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UM’s School of Architecture dedicates The Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio

Date: 01.07.2019

Published On: Miami Community Newspaper

Miami-based Coastal Construction Group has announced that the University of Miami’s School of Architecture (U-SoA) celebrated the dedication of the Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio Building, a 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, on Nov. 29.

The ceremony showcased the importance of providing an open environment for architecture students, where they can engage in collaborative learning and utilize a state-of-the-art fabrication lab. The celebration also honored the generous support of the donors that made the innovative scholarly hub possible — chiefly Tom Murphy Jr., Coastal’s founder, chair and CEO, who provided the lead donation for the facility.

Designed by Arquitectonica and built by Coastal, the building was named by Murphy in memory of his father, Thomas P. Murphy, a painting contractor and builder in South Florida for more than 30 years.

An Irish immigrant, Thomas P. Murphy grew up during the Great Depression and was part of The Greatest Generation. He earned a purple heart for his service in World War II as a paratrooper and “Screaming Eagle” in the 101st Airborne.

“I grew up watching my Dad on job sites. He was my mentor and my best friend and is the reason that I went into the construction business,” Murphy Jr. said. “Our success is a tribute to him and our honor to name this building after him.”

Tom Murphy Jr. earned his contractor’s license at the age of 19, becoming the youngest contractor in state history, while attending the University of Miami. Shortly after earning his license, he took on the renovation of the fraternity house where he was living, and started his construction business.

After selling his first construction company, he founded Coastal Construction in 1989 and has grown the company to become one of the largest general contractors in the Southeastern U.S. with more than $4 billion in active commercial and residential projects throughout the state.

Today, Coastal maintains five offices in Florida and a diverse portfolio of building that includes hospitality, luxury residential, market rate and workforce apartments, educational, commercial, retail and mixed use developments. The family company is the contractor behind many of Miami’s most high-profile projects.

Located on UM’s Coral Gables campus and part of the U-SoA complex, the Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio will help the university and the city attract the next generation of architect and designer leaders.

With a large, open floor plan, the facility is designed to fuel innovation and drive creativity featuring exposed concrete walls and ceilings, and oversized floor to ceiling glass panels (18 feet high by 4 feet wide) that required a special one-time product approval because it had not previously been done in South Florida.

The design allows for up to 130 students to work in collaborative spaces and includes a modern fabrications lab and workstations, presentation areas, review spaces and offices. The large cantilevered roof slab suspended 18 feet by narrow steel pipe columns allows natural light to fill the space.

“We are hopeful that this environment will attract the best design students to the University of Miami,” Murphy said.

The Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio Building also signifies the essential partnership between design professionals and builders to bring a concept/building to life.

“We understand the critical role that architects play in the building process and the importance of investing in future industry leaders and giving back to the community. Every building we have ever built started with an architect,” Murphy added.

“We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the University of Miami and to have our family’s name on an industry building at the school where my sons, Tommy and Patrick, attended, and where my eldest granddaughter is currently attending,” Murphy said.

For more information on Coastal, call 305-559-4900, or visit