‘I was convinced I wanted to be an architect’

Profile: Cormac Murray is working as an architect at O’Mahony Pike Architects and is a part-time lecturer at TU Dublin

Course: Bachelor of Architecture at TU Dublin

Why did you decide to become an architect?

There are many different pathways into architecture. For me, I always enjoyed drawing and writing. I also liked any kind of problem-solving, from puzzles to detective novels. Through writing, thinking and drawing, architecture allows me to develop creative solutions to complicated problems. I couldn’t imagine anything more suitable for me.

How did you decide on what course to study/college to attend?


By the time I was sitting my Leaving Certificate I was convinced I wanted to be an architect. I asked a few practising architects in my hometown for advice on colleges. I then attended open days for all the architecture schools. It was a close call, but what swung TU Dublin for me was the idea of being part of the bustling city every day, not insulated on campus.

What skills do you need to become an architect?

Above all, imagination. More specifically creativity, critical thinking and spatial awareness. You don’t necessarily need to be able to draw proficiently or have an aptitude for maths. There are so many genres of architecture it can suit many different people: some are essentially artists; others use computers and are like game-designers.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

When you have been struggling for a few days, weeks, or months to figure out the right design and suddenly it clicks into place. This is probably something only a very small number of people will notice or appreciate, but it is a wonderful feeling. Separately, publishing our book, The Dublin Architecture Guide, last year was a career highlight.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of your career?

The greatest challenge is how to stay up to date and educated in a very complicated and fast-moving industry, particularly when responding to the global threat of the climate crisis. You must be aware of history, trends, new technology and new legislation. On the plus side, this means it never gets repetitive.

What would your advice be to someone considering a career in architecture?

If someone asks you “what is your favourite building?”, this is not a trick question – it should be an answer personal only to you, and it should ideally be somewhere you visited.

It might be your school, a museum, your granny’s house, the important point is why. Start recording everything. Keep a diary or sketchbook and buy a camera, visit as many buildings and places in person as you can and jot down your thoughts, feelings and rough sketches, this is your irrefutable evidence.