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The Best Commercial Architects in Phoenix

16 Min Read

The Phoenix metropolitan area’s skyline has long been crowded with construction cranes, and the desert mega-city often leads the nation in population growth. But even before the shock of the Great Recession, which hit the construction-reliant metro area hard, architects in Phoenix were on the leading edge of the international movement toward sustainable and green design. In recent years this movement has exploded with new energy and new ideas, leading to the ongoing revitalization and reimagining of the city’s downtown, and an epochal shift in the way architects and builders think about the desert’s challenges and gifts.


464 S. Farmer, Suite 101, Tempe AZ 85281

Experts in sustainability and environmentally conscious design, Architekton is a 25-person firm in Tempe led by founding Principals John Kane, Joe Salvatore, and Doug Brown. The three are all AIA members and LEED-Accredited Professionals. Seeking to design structures that fit into the regional urban context and are environmentally sustainable, Architekton has been recognized by AIA for its green design efforts as well as its excellence in architecture, especially for its academic and commercial facility projects. Additionally, many of its projects have been featured in publication rankings such as Engineering News-Record’s Best Specialty Project and Best of the Best Small Project.

Architekton designed the 62,000-square-foot Sun Devil Fitness Complex + Health Services Facility at Arizona State University’s West Campus. The beautiful glass and stone building is a LEED Gold-certified project and serves as an uplifting and healthy space for students and faculty. The complete structure includes running tracks, a huge pool, a bike co-op, and a game room. For another work, Architekton designed one of the most distinctive and creative buildings in the Phoenix metro area, the Tempe Center For The Arts perched on the banks of Tempe Town Lake. The design and its location pay tribute to the ancient cultures and dramatic natural features of Arizona. The building, all glass, and flying, jutting angles, was inspired by Anasazi villages with their kivas and plazas, as well as the towering rock monuments of Monument Valley and Tempe’s iconic Hayden Butte.

Cawley Architects

730 North 52nd Street, Suite 203, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Showcasing over 500 high-value design and construction projects in its portfolio, Cawley Architects has a strong reputation as a comprehensive firm serving Arizona’s diverse markets for over two decades. Throughout the Valley, the company has completed multi-awarded commercial projects, a product of its highly collaborative team of professionals whose focus is squarely on elevating every architecture’s form, function, and value. Some of its most recent awards include the 2019 AZ Big Media Real Estate Architects award for founding principal Sherman Cawley, AIA, SIOR, and the 2019 People and Projects to Know awards. Ranking Arizona also listed the firm for its #1 Rank for the Small Architecture Office awards for two consecutive years since 2018. Aside from its excellent reputation as a designer and a provider of innovative architectures, the company is also commended for its advocacy to deliver eco-friendly and highly sustainable structures in the region and beyond. LEED projects, for the Gold and Platinum certifications, can be found in its commercial, corporate, and healthcare portfolio. Phoenix Business Journal has featured some of the company’s memorable projects.

For the corporate commercial office, the company has completed several projects not just in the city but in other major Arizona areas. One of the firm’s design projects was for 2005 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix. The seven-story, 90,000-square-foot project was a collaboration with other leading contractors and companies in the field to rehabilitate and modernize the outdated structure and transform it into a state-of-the-art office complex. Adjacent to the site, a parking structure that can house 400 parking spaces was installed. In Chandler, the company executed its skills in mixed-use development in the city’s downtown area. The commercial building features a movie theater-slash-gastropub, Flix Brewhouse’s flagship store, and a first location in the state. The structure was designed to attract a diverse demographic, with commercial spaces for restaurants, fitness centers, shopping areas, and office spaces. In Tempe, the firm led the architectural team for a notable client, a contemporary retail furniture store located in the city’s most luxurious commercial avenues.

CCBG Architects Inc.

102 E. Buchanan Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004

For more than 50 years, CCBG Architects has been designing distinctive buildings around the Phoenix metro area, including many churches, recreation centers, and residential structures. The firm of 13 architects has two locations, one in Phoenix and another in San Diego. Both studios are very active in urban infill and adaptive reuse. In the past, the firm designed two chic urban apartment complexes in downtown Phoenix’s popular Roosevelt Row neighborhood. CCBG and its president, Brian Cassidy, are also deeply involved in the redesign and redevelopment of Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District as a new hub for tech start-ups. Cassidy has served as the president of the firm since 1988. He is a past president of AIA Arizona and was awarded the AIA Arizona Architects Medal in 2014. He is a member of the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture, and sits on the National Council of Architectural Registration Board. A graduate of Arizona State University’s College of Architecture, Cassidy sits on the board of directors of the Phoenix Community Alliance and the Downtown Community Development Corporation.

Once integral to a regional shipping and storage economy, the mountains of red-brick old warehouses south of downtown Phoenix that had been sitting dilapidated for generations are now magnets for tech start-ups, event companies, and young urban professionals looking for a bit of style and history. CCBG, which has its own offices in the historic Warehouse District, has designed several sleek, modern offices and other spaces here without sacrificing the warmth and inspiration from those historic, old bones.


1850 North Central Avenue, Suite 300, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Stellar customer services and lifelong relationships with its clients make Corgan one of the most client-centric companies in the region. For many decades, the company’s goal has centered around providing evidence-based, data-driven, and experiential research solutions to its markets. That process allows the firm to explore and fully understand the needs, desires, and dreams of its clientele in order to deliver designs that embody the brands of project owners and represent their companies’ mission and vision. The result is a portfolio of projects that have established their presence around the world. Each of the firm’s studios is led by principal architects and designers that have an average of 19 years of services in the industry. Its President, Steve Hulsey, is a member of the AIA and has been with the firm since 1989. Publications and industry organizations have constantly commended the firm for its contributions to the commercial, corporate, academic, and technology sectors, among others. Building Design + Construction Magazine listed it as the Top 1 firm for the Data Center Architecture category. ENR Texas and Lousianna recognized it for many of its education building design projects. In Arizona, the Indeed Regional Office design earned the Interior Project of the Year award given by The Real Estate and Development Award (RED) committee.

Some of its most unforgettable interior architecture and building architecture projects can be found in Arizona. A commercial office building named The Grid, found in Phoenix, is a 16,000-square-foot structure located at the center of the city’s Uptown corridor. Once a vacant building, it has been transformed into a hub that serves as a home for entrepreneurs and the area’s booming coworking spaces. Conference rooms, multi-purpose rooms, and other collaborative spaces are decorated with local art. The modern building features special acoustic sound mitigation and a tech-friendly app for the community’s members. In 2018, Interior Design Magazine featured the project and awarded it with the Honoree for Best Co-working Space recognition. The company also completed another Phoenix-based project For Zillow Group’s Zillow Offers, this time as an interior architect for the online real estate company’s sub-department. The building was designed to adhere to its home industry’s technology-based and highly collaborative start-up environment. The floor plan, divided into three partitions, features meeting spaces, break rooms, work sections, among others.

DWL Architects

2333 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Leaders in energy-efficient design, with more than 50 percent of its architects LEED-certified, DWL Architects opened in 1949 and has worked on many recognizable buildings around the Phoenix metro area, including stadiums, airports, libraries, and education spaces. As one of the oldest locally-owned architectural firms in Phoenix, DWL has completed around 200 projects through the support and expertise of its 50 staff. The firm is led by President Sandra Kukla. Kukla, a licensed pilot, concentrates her career on designing airport facilities. Her interest in aviation as well as her background in retail allowed her to complete full-scale and comprehensive architecture projects from design through construction administration. The firm’s work has been featured widely in local, regional, and national publications and has won numerous awards for design and architectural excellence.

DWL Architects is the prime architect and design team lead for the 1.9 million-square-foot Phoenix Sky Harbor Terminal 3 modernization project, a valuable and monumental effort to revitalize and expand one of the Southwest’s busiest airports. The project opens up the 30-year-old terminal and connects it to the rest of the city. Included in its redesign are 14 new skylights that will wash the interior in desert light. The revitalization also introduces a more expansive façade added to connect the airport to the rest of Phoenix by providing views of downtown and rugged desert mountains surrounding the city. The firm was also commissioned to partner with the local Salt River Indian Community to expand and remodel the Gric Huhugam Heritage Center. The project includes the transformation of the 6,800 square feet of unused space into a museum that will showcase the community’s long history of living and thriving in the region’s desert environment.


2575 E. Camelback Road, Suite 175, Phoenix, AZ 85016

A huge and celebrated international firm consistently recognized for its sustainability efforts, Gensler maintains a busy office in Phoenix staffed by a team of designers that has delivered many large academic, civic, athletic, and cultural buildings around the metro area and the Southwest. The local office is led by Design Principal Jay Silverberg, an acclaimed architect with more than 25 years in the business. Widely published and sought after as an architectural critic and lecturer, Silverberg earned his Bachelor and Master of Architecture at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Gensler’s Phoenix office is also led by Co-Managing Directors and Principals Dawn Hart and Martha dePlazaola Abbott. Hart is a registered architect with experience in large-scale projects and serves as the Vice-Chair of the Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation. Abbott, on the other hand, has been named one of AZ|RE’s Most Influential Women in Commercial Real Estate.

Through a collaboration with local firm Arkitecton, Gensler’s Phoenix office designed College Avenue Commons, a 137,000-square-foot, five-story, state-of-the-art building that houses classrooms, retail, offices, labs, and a pedestrian-friendly outdoor space at Arizona State University in Tempe. The $54-million project is a model of sustainable design. Its forecourts and atriums are flooded with desert light while still providing shade for recreation and shopping, as well as many elegant interior details. Gensler’s Phoenix office has also contributed to the city’s well-known baseball culture by designing a complete remodel of the Hohokam Stadium Spring Training Facility and practice fields for the Oakland A’s. The company was also commissioned along with several other firms to redesign the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix.

Jones Studio

205 S. Wilson Street, Tempe, AZ 85281

Recognized leaders in green design, Jones Studio was founded by architect and principal Eddie Jones in 1979. He was later joined by his brother, fellow architect and principal Neal Jones. Brian Farling and Jacob Benyi are also principals and partners in the firm. With years of expertise in efficient and sustainable environmental design, Jones Studio has won more than 190 awards for its projects and has been recognized by Architect Magazine as one of the industry’s Top 50 firms and a leader in sustainability. The firm is supported by a team of architects and has completed a diverse range of commercial, residential, education, repurpose, and government projects, including the 54-acre Mariposa Land Port of Entry at the US-Mexico Border and Arizona’s moving 9/11 Memorial.

Jones Studio designed the 260,000-square-foot, $93-million Beus Center for Law & Society at Arizona State University, a six-story building in downtown Phoenix’s urban core for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law offices and other commercial and academic facilities. State-of-the-art when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability, the building is open and roomy, connected by breezeways and outdoor spaces. Made of Arizona sandstone, aluminum, and glass, the building has a 400-seat lecture hall that becomes a unique outdoor space when the 50 by 50-foot glass door is open. In an interesting redevelopment project, Jones Studio was commissioned to design a unique community garden, performance space, and mixed-use development in the disused Monroe St. Abbey in downtown Phoenix. Once built for religious gathering, the old structure was constructed in 1929 in the Spanish Renaissance style. It had been unused and moldering since a fire in the 1980s.

Marlene Imirzian and Associates

8906 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85020

Architect Marlene Imirzian opened Marlene Imirzian & Associates in Phoenix in 1995. To start her career in the field, she attended the University of Michigan, where she received her bachelor’s degree and Master of Architecture before apprenticing with Detroit-based Modernists Gunnar Birkerts and William Kessler. Known for its sustainable design practices, Marlene Imirzian & Associates was named No. 18 on Architecture Magazine’s 2016 list of the Top 50 firms in the country, and has received AIA Arizona’s Firm of the Year Award. An AIA Fellow, Imirzian also has an office in Escondido, California, and she is a faculty associate at the School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design. The firm has completed a wide variety of regional projects for commercial, civic, educational, and residential clients.

One of the firm’s biggest commercial projects in Phoenix is the Bob & Renee Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain. The 14.5-acre work included programming, master planning, and design. The new facilities included in the design accommodates lodging, activity, and training. These new buildings will include structural elements and landscaping that follow sustainable standards and will ultimately be a symbol of pride for the Girl Scouts. The resulting design and building won ENR’s 2017 Southwest Project of the Year and Southwest Best Project. It was also recognized by the AIA Western Mountain Region and AIA Arizona Award in 2010. Another project was also a winner of an AIA Western Mountain Region Citation Award and the Arizona Architects Medal, the wondrous Life Science Building at Paradise Valley Community College integrates sustainable practices throughout, including two large, rain-harvesting towers that feed into an underground cistern, which collects water for all of the site’s desert-adapted vegetation. The metal-and-stone building is made up of a series of individual pods covered by a large roof and serves as an inspiring space for art classes and science labs.

Richärd Kennedy Architects

4450 N. 12th Street, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85014

Led by principal architect James A. Richärd and architect Stephen J. Kennedy, this highly acclaimed firm concentrates on sustainable design and is known for several amazing libraries and education facilities around the state. That collection includes the evocative Tree Ring Laboratory located at the principal’s alma mater, the University of Arizona in Tucson. The company was formerly known as Richärd + Bauer Architecture and opened in 1996. Along with many local, regional, and national awards for its design projects, Richärd Kennedy Architects has received an AIA National Honor Award and the Firm of the Year honor from AIA Arizona. The company’s work has been recognized by the Architectural Record, Contract Magazine, and the Architectural League of New York, which once called the firm an “emerging voice” in the field.

One of the firm’s biggest projects for the commercial sector was for the initial phase of the Park Central Development work. The project, located in Phoenix, was commissioned by the Holualoa Companies. It required the firm’s master planning, architecture, interior design, and programming expertise to deliver the 46-acre work. The firm focused on conceptualizing a dynamic, sustainable, and vibrant mixed-use facility designed to encourage a healthy work-life balance. The design was characterized by clarity and simplicity, and a deep connection between its indoor and outdoor environment through tempered landscape spaces. Another recent project designed by Richärd + Bauer is the Scottsdale Community College Library. The work highlighted the integration of state-of-the-art design in a massive remodel of a more than 40-year-old building into a technology-based library and community meeting space. The interior now has an elegant, modern, and refreshing look and feel that will inspire students to learn and create.


455 N. 3rd Street, Suite 250, Phoenix, AZ 85005

A global leader in environmental and sustainable design, the huge international architectural firm SmithGroupJJR has been a major contributor to the decades-long resurgence of Phoenix’s desert-urban style. As one of the most celebrated architectural firms around, SmithGroupJJR has won more than 400 design awards in recent years. The firm first opened its Phoenix office in 1978 and has since won acclaim for diverse projects such as the Chandler City Hall, Gateway Community College’s Integrated Education Building. The firm also earned the respect of the industry for its role as a design lead for the exterior, lighting, landscape, and sustainability work for the recent redevelopment of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 3. Brad Woodman leads the firm’s Phoenix office as vice president and director. The firm’s Phoenix office has been honored with numerous awards from AIA Arizona, including the APS Energy Award and the SRP Sustainable Award. The office has also received an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and a Pride Award from the International Interior Design Association.

Perhaps SmithGroupJJR’s most famous and recognizable structure in Phoenix is the high-rise, skyline-defining Freeport-MacMoran Center downtown. The landmark is one of the true beating hearts of the area’s urban renewal and is the headquarters of a global mining giant that greatly contributed to the development of Arizona’s mining industry. The modest glass-and-steel skyscraper has 26 floors and clocks in at 341 feet high. It is one of the tallest buildings in the state. It also has a luxury hotel, offices, and retail space. One of the many state-of-art features of this design is a “curtain wall system” that cuts down on heat gain while still providing views of the mountain ranges that surround Phoenix. SmithGroupJJR’s Phoenix office took another giant step into the future of sustainable design with DPR Construction’s regional headquarters. The firm also took on an old adult-entertainment shop in Phoenix, redesigning it into the first net-zero energy building in Arizona, and the largest net-zero energy building in the world.

Weddle Gilmore Architects

6916 E. Fifth Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Philip Weddle and Michael Gilmore, co-founders of Weddle Gilmore Architects Black Rock Studio in Scottsdale, have designed buildings all over the world; however, their imaginations seem to especially thrive when negotiating the relationship between Phoenix’s high urban style and challenging desert realities. Working on projects as diverse as desert-adapted trailhead structures in Phoenix and high-end residences and retail buildings in New York and Europe, Weddle Gilmore has been recognized by AIA Arizona for two major awards: Firm of the Year and Sustainable Firm of the Year. The firm has also won the AIA Western Mountain Region Honor Award three times. Weddle Gilmore’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and many other publications. Weddle, an AIA Fellow, founded the firm with Gilmore in 1999.

Weddle Gilmore Architects designed several commercial, private academic, and urban structures in the city. The firm led the architecture work for a unique student housing complex for a small private college in Prescott, Arizona, a mountain suburb of Phoenix. The school concentrates on environmental education, and the firm took this to heart when designing the 33,000-square-foot student village. Stylish rust-colored metal buildings surround a courtyard with rainwater harvesting, solar energy production, and even edible landscaping, turning this living space into a “living laboratory” of sustainable education. Weddle Gilmore was also commissioned to collaborate with other firms on a design for the Mesa City Center, a major project to build a multi-dimensional and green-centric urban core in the sprawling city that melds with Phoenix and other municipalities to create the Valley of the Sun. The project is meant to provide Mesa with a defining space for festivals, events, commercial activities, and daily outdoor urban life.