Friday, June 3, 2016

The Architect in the Community (VI): Jerryn McCray: "Architecture is not a Spectacle!"

Jerryn McCray (from the promo video)

Jerryn McCray is owner of Jerryn McCray Architect, a Mount Vernon architecture firm in Baltimore he founded in 2008. Before that Jerryn was employed at ArchPlan Inc. where he designed the original concept drawings for the Sphinx Club rehabilitation and new construction project on Pennsylvania Avenue.


At what age did you decide to become an architect?
9th Grade (approx. 14 years old)
What was the main reason you picked architecture as your profession?
Initially, my decision was based on the reality of built projects outliving me (as some form of a legacy) appealed to me greatly. As I matured and gained experience my focus became more based in my natural abilities and skills which lend themselves to a lucrative professional backdrop. I’m very glad I was surrounded by people who rarely overwhelmed me with the realities presented by the lacking diversity in our profession. I was typically the only black kid and I never shied to the rear in any situation. Never mattered too much and I totally could have if I let it…
What do you consider as your (or your firm’s) best project? Give one reason why? (Please attach one photo of the project)
My practice is new (8th year) and I am “young” in architectural terms (38). I’m not particularly proud of any of my projects’ aesthetics. I’m more proud that I have consistently proven to the marketplace that I can recruit and maintain a stable client base. The one project I feel will begin to qualify as me being proud is on the boards - I’m contractually prohibited to share images. To be continued…
From McCray's website: Residential addition
What is your favorite work of architecture worldwide? Give one reason why. (Pick one image from the internet that explains your choice).
Paul Rudolph’s “Tuskegee Chapel”. This project, though rarely published, personifies modern expressionism while carefully manipulating a rigid and modular building material (the brick). I initially chose to study architecture at Tuskegee University to be close to this building. I soon transferred to Auburn University after realizing one building alone could not make me a decent architect. However, Paul Rudolph studied at Auburn as an undergraduate… I basically began my career by stalking the ghost of Paul Rudolph J
How would you describe the state of built architecture in Baltimore based on what has been built in the last 30 years.
Baltimore’s architecture is forced into an “underdog” status due to a general lack of confidence in its ability to compete with adjacent, more lucrative, markets.
Virgin Islands University Residential Hall (Source: website)
Which is your favorite neighborhood in Baltimore?
Mount Vernon
What single piece of advice would you give the new Mayor regarding Baltimore’s built environment?
Free the built environment from often outdated zoning restrictions and unnecessary overlays!
What do you see as Baltimore’s biggest problem. Name one idea how to overcome it.
Baltimore’s biggest problem is poor leadership driven by officials elected by a largely under-educated populace. This can only be overcome by a fairer distribution of educational resources. This includes rethinking our unfortunate pattern of piling all of our talent into a small collection of private schools North of the City and only allowing for 2-3 competitive secondary public schools.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Candor.
Jerryn McCray rendering of Sphinx Club (ArchPlan Inc.)
One final comment of your own choice.
Architecture is not a hobby. Architecture is not a spectacle. Architecture is a profession.
This series of mini interviews with local architects will be continued.


Klaus Philipsen, FAIA



Links: