortunately, because of that, there are only a few small details I would revise in this design.”

Q: What inspires you most about designing homes?
A: “The nature of my work is extremely personal. It is a privilege for me to get to know my clients well and to make a close connection with them. It is the only way to have the kind of insight about their lives that allows me to design a home that truly reflects their personalities and the way that they live. Together, we create the home that they have always dreamed of and to be a part of their dream come true is very fulfilling.”

Q: How do you approach each design project?
A: “The success of designing and building a home is dependent upon the team that is assembled to complete the project. I firmly believe in a team approach and that begins with my clients and me. I am the primary contact for each client throughout the entire design and construction process. Our team includes excellent design professionals who work with me to complete the projects. In addition to a successful client relationship, a strong working rapport between the architect and the builder is critical.  It can make or break a project.  The best projects result when the entire team employs good communication skills and are dedicated to quality and the commitment of creating a home.”

Q: You frequently do interior architecture and design, as well as outdoor living design too. Why is that important?
A: “Designing a home is about functionality and style. Even though the exterior may be dazzling, if the interior doesn’t work or isn’t comfortable, the design fails. The landscape, be it elaborate or simple, really completes the exterior architecture.  Many people choose to live in Western NC to enjoy the outdoors which makes integrating outdoor living spaces into the architectural design important.  For me, integrating architecture, interiors and outdoor living spaces into the overall design of the home just makes sense.”