I’ve always had a general sense that there is no project too big or too small,” says Catherine Purple Cherry, reflecting on a philosophy that she’s espoused since 1994 when she started her Annapolis firm. “I love the practice of architecture no matter what the size—solving challenges, communicating with clients.”
The architect, who grew up in Northern Virginia and moved to the Annapolis area when she married an Anne Arundel County native, discovered in her adopted city a great place to practice her craft. Her first niche: waterfront residential design—always plentiful in the Annapolis area. In time, her business grew out into other states, and today she and her staff work on projects of all shapes and sizes. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Purple Cherry says. “Annapolis has a nice small-town community feel so it’s easy to make business connections, but it’s close to Baltimore and DC, which allows for bigger projects.”
Purple Cherry Architects handles a wide range of commercial, non-profit and custom residential work. However, over the years its founder has carved another niche for herself in an unexpected direction: special needs consulting. Inspired by her oldest son who himself has special needs, Purple Cherry “became a kind of advocate for him”—an interest which she then incorporated into her career. Now, she travels nationally, consulting with local architects about residential communities for special needs kids. “We’ve done six different facilities in the state and also schools all over the country,” Purple Cherry says.
Not surprisingly, the firm is big on what Purple Cherry calls, “giving back to the community. The biggest portion of our commercial effort is non-profit. We just finished a pro bono project for Habitat for Humanity.” Despite the changes in her practice over the years, Purple Cherry’s love of being an architect has never altered. “Meeting and communicating with clients is my favorite thing,” she says. “My second favorite is the evolution of design.”
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