Situated in the center of North Carolina’s Triangle region, Cary is a flourishing city with much to offer. This city is one of the South’s fastest-growing communities with famous restaurants, world-class shopping, thriving business, top-tier entertainment, culture and arts, and a diverse choice of leisure and outdoor activities. This city is among the regions consistently recognized as one of the best places in the country to live, work, or start a business.
With that being said, there has been a continuous rise of architects specializing in commercial projects in or near the city. Our editorial team compiled a list of the best commercial architects in Cary, North Carolina, selected based on their previous experiences, portfolio, press coverage, and achievements.
Steve Hall Architecture
2054 Kildaire Farm Rd. #312 Cary, NC 27518
To meet the growing demands of quality designs and craftsmanship, Steve Hall Architecture was established in 2013. With over 35 years of expertise in the business and a wide range of project experience, the firm has been able to explore artistic expressions and practical construction. Under the leadership of the owner, Steve Hall, the firm has been granted a corporate license from the North Carolina Board of Architecture. Steve’s passion for design quality, material craftsmanship, and sound construction science has led the firm to win the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Triangle and North Carolina Merit Award.
Through a creative and open approach, excellent designs are created with sketches and renderings. The Beer Bottle Shop is among the many projects that the firm has tackled in the commercial section. The architecture in this restoration of an existing space is inexpensive and centered on the owners’ enthusiasm to share their expertise in a pleasant, friendly setting around a central reclaimed wood beer hall table. The design was created using an interactive, collaborative approach and was inspired by the variety of colors seen in the beverage.
Plan A Architecture
1313 Chapel Ridge Road, Apex, NC 27502
For over 30 years, Plan A Architecture has been combining the art and science of architecture. Established in 1989 by partners David Prestrud and Sara Grover, the firm has grown into a company that fulfills and exceeds client expectations while remaining within its financial budget. Plan A Architecture is most recognized for its restaurant design, but the firm has also worked on hundreds of thousands of square feet of office fit-outs, medical and dental offices, retail stores, educational institutions, and labs. Its goal is to customize its designs and services to the client’s vision and demands, regardless of the building type.
The firm’s extensive list of restaurant designs showcases its capability and expertise in the commercial section. One of its restaurant projects is the 7200-square-feet Parizade. Exaggerated columns, bending shapes, vibrant colors, and ceiling paintings are used to create an open and flowing celebratory environment with a touch of fantasy at this 200-seat restaurant and bar set between retail stores and a 10-story office tower. The views of a busy, open kitchen framed by copper and columns add to the lively ambiance.
310 Architecture + Interiors
302 Jefferson St. Suite 250, Raleigh, NC 27605
310 Architecture + Interiors is a Raleigh, North Carolina-based interdisciplinary design business. For 11 years, the firm has provided architecture, interior design, branding, and planning. As a multi-disciplinary firm, 310 Architecture + Interiors is able to handle a project’s demands from a variety of perspectives at the same time, offering a more comprehensive solution for its clients. Principal Dave Bradford, AIA, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), ensures that the firm grows by tackling new challenges. This practice has led the firm to win the Sir Walter Raleigh Award in 2017.
Each member of the firm brings its own set of interests and abilities to the table, resulting in a diverse variety of services it can provide to its clients. In the firm’s comprehensive portfolio of commercial, healthcare, and institutional projects, Craften Food Hall is a great example. This 3,000-square-foot project is a unique food hall idea that combines restaurant service with many food sellers. 310 Architecture + Interiors attempted to reimagine the social atmosphere and allowed consumers to spend more time with their friends instead of standing in line at Craften Food Halls.
Dawn Christine Architect, PLLC
701 East Chatham Street Suite 205, Cary, NC 27511
Although the firm Dawn Christine, Architect PLLC was founded in 2012, Dawn Christine has over 25 years of experience in the profession of architecture and in design. The firm provides a comprehensive variety of architectural services, including conceptual design and 3D visualization, as well as engineering construction drawing sets. To take a client’s project from idea to completion, the firm prides itself in conducting close collaboration with each client. CEO Dawn Christine believes that whether it’s to construct a high-quality residential addition, build a new custom house, or create a new company concept, the firm has the skills and knowledge to help clients reach and even exceed their goals. Throughout its nine years of being in the business, the firm has garnered several awards, including the International Property Award in the category of Residential Interior Private Residence for Standard to Stately for North Carolina in 2020 and has been featured in a cameo performance in Beyond the Block which was produced locally in the Triangle.
Dawn Christine Architect, PLLC believes that all good architecture starts with a well-thought-out concept which comes to life in a well-executed plan. The original design ideas of the firm are driven by the creative eye and unique design approach which artistically brings the project’s concept and vision together with the required technical aspects of the project. Her approach takes the design process beyond form and function, and designs both the interior and exterior architecture as a spatial progression which will evoke an emotional response. In addition to the firm’s comprehensive design approach, it also provides a pre-design service to assist clients in making informed selections early in the process which simultaneously brings forth the best design options while maximizing the project budget.
This featured project is an ongoing commercial initiative by the firm that follows the same approach. ONYX hair boutique is a hair salon in Waverly Shopping Center in Cary that aims to merge two things that are important to many people: “bringing beauty into the world, but doing it responsibly and sustainably.” The owners hired Dawn Christine, Architect PLLC to create a flagship design concept which would reflect the artistic and natural approach of the salon. To achieve this, the architectural firm needed to transform an existing Menches Yogurt Store into a creative and artsy boutique hair salon. Dawn took the “O” in the salon’s name and integrated both the endless circles as well as the soft curves to define this flagship location. The firm’s design and spatial expertise is clearly seen in the transformation of this space.
5100 Unicon Drive Suite 103, Wake Forest, NC 27587
Since its inception in 1998, Gontram Architecture has been providing clients a more flexible approach to architectural services, with a focus on cost management, contract administration, and design excellence. Gontram Architecture offers services that adhere to deadlines and maintain projects under budget. The firm’s founder, Edmund J. Gontram III, AIA, understands the client’s goals and makes them his own. Aside from being a licensed architect, Edmund is also a registered general contractor. In 2007, he was certified as a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Since then, Gontram Architecture has sought to incorporate sustainable design aspects into traditional projects, give insights on the benefits of green building, and decrease waste in the built environment.
Gontram Architecture has extensive experience in a wide range of architectural designs. One of its recent projects is the remodeling of an office at 315 North Academy Street. This project used to be a typical 1980s 2-story office building that remained semi-vacant. The firm managed to deliver an appealing exterior without breaking the budget. Gontram Architecture also replaced the entry materials, spruced up the existing canopy, rebuilt the pedestrian paths, and provided a bottom and top to the scaleless walls. The ultimate result is a significant improvement to a crumbling structure that has now drawn numerous top-tier tenants.
115 1/2 East Hargett Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Founded in 1993 by David Maurer, AIA, LEED AP, Maurer Architecture is an award-winning business based on Raleigh’s historic East Hargett Street in the center of downtown. David has since then been committed to offering high-quality personalized services by purposefully keeping the firm small so that it can dedicate its full attention to each project and client. The firm steadily built a reputation for honesty and excellence within the design community, enough to be featured in publications like SALT Magazine and Walter Magazine.
Maurer’s Architecture respects originality, transparency, and effectiveness. Its comprehensive portfolio reflects the finest projects achieved on time and on budget. The Goldsboro Fire Station, built as a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project in 1939, is a prime example of Art Deco Architecture in the city of Goldsboro. Utilizing historic tax credits for commercial use, Maurer Architecture worked with the building owner and tenant to design a wedding venue, photography studio, and CrossFit gym. The firefighter’s dormitory on the second floor was transformed into a large open event space with painted exposed brick, original steel windows, and exposed steel roof structure. The roof area of the first floor was transformed into a large, partially covered second story roof deck. The tower on the rear of the building was converted into an elevator tower, with a custom stair, which wraps the tower and provides direct access to the roof deck. The project earned a Preservation NC 2020 Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit.
436 N. Harrington St. Ste. 140, Raleigh, NC 27603
Architects Andy Lawrence and Tom Murphy formed what would be known as Olive Architecture in 2009. Andy offers Olive Architecture a wide range of experience, including thirty-eight years as an architect, general contractor, real estate investor, and developer. On the other hand, Tom provides over 35 years of design experience as a professional architect. Under the leadership of these two architects, Olive Architecture treats every project as if it were an investment of its own time, resources, and objectives. Hospitality, food service, mixed-use, pet care, single and multifamily architecture, and historic restoration are just a few of the areas that the firm has tackled.
Olive Architecture’s success is based on the client’s assurance that a principle will be active in their project at all times. A prime example of this is The Courtyard of Chapel Hill. The building is a self-contained mixed-use project with structures organized in a village-like environment that serves both visitors and residents. The entryway, courtyard, and shop spaces provide a welcoming atmosphere. Restaurants that are established add to the area’s energy and vitality. The exterior is mostly brick, with some stucco and wood siding thrown in for good measure. The improvements and expansions have given the complex new energy and relevance, extending its investment success for many more years.
The Raleigh Architecture Company
716 S. Saunders St., Raleigh, NC 27603
Since its inception in 2012, The Raleigh Architecture Company, partnered with The Raleigh Construction Company, has been offering excellent design, construction, and design-build projects. United by its love of modern architecture and high-quality craftsmanship, these two companies continue to surpass the demands of standard materials and craftsmanship for its clients. Co-owned by Robby Johnston and Craig Kerins, the firm attempts to maximize its clients’ financial resources by delivering efficient, cost-appropriate solutions to design challenges that match the intended purpose of each project. Bit & Grain and Triangle Downtowner Magazine have featured the firm’s commitment and dedication to promoting innovation and brilliance throughout the region.
The firm’s extensive portfolio reflects its creativity and ability to thoroughly understand the details and goals of each project. A great example of this is the firm’s take on the project at Arrow Cameron Village. This project was formerly a barbershop in a postwar outdoor mall that was refurbished to honor the space’s heritage. The material palette used in renovating also emphasized raw and exposed finishes. The use of space is defined by a “cloud” above the building made up of indigo-colored wood slats. This cloud gives way to a powder-coated bent steel canopy that stretches to the outside and cantilevers over the sidewalk, beckoning consumers inside. The front of the roof has an aluminum arrow logo that was developed and produced in the style of antique box letters signs.
Bobbitt Design Build
600 Germantown Road, Raleigh, NC 27607
Bobbitt Design Build was created in 1946 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Not only does the firm provide architectural design services, but it also provides integrated design-build, construction management, and general contractor services. Bobbitt takes a challenging building process and makes it simple for its clients. The firm’s quality does not reduce with its efficiency, as signaled by numerous awards in recognition of the firm’s designs and builds, including the 2014 Raffles Bronze Award for Performance. Spearheading this firm is CEO Brian Denisar, who is the company’s youngest CEO. Brian has over 17 years of construction with a proven track record of generating new business, managing projects, and successfully mentoring teams.
In the commercial construction industry, the Bobbitt experience is a refreshing change. One of its projects is the Carolina Express Car Wash in Apex, North Carolina. Bobbitt Design Build completed the building of a 100 percent water reclamation and underground sewer system for Carolina Express, which allows the company to use a third less water than similar facilities while also preventing polluted water from entering public sewers. The 1.25-acre site can handle 1,000 automobiles per day due to meticulous attention to detail, unique sound insulation, appealing prairie-style architecture, and accurate traffic flow design and efficiency.
401 N. West St., Raleigh, NC 27603
Cannon Architects was founded in 1995 by principal architects Roger Cannon, FAIA LEED AP, and Susan Cole Cannon, FAIA LEED AP, with a strong dedication to design and professional service. From programming and conceptual design to construction and move-in, this dedication to client services is based on a deep understanding of the project and the client’s demands. These two architects have a combined 56 years of architectural expertise and have worked on a diverse variety of design projects and finished structures during a 28-year span. Cannon Architects slowly developed into a woman-owned company, and in 2015, received the Firm of the Year Award from AIA North Carolina. Arch Daily, Architectural Record, and Inc. Magazines are among the several publications that have featured the firm’s progress in the architectural business.
Cannon Architects currently has four licensed architects and a skilled team of young designers that contribute to each project’s technical competence, variety with methods of representation, and excellent design abilities. This is showcased with one of its recent commercial projects, the AV Metro in Raleigh, North Carolina. This 5,500-square-foot office and storage facility is a hybrid construction, intended as a modified pre-engineered structure for an audio/visual production firm. The interior volume is basic, yet it holds designed items that distinguish functional zones. The arrangement of these elements creates a three-dimensional layering that is structurally comparable to the exterior’s two-dimensional textured façade.
501 Washington Street Suite G, Durham, NC 27701
Striving for perfection is what MHAworks, PA, is committed to doing— especially when it comes to offering exceptional client service. MHAworks, PA, or MHAworks is a commercial architectural business with locations in Durham, Greenville, and Asheville that serve customers throughout North Carolina. President Brian Maxwell has maintained the firm’s relationship-driven architecture practice that prioritizes connections above projects since founder Michael J. Hining, AIA started the firm. The firm’s high standard of service and excellent designs have been recognized by several publications like Glimpse Magazine, 500/5000 Magazine, and Durham Magazine. The firm has received numerous awards as well, including the 2019 Greenville Historic Preservation Commission Award and the 2017 AIA Divine Detail Award.
MHAworks’ portfolio reflects the firm’s commitment to achieving great results, with more than 80% of its projects coming from repeat clients. Retail, private health clubs, restaurants, and other businesses are among the firm’s diverse portfolio. This featured project is the Bella Trio Studio, one of the firm’s commercial projects. This space includes open ceilings, a clean look, and natural lighting to fit the studio’s industrial atmosphere. With white semi-gloss walls and light blue accents, the area is bright and airy, with dark premium vinyl wood plank flooring. The acoustics were a key concern since the studio has two distinct zones: a lively salon side and a peaceful massage/relaxation side, and achieving the right balance between these zones was critical.
5410 Trinity Road Suite 112, Raleigh, NC 27607
Since its inception in 1999, Commonwealth Architects has supplied a comprehensive variety of architectural and interior architectural services. As a full-service architectural company based in Richmond, Virginia, the firm specializes in commercial, multi-family, higher education, corporate, hotel, and government projects. Founding principal Domninic Venuto, LEED AP, ensures that the firm works hand in hand with each client to bring their vision to life. The firm’s enthusiasm for the built environment and dedication to it drives creative solutions in a variety of areas. This fervor for excellent designs has led the firm to win numerous awards, such as the 2020 Honor Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation VSAIA and 2017 IIDA Interior Design Excellence (IDEA) Award. More than that, the firm has also been recognized in several publications like Virginia Business magazine, Traditional Building Magazine, and Fort Norfolk Magazine.
Commonwealth Architects’ award-winning buildings and designs accomplish more than one goal: they help to build communities and contribute to a wider vision for how people will learn, live, and enjoy in the future. This featured project for RiverFront Investment Group is one of the firm’s commercial services that follow that very goal. The firm managed to design a space of a pleasant working environment and an inviting contemporary place for clients. Glass barriers were used throughout the meeting rooms to create light-filled open areas. The exposed brick walls are adorned with flat screen televisions. The spacious room, which was designed to be friendly and professional, is highlighted with historic oak timbers that give structural support and add warmth to the workplace. This project was awarded the Best Office Adaptive Re-Use in 2013 by Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate (GRACRE).
Cline Design Associates
125 N. Harrington Street, Raleigh, NC 27603
Founded in 1989 with a vision for improving communities by combining architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and interior design, Cline Design Associates has long been a prominent architectural firm. President Gary Cline understands that the firm’s success is based not only on outstanding design but also on the good experience that its clients have when working with the firm. By combining services, the firm effectively finds, creates, and implements design ideas that celebrate each project’s uniqueness. For 32 years, the firm has offered varied, dynamic, and high-quality spaces that inspire people to connect and foster a warm community. These designs have won the firm several awards since its establishment, including the 2021 Space Award Top Mixed-Use Development and the Space Award Top Multifamily Development in 2020.
Throughout the southeast and beyond, Cline Design Associates has developed hundreds of multi-family, mixed-use, retail, and hotel buildings. One of its completed projects is the 50,000-square-foot renovation and conversion of an old cotton storage warehouse. Cline Design Associates was able to develop a mixed-use, community-friendly setting that included office space as well as big and small-scale local retail options. Bowers Fibers is a new attraction for tourists, shoppers, and professionals, with approximately 25,000 square feet of outdoor space and pedestrian roads. With meeting areas for people to meet and engage, the walkable site encourages community inclusion and a balanced, sustainable lifestyle.