If you've driven up or down Rowe Boulevard over the last few years, you may have noticed the transformation of a nondescript, white stucco office building on the northeast corner of Rowe and Melvin Avenue . For years, the little office building, which originally housed a pediatrician and some small businesses, had only a blank, dingy wall facing the busy boulevard. No one really noticed it.

Then, three years ago, things began to happen to that tired building at One Melvin Avenue . Catherine Purple Cherry Architects and Sterling Acceptance moved in. (In case you are wondering, the name Purple Cherry is for real. Cathy Purple married yacht broker Michael Cherry, and her name became Cathy Purple Cherry.) Watching the transformation of that tired building into crisp, inviting offices was like watching one of those old Disney cartoons when, in a cloud of busy workers, a skyscraper rises, whole and handsome, from the ground up.

In 2006, more changes came to the building at One Melvin Ave. and the architectural firm it houses. The blank wall facing Rowe Boulevard was adorned with three large, vivid panels designed by artist Sally Wern Comport. The three-panel mural depicts Annapolis with colorful sails and rooftops. And Catherine Purple Cherry welcomed a new partner, Julie Wilson. The firm became Purple Cherry Wilson Architects.

Like the bright, crisp original remodeling and the captivating mural, Cathy Cherry and her new partner, Julie Wilson, are perfect compliments in design-style and expertise—an architectural “dream team.” Cathy's energy fills a room as she enters; you know she misses nothing. Her direct manner instills confidence. Julie's style is unruffled. Her generous smile and quiet ease reflect her sense of self-confidence and experience.

Purple Cherry and Wilson speak animatedly about their work— the challenges that present themselves and the solutions they devise. "Architects can make lives less chaotic by the way they organize spaces and the things in them – they [architects] can make people happier by recognizing that light and color have a powerful impact on emotions," says Purple Cherry. Wilson notes, "Our designs reflect the identity our client sees for the site. That identity should be memorable, richly contemporary with detail and color."

Both women care how their building designs affect the people who work and reside within them. Their firm states that design must "take into consideration the personalities, desires and tastes of the individuals." As mothers—Cathy has three children and Julie has two—they are accustomed to responding to the needs of others, solving problems and adapting to change. Just as wise parents respect a child's individuality, they see each design with fresh eyes.

As architects, they collaborate with the project's stakeholders, just as parents work together to raise a child. They combine their experiences and skills to meet the requirements of each architectural project they undertake. Arundel Lodge, Inc., on Route 2 near the Annapolis Harbour Center , perfectly exemplifies the capacity of Purple Cherry Wilson Architects to design surroundings to meet exceptional and specific needs and enhance them. For example, the Lodge's design takes into consideration traffic flow throughout the building, making it very easy for those who use the Lodge's facilities to find their way around.

As successful business women, Catherine Purple Cherry and Julie Wilson know the constraints and concerns of their clients. Their designs address issues of aesthetics and function and incorporate innovation with tried-and-true solutions.

Have you dined at Yellowfin Steak and Fish House on the South River ? What about Big Fish Grille in Crofton? Pretty memorable restaurant designs, aren't they? You probably noted the interior space—dramatic, fun, interesting, and well planned to meet your dining needs and provide the staff with the right spaces in which to serve the guests. Both restaurants were designed by Catherine Purple Cherry Architects. In Annapolis , the firm has projects underway on Main Street , at Taylor Circle , on West Street and Forest Drive . In addition to these commercial and public projects within Annapolis , the firm has private residences, businesses and educational facility design projects under development across Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties .

Wilson is designing a middle school and a Math/Science/Technology building for Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills. Purple Cherry Wilson Architects also has projects in Arnold and Millersville: including the Opportunity Builders Incorporated , a vocational training center as well as interior design and programming for Providence Center, Inc. In Pikesville , the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory is a Purple Cherry Wilson design. "Senior staff at the Lab tell me recruitment numbers have jumped with the opening of the new facility," Wilson says. This reaction is exactly what these architects work to accomplish.

A major goal for Purple Cherry Wilson Architects is to design more LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified buildings. What does that mean? In 1998, the US Green Builders Council established five criteria for environmentally responsible building design and construction: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality .

The projects of the firm reflect this sense of responsibility to the environment as well as their interest in designs for schools and business. Their "green" designs incorporate such technology as passive solar collectors and solar glazing, recycled carpets, and renewable building materials such as linoleums, cork, and bamboo. In the Garrison Forest School Math/Science/Technology building, for example, the architecture demonstrates for students how design can serve both the purpose of the structure and the environment—glass roof canopies conceal solar panels; thermal coatings on windows change color based on external temperatures.

In addition to meeting the national guidelines on environmentally responsible design, the Firm's projects must accomplish three goals set by Purple Cherry and Wilson: first, satisfy the occupants' needs in traffic flow, lighting, and sound control; then, fulfill the property owner's requirements for budget and size; and finally, establish a memorable presence within the neighborhood, adding a unique presence while gracefully fitting into the surroundings.

Wilson smiles as she recalls the Public Safety Training Center in Sykesville, which she designed in 2004. "The cadets were moving from a renovated missile silo. We wanted these future police officers to feel proud of their campus. I wanted the design to feel collegiate, but we were on a tight State-dictated budget. The new Training Center has been a huge success. Students and faculty are comfortable and proud of their facility.

"The recruitment officer called to tell me that men and women are clamoring to join and recruitment numbers have jumped. He said the new training center played a large part in the successful recruitment," notes Wilson . In a real way, the Public Safety Training Center is exactly what Purple Cherry Wilson Architects works to accomplish.

As architects and business women, Catherine Purple Cherry, AIA, and Julie Wilson, AIA, are dedicated to meeting the needs of their clients and improving the daily lives of the people who use the buildings they design.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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