This has been a big week for Gould Evans Phoenix. On Friday, the nationally recognized design and planning firm earned a 2016 PRIDE (Professional Recognition of Interior Design Excellence) Award in the category of commercial space under 10,000 square feet. The awards were presented by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). And this week, Gould Evans Phoenix celebrates 20 years in the Valley. AZRE magazine caught up with Gould Evans Principal and Board Chair Trudi Hummel to talk about the milestone.

AZRE: What does 20 years in Phoenix mean to Gould Evans?

Trudi Hummel: In 1996, when Gould Evans’ Phoenix office was established, Arizona was coming out of a slow economic period and there was optimism for our economic future. Private real estate deals were fruitful and adding to the state, county and city coffers, so both private and public sector work was, well, if not plentiful, at least ample. It was a good time to start an architectural office. Through the next 20 years, we experienced and were affected by the economic ups and downs. We’ve achieved some fantastic and widely recognized successes, but we’ve also taken our hits on private work that didn’t go through and public work that never materialized. For Gould Evans, 20 years in Phoenix represents survival. It represents commitment. And it ultimately represents success. We have accomplished all of these things through the energy, creativity and determination of a very dedicated team whose synergy makes us all even better. After 20 years, I know that we are here for the long haul.

AZRE: How has Gould Evans evolved or changed over those 20 years?

Trudi Hummel: I began Gould Evans’ Phoenix office with a committed and talented partner, Jay Silverberg. We were consumed with getting the work and doing the work. And we did that well, becoming one of the most award-winning firms in Phoenix. Jay eventually moved on and now Krista Shepherd, a long-standing associate and contributor in the office, is my marvelous partner. She has been instrumental in continuing our design leadership and becoming more involved in the community, and has inspired the whole office to do so as well. As a firm we have taken the pause that the recession afforded us to be more thoughtful and strategic about who we are and what we want to do. We think we have found the right balance with the right mix of public and private clients, keeping in mind that it’s important to always be nimble and consider the potential of each project uniquely.

AZRE: What qualities do you have as an architect and as a leader that have helped Gould Evans hit the 20- year milestone?

Trudi Hummel: I have to admit, I thrive on focusing on the big picture. I can gather and listen to the facts, and I quickly see the patterns within the complexities. But as a team leader I feel that my ability to trust and empower those with whom I work is vital. That’s why Gould Evans has such a strong team of self- starters – people who aren’t afraid to speak up, step up and take risks, and know that they’ll always be supported.

AZRE: What makes your Phoenix office unique?

Trudi Hummel: We are truly multi-disciplinary. We’re not just about architecture and interior design, we include graphic designers, environmental designers, industrial designers, artists, sculptors, writers and more among our ranks. We have offered an entrepreneurial perch to grow a studio within our studio – Canary – which focuses on branding uses design as a strategy to solve any business decision. I look forward to those kinds of entrepreneurial offshoots continuing.

AZRE: Do you have a favorite Gould Evans story that you like to tell?

Trudi Hummel: Our favorite story is always the next story. We rarely sit idle and are always intrigued by solving the situation of the time. Perhaps our most fond memory is moving to the Warehouse District — a fresh step into the next iteration of our city and of Gould Evans’ work and values. We took things in stride and when the office space was not yet ready for move in, we divided the studio into three groups in order to house our teams effectively and continue to serve our projects without a hiccup. Our teams worked very closely together – literally in small spaces for three weeks. While one might think this would elicit complaints from our associates, it actually further strengthened us as a collective studio with shared experiences. We are most proud of our studio’s conviction and spirit to push forward with challenges when the going gets tough. This same spirit is found in our work for our clients.

AZRE: Which projects that you’ve worked on give you the most pride and why?

Trudi Hummel: Each project and each client is so special, so it’s really hard to single any out. Winning the Biodesign Institute for Arizona State University was a huge turning point. It was our largest and most complex project at the time. Conceived as a multi-disciplinary institute comprised of various grant-funded research programs, Arizona State University was depending on the project to enhance their standing as a Research One university and as a tool to recruit some of the most brilliant researchers in the country. We ended up designing the building before there were any users. Therefore, it had to be completely flexible as well as state-of-the-art and ready to receive the most complex laboratory set-ups. While we always design with sustainability in mind, it wasn’t until midway through the design of Building A that the University decided to seek LEED certification – eventually receiving Gold certification. On Building B, we had the LEED goal in mind from day one and were able to achieve Platinum certification, the first one in Arizona. We are proud to be a partner with Arizona State University yet again on one of their most complex and challenging projects – the reinvention of the Sun Devil Stadium.

We are also quite honored to work with the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community on the design and construction of their new Justice Center. This will be a beautiful integration of natural materials with the rich landscape they have in the community. We are most inspired by our clients when they want to make something better for their community, and we have enjoyed our collaboration with them to design a center that represents them and their values. We look forward to its opening at the end of this year.

AZRE: What are your goals for Gould Evans in Phoenix over the next decade?

Trudi Hummel: While we will continue to create solutions that transform their surroundings, engage their occupants, sustain their environment and support our clients’ missions, we have become and want to become even more a part of the redeveloping urban fabric. Our move to the Warehouse District was the best thing we could have done to that end. When we first moved here, we were intrigued by the surroundings, the history and imperfections as character. We see endless possibilities to connect people with our context. We embrace the complexities of our evolving city and our wheels are turning about what is the next appropriate iteration of our neighborhood. As development continues, we need to make sure that a meaningful and authentic sense of place is retained along with a meaningful and authentic culture.