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Employee News

Category: Announcements

DWL Architects Celebrates 75 Years

DWL Architects + Planners celebrated its 75th year by hosting a special event on March 1, 2024, paying tribute to the clients, consultants and contractors who played a significant role in the company’s achievements. This memorable occasion took place at Scottsdale Stadium’s new 1st Base VIP Deck, designed by DWL, during a Giants vs. Rangers Spring Training game.

Sandra Kukla (DWL president) said, “I am so proud to lead a design firm of DWL’s caliber and reputation. Every single team member carries such a strong commitment to our clients and communities. DWL’s 75-year legacy inspires us every day and I’m so eager to see what the next 75 years will hold.”

In recognition of its impressive past and promising future, DWL has introduced a new brand identity that honors its mid-century origins. In 2020, to enhance client service nationwide, DWL opened a second office in Columbus, OH, highlighting its commitment to existing regional clients and forging new partnerships.

As DWL has evolved, it has maintained their commitment to collaboration, stewardship and sustainability. The firm’s 75th anniversary was an opportune moment to reaffirm these values as it moves towards its 80th year. Over the decades, DWL has built a portfolio of enduring legacy projects like the ASU Hayden Library, Chase Bank @ 44th St. and Camelback, Mesa Arts Center, Light Rail extensions throughout the Valley, and the terminals at PHX Sky Harbor International Airport, multiple Valleywise Health Community Clinics and years of design work at Midwestern University.

The firm is currently working on significant projects such as the Queen Creek Recreation Center, Tempe Municipal Operations Campus, Sacramento Airport, The Ohio State University’s Marysville Veterinary Expansion and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport’s Terminal Modernization, which was just completed last month.

The celebration also served as a ‘thank you’ to Steve Rao, who retired after 34 years with DWL.

“The weather was beautiful for game day and the new deck was perfect for sharing DWL’s milestone with old friends. I’m extremely grateful for the decades of projects I had the pleasure of working on that helped shape our community. I relish the lifelong relationships I have made with co-workers, our trusted partners and valuable clients. Thanks to everyone who shared the special day with me,” said Steve Rao in response to the retirement celebration.

Rao, whose career was marked by significant contributions to aviation projects, served as the firm’s president from 2009 to 2020, passing the leadership to Sandra. His most notable projects included PSHIA Terminal 4 Concourses and Terminal 3 Modernization, as well as Cubs and Giants Spring Training Facilities.

About DWL Architects + Planners, Inc.

DWL Architects + Planners has become one of Arizona’s most respected locally-owned and operated architecture firms. DWL has a long history of creating ‘people places.’ Their buildings and urban spaces respond to function, human scale and emphasize user-friendly design solutions. They have been fortunate to participate in some of the most complex and architecturally significant projects recognized locally, nationally and internationally. Their market sectors include aviation, higher education, municipal/civic and healthcare. DWL launched an office in Ohio to better reach and serve their clients across the country.

DWL Architects + Planners is proud to announce two significant promotions!

Brad Swank has been promoted to Vice President and Principal. He has worked very hard to establish and grow our Ohio–now with 8 people. He has developed many great relationships with Midwestern University, private aviation clients, Nationwide Childrens Hospital, The Ohio State University and Detroit Airport. Brad started at DWL in 2007, moved back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio and then started the Ohio office in 2019.

In response to this promotion, Brad said, “I’m thankful to DWL’s leadership team for seeing the opportunities in Ohio and having the faith in me to open the office here to better help our established clients and create new relationships. I’m humbled and excited to continue the progress we have made. Our staff here are great and I’m so lucky to be able to lead them.”

In our Phoenix office, Megan Hawkins has been promoted to Associate. She joined DWL’s aviation team in 2015 and went right to work on the PHX Sky Harbor International Airport Terminal 3 Modernization project. She is quickly becoming one of our industry leaders in Code and ADA standards. Megan’s mentorship skills have been a true value to DWL’s Midwestern University team over recent years.

“DWL has given me a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the future of the firm and I am very excited to see where this path takes me,” remarked Megan upon the announcement.

DWL president, Sandra Kukla said, “I am so proud to announce these promotions. DWL is fortunate to have such great long-term staff in both the Phoenix and Ohio offices. Both Brad and Megan have proven to be tremendous leaders and innovative designers. Brad is a natural leader, with an easy-going personality – not to mention his great golf game. Megan has been a solid addition to the team from the first day she arrived and has always been a team player. Her spirit enlightens the DWL culture with her creative and fun personality. Everyone here at DWL is excited to continue delivering excellent projects for clients across the country alongside Brad and Megan.”


December 3, 2020 0 Comments

Pipeline Worldwide Competition

This year, DWL participated in Pipeline’s Worldwide Battle of the Boxes Competition to support healthcare workers in Uganda. This competition challenged three teams to convert a standard shipping container into practical residential units for healthcare workers in East Africa. Our team, #1Team4Uganda – DWL Architects + Planners, DMB, McCarthy Building Companies, East Valley Institute of Technology, Clearway Energy and HonorHealth – was honored and beyond grateful to have received four of the six awards.

🏆 Best Overall

🏆 Best in Design

🏆 Best in Sustainability

🏆 MVP Award for Curtis Ruhl from East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT)

Our container was be shipped overseas to Uganda, Africa where it will provide housing for six healthcare workers at a refugee settlement. A huge thank you to all team members involved for all your dedication and hard work to accomplish such a successful project.

Help us congratulate our newest Vice President – Athavan Rajasundaram


Phoenix, Ariz. – November 3, 2020 – DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. is pleased to announce the recent promotion of Athavan Rajasundaram AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CEA to Vice President. He has been a tremendous mentor to junior team members who rely on his expertise in sustainable solutions and healthcare design. His most recent work for Valleywise Health on several projects throughout the Valley and another private surgical center project have solidified DWL’s leadership in the healthcare design community. Congratulations Athavan!


Help us congratulate our newest Vice President – Mary Ann Modzelewski


Phoenix, Ariz. – November 3, 2020 – DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. is pleased to announce the recent promotion of Mary Ann Modzelewski AIA, LEED AP BD+C to Vice President. Mary Ann is a highly accomplished architect with proven design and leadership among the Native American Communities in Arizona, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and other government sector clients. We are honored to have someone with such a bright smile and commitment to collaboration on our team. Her promotion demonstrates the firm’s ongoing dedication to exceptional service and innovative design. Congratulations, Mary Ann!


Help us congratulate our newest Associate – Carrie Sheldon


Phoenix, Ariz. – October 12, 2020 – DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. is pleased to announce the recent promotion of Carrie Sheldon, RA, NCARB to Associate. Her promotion demonstrates the firm’s ongoing commitment to exceptional service and leadership in architectural design. Her commitment to our healthcare sector has been paramount to the firm’s success.



Airport Improvement Magazine

Check out our most recent featured project – PHX Terminal 3 Modernization – in !






March 9, 2020 0 Comments

DWL Announces Peaceful Passing of Former President Carleton VanDeman

DWL Architects + Planners is saddened to announce the peaceful passing of our former president Carleton VanDeman on the morning of March 3, 2020 at the age of 81. He is survived by his wife Mary and two daughters.

Carl started with Drover Welch & Lindlan (former firm name) after he graduated from Kansas State University in 1965. At DWL, he worked his way to principal and later firm president after James F. Lindlan retired.

Carl was a very down-to-earth, humble and approachable colleague and friend. His professional, technical and ethical approach to architecture has left an enduring impression on DWL’s legacy, having designed such iconic buildings as Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4, Industrial Commission of Arizona and ASU’s Noble Science Library. Carl’s project accomplishments remain as a reminder of his talent and leadership.

DWL Architect has been honored by Carl’s contribution as designer, colleague, president and friend. He was truly a blessing in our lives and will be missed.

DWL Names New President


DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. is pleased to announce that its board of directors has appointed Sandra Kukla, AIA, as President of the firm. Kukla succeeds Steve Rao, who will remain with the firm as Executive Vice President.

“It is a good feeling to know that DWL is in capable hands. I am a firm believer that the best way to ensure success is to have someone who is smarter and more talented take the reins,” said Rao.

After 30 years with DWL and 11 years serving as the firm’s president, Steve is proud to transition leadership to the next generation, saying, “Sandra is passionate, talented, dedicated and always looking for a way to improve things, whether it be project designs or office amenities for our staff. The future for DWL is bright.”

DWL is one of the oldest architecture firms in the region, recently celebrating their 70th Anniversary. They have a long history of partnering with many exceptional clients including Midwestern University, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Valleywise Health, Tucson International Airport, John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Valley Metro, Arizona Indian communities, ASU, NAU, Scottsdale Airport, several airlines, and the Cities of Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Sandra is eager to support all DWL’s long-term and newer clients within the firm’s various market sectors.

Throughout her 20 years at the firm, Sandra has led several significant projects such as the recently completed Terminal 3 Modernization at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and projects at LAX, Detroit Metro and Sacramento International Airports. “I have been one of those fortunate people that gets to do what I love – designing airport facilities. It’s a building type that touches so many people in our community. I am proud to lead teams of diverse perspectives in order to create the best possible architecture,” said Kukla. With nearly 50 long-time staff with an average 16-year tenure at DWL, Sandra says, “Our staff is absolutely amazing – dedicated, experienced and caring. We have been and will continue to be a truly collaborative design firm.”

Sandra grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where her interest in aviation began with her help in building the family’s aerobatic biplane. She moved to the Southwest to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of New Mexico. Since joining the company in 1999, Sandra spearheaded operational efficiencies and firm culture, becoming DWL’s first female Vice President. She was also instrumental in establishing the firm’s presence in the Midwest and Southeast, recently celebrating their new Columbus office.

Having served on the board of the Arizona Airports Association (AzAA), Sandra received the President’s Award twice, and was recognized as Corporate Member of the Year at the 2018 AzAA Spring Conference for her continued initiative and involvement in the organization. She also serves as a volunteer in various community and professional organizations, such as the AIA’s Women’s Principal Group (WPG), Support Sky Harbor and the Southwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE). Her architectural career is balanced with a wonderful, supportive family – her husband, Rob, and son, Hadley.

Sandra says, “I am so thankful for the support I received from past presidents who recognized my potential and championed my growth in the firm. I am proud to be President of a firm with such a rich history and look forward to an even stronger future.”

About DWL Architects + Planners, Inc.
DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. brings expertise and strategies from a range of industries including aviation, higher education, community infrastructure and healthcare. They have a legacy of creating people places within communities – and since 1949, when the firm planted its roots in Phoenix as Weaver & Drover, DWL Architects has recognizably shaped the western region’s urban fabric. Led by seven principals, DWL’s team of 50 employees, focuses on high-performance design with expert knowledge – forging a synergy of design and its environment.

DWL team members are not just designers and architects to their clients, they are partners and trusted advisors. For seven decades, DWL Architects has been leading the industry with their approach to collaborative design. They are champions of an integrated team – coupling technical and creative visionaries with different perspectives to bolster and strengthen their design solutions.


Help us congratulate our newest Associate – Michael Voorheis


Phoenix, Ariz. – February 12, 2020 – DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. is pleased to announce the recent promotion of Michael Voorheis, AIA, LEED AP BD+C to Associate. His promotion demonstrates the firm’s ongoing commitment to exceptional service and leadership in architectural design. His commitment to our aviation sector clients and management of our QA/QC protocols has been paramount to the firms success.

About DWL Architects + Planners, Inc.

Founded in 1949, DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. is one of the region’s premier architecture firms, bringing expertise and strategies from a range of industries such as aviation, higher education, civic, and healthcare. Since 1949, DWL Architects has drawn from their design experience to create welcoming environments that respond to function, form, and innovation. DWL Architects’ work has been consistently recognized locally, nationally, and internationally. For more information:


December 16, 2019 0 Comments

DWL Establishes Regional Office, Ohio

DUBLIN, Ohio – DWL Architects + Planners, Inc. announces their expansion to a new office in Dublin, OH. This new location strengthens the DWL regional presence and provides the opportunity to pursue, support and deliver more projects in the midwestern region. The location is ideal for its central position within Ohio – close to current clients like John Glen Columbus International Airport, Detroit Metro Airport and Midwestern University, and just an hour’s flight from Chicago Metro.

“Our foundation is built on relationships. We are excited to continue the relationships we have established with leaders in many industries throughout the Midwest, as well as develop new relationship with different clients in Ohio and beyond its borders,” said Steve Rao, DWL President.

Dublin is within the regional technology hub and is recognized as the “best connected community in Central Ohio.” The location positions DWL as a neighbor to major educational institutions such as Ohio State University, Ohio University and Wright State University. This new office is DWL’s second official, full-service office and will be led by Brad Swank.

Brad grew up in the suburbs of Columbus and graduated from The Ohio State University. After completing his Masters of Architecture he joined the DWL team in 2007. He later returned to Ohio to graduate again with an MBA and an interest in firm leadership. This year, DWL is proud to recapture his talent, enthusiasm, leadership and passion for Ohio as he takes on management of this expansion.

“I’m very excited to see the Dublin office open. It demonstrates DWL’s commitment to growth and expansion,” commented Brad Swank, Regional Director. “At DWL, we believe that successfully providing full-service planning and design solutions for our clients requires more than just knowledge. Our commitment to excellence, combined with our mission to deliver outstanding architecture, has earned our company the excellent reputation it holds today.”

Over the past 70 years, DWL has become one of the nation’s most dynamic and respected architecture firms thanks to our dedicated individuals who share a common vision to provide clients the best service and achieve distinctive, successful projects.

“I rejoined DWL because of their commitment to their clients. DWL’s collaborative designs push the parameters to exceed every possible expectation. DWL also is a place for me to blend high performance design with expert knowledge,” Brad…

Through decades of experience, DWL has grown to understand all facets of architecture. Their craft provides clients with a first-class, cohesive design. Responding to function first, the firm balances technical expertise with innovative design.

“We believe what sets us apart: we’re resolutely committed to helping our clients achieve their goals. Their success is our success. Trusted Legacy. Responsive Design. Exceptional Service,” said Rao. “Our staff is our key strength. We encourage and support our team in achieving their goals to become better architects. Because of our team’s broad expertise, we have been fortunate to participate in some of the most complex and architecturally significant projects recognized locally, nationally and internationally. Our culture enables our staff to align their talents with their passions – which is what makes Brad Swank the ideal leader for our Ohio expansion.”

August 19, 2019 0 Comments

2019 Canstruction – PokéStop Hunger

This past weekend DWL Architects participated in this year’s Phoenix Canstruction with a Pokémon GO themed structure! You can vote for this structure under the People’s Choice category at the link below! Voting ends Wednesday!

And thank you to our team and sponsors who made this possible.

2019 Phoenix Canstruction Team:

DWL Architects + Planners, Inc.
Caruso Turley Scott Inc. Structural Engineers
Sundt Construction, Inc. 
Jensen Hughes
Coreslab Structures


Sundt Construction
Caruso Turley Scott
Arcadia, Inc.
Premier Engineering Corp.
Hunt/Austin Aviation Builders
LSW Engineers
Western States Fire Protection Co.
Republic Bank of Arizona
James Cooke & Hobson
Fry’s Food Stores 
Gannett Fleming
PRI Graphics

Canstruction® is an international competition and exhibition of creatively designed structures built entirely of canned food. After the event, all food is donated to support St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.


April 10, 2019 0 Comments

7th Annual Run the Runway

DWL attended this year’s 7th annual Run The Runway located at our recently completed project–Scottsdale Airport. Many members of our team, along with their families ran and walked directly on the airfield runway in the 10k-5k-kid dash to support Playworks Arizona and Scottsdale Airport.

All race proceeds benefited Playworks Arizona a nonprofit organization encouraging kids to stay active and build valuable life skills through play.



The Scottsdale Airport Redevelopment project was designed by DWL with Mead & Hunt and JE Dunn Construction. The project includes a new 23, 800 SF Aviation Business Center with restaurant and bar, multi-use conference space and two 30,000 SF Executive Hangars. The project is built to LEED Gold standards and is pending certification.


April 1, 2019 0 Comments

What an incredible night!

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate DWL’s 70th anniversary. From plane rides to our new logo reveal it truly was a spectacular night!


March 13, 2019 0 Comments

Here are three fun facts about DWL as we celebrate our upcoming 70th Anniversary!

1.) DWL was founded in 1949

2.) DWL was first known and established as Weaver & Drover

3.) We began operation from a garage studio (pictured below)

(Photo from left to right: Dick Drover, Herman Jacobi, & Frederick Weaver)

#7decadesofdesign #dwlcelebrates70years #dwlarchitects


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