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Clare Murray of Levitt Bernstein: ‘Being a woman has had a positive effect on my career’

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In the run-up to this year’s Women in Architecture Awards on 2 March, we asked leading figures in the profession to tell us about their career, inspiration and how to make the profession more welcoming to women

Clare murray pic bw2 lr

Where was your first job and where are you now?
My first job was in a fish and chip shop when I was 14 – it was owned and run by a fiery female who kept us all in check – there was a lot to be learned from her management style, good and bad!

After completing my first degree in architecture, I joined a small architectural practice, Paul Johnson Architects. There was a lovely small family feeling, where you were much appreciated and rewarded for good work. After my Part 2, I specialised in sustainable building and have climbed the ladder to head of sustainability at Levitt Bernstein. 

What inspired you to go into architecture?
My love of fine line drawing – hand me a Rotring pen any day and I’ll be happy.

Is there anything you would have done differently in your career?
Yes and no – sometimes I wish I had continued on the traditional route of becoming an architect – designing buildings and running projects. But the truth is I much prefer the technical aspects and variety of being a sustainability specialist.

What impact do you feel your gender has had on your career – either positive or negative? 
More recently, being a woman has had a positive effect on my career – I am quite often invited to present or write because there is a need for female representation.

What could be done to make the architecture profession more welcoming to women?
I like to think that the younger generations of women are as equally represented in architecture as men – I certainly was at university, and have been in my more recent workplaces. However, when women have children and need to juggle part-time hours with running a project, striking a balance seems to become much more challenging.

I am often invited to present because there is a need for female representation

What advice would you give to any young woman who is about to start a career in architecture?
Go for it! There really is no reason not to follow your dreams.

Who is your role model or mentor?
Alistair Barr from Barr Gazetas has been my mentor for almost two years; we were introduced by the UK Green Building Council after I completed its Future Leaders programme. He’s great for bouncing around ideas and encouraging me to take my next steps (even my much delayed Part 3). He also has a great take on women in architecture!

What is the most exciting scheme you are currently working on?
Colston Hall in Bristol – the refurbishment of a Grade II-listed concert hall. Great client and design team all working together to make it the best it can possibly be.

Clare Murray is head of sustainability at Levitt Bernstein, partner practice to the Women in Architecture programme

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