If you follow our blog, you know that music is an important part of MSB Architects. Through our Crescendo Fund, we have donated over $10,000 towards the local school music programs, in addition to strongly supporting the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. With all our connections to music, I have been asked how music influences our designs. Generally speaking, there isn’t a direct correlation between a specific song and a design. However, there are times when it occurs.

In 2013, MSB Architects was hired to design a restaurant in Berkeley Springs, WV. The owner wanted the design to reference a locally significant historical feature–the quarry. So, we researched mine and quarry architecture, which is strictly utilitarian. As you can imagine, that doesn’t lend itself to architectural inspiration. However, what we discovered was a unique arrangement of spaces. Additions were literally shoved into each other as the need arose, exactly at the spot needed. This lead to the basis of our design with meandering lines and a lack of right angles.

Canary Grill

Around the same time, I attended a singer/songwriter showcase. In addition to our own Raquel Orsini, Kenny Ray Horton also performed. He sang ‘A Canary Song’ about how miners would bring canaries into the mines. If the canaries were singing, the miners knew the air was safe and breathable. This song made an emotional connection to me that evening. My recent mine research and restaurant design put me in the miner’s shoes with the same need for bird song.

Back at the office, we were hard at work rendering the new restaurant. The facade looked empty, so we wanted to add a name or logo to spice it up. However, the owner didn’t have a name for his restaurant yet. ‘A Canary Song’ was still fresh in my mind, so we decided to add a canary image and call it Canary Grill. The owner liked it so much it stuck. Part way through construction, I received a call asking if it was okay to use the name and the logo image for the restaurant. I was humbled by the request and of course, had no issues with them using it.

This story shows you never know where inspiration will strike. Architecture is influenced by the local community, adjacent architecture and prominent environmental features, and yes, sometimes music.

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