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New zoo exhibits? Another breakthrough in healthcare design? Stay on top of all the exciting recent news and events surrounding WDM Architects! Watch this space for the latest blogs by our architects, announcements for new projects, and even get to know our team with employee spotlights. Get the big picture by discovering our unique design philosophies and learn what makes WDM tick. Dig deeper — you just might like what you find.

News Articles

Space Planning – What is it and Why is it Important?

  As architects and planners, our job is to create and transform spaces to tell our client’s story and promote their vision with innovative design solutions. Each client and their needs differ. The space created should symbolize the heart of the organization and afford the inhabitants both ... READ MORE

Dockum Apothecary Speakeasy

Take me back down to places you been to, wonderin’ what your gonna find; A darkened room in the corner basement, the situation must be right; Just a few good friends and a bottle of wine, we’re gonna get it on right tonight! (inspiration from The Guess Who, “New Mother Nature”) These words ... READ MORE

Meet Our New Lead Interior Designer

We are happy to welcome Interior designer, Lisa Schroeder, back to WDM after being away for several years. Many of you may be familiar with her work on projects such as the Andover Public Library, Wichita Area Technical College South Campus, Derby Public Works and First Mennonite Brethren ... READ MORE

Cardboard Box Theory

Early in my zoo design career, I visited a fairly large zoo in a major mid-west metropolitan area with my wife and small children as part of our family vacation. Before we had seen half the zoo, my kids were tired, bored and cranky. All the while, I was bound and determined to see everything ... READ MORE

Meet Our New Marketing Coordinator

Taylor made her intentions at WDM known immediately. Only her fourth day with us, she arrived early and claimed the unmarked and unofficial (but widely known) parking space of the firm president. Bold move, Taylor! The newest member of our team, Taylor Bott, is our marketing coordinator. Her ... READ MORE

A New Home for Old Memories

Gradually hypnotized by festive tones pumping from the organ, I can taste butter and salt on my lips. The air is riddled with giggles and laughs as my kids yell ‘please daddy just one more ride!’ and the cares of the world are forgotten if only for a moment as this magnificent herd delightfully ... READ MORE

Collaboration and Lasting Value

  Collaboration: The process of two or more people or organizations working together to realize or achieve something successfully. We are always looking for ways to help our clients achieve the highest level of success possible in their building design projects. Sometimes this is best ... READ MORE

Coming Full Circle

I often take a walk in the middle of the day. Helps me to clear my mind, relax and refocus. I believe that getting out and away from my desk for twenty minutes or so makes me considerably more productive the rest of the day. It allows my mind to come full circle and begin […] READ MORE

Nature, Architecture, & Happiness

The best architectural spaces are those that have found an interesting way of relating to nature; whether that is purposely contrasting, abstractly imitating or gracefully merging with nature. The perception of users, consciously or unconsciously, is largely linked to a space’s relationship ... READ MORE

Zoos, the Awe Factor, and Conservation

Have you ever seen a polar bear dive underwater and place a giant paw against the glass? Have you ever watched a chimpanzee swing through the air with amazing agility or seen a rhinoceros run at high speed? Maybe you’ve visited the WDM project at the Phoenix Zoo and experienced the deep gaze of ... READ MORE

The Evolving Office – Open Space Architecture

Office space architecture has evolved dramatically over the decades. The norm is no longer four white walls packed with cubes and copiers. Established and contemporary employers alike have taken heed of this trend. The benefits of an architecturally appealing office space – obtaining and ... READ MORE

So You’ve Got an Old Building – The Importance of Finding Qualified Historic Preservation Architects

You love the charm and mystique of old buildings. Next thing you know, you find yourself signing the contract on your very own historic building, tucked into the cozy confines of downtown in a fantastic location with plenty of space. Perfect. But what do you do now? Eventually the new-building ... READ MORE

Renovation as a Sustainable Solution

When you think “green” or “sustainable,” what pops into your head? Do you imagine a beautiful new building, outfitted with all of today’s newest technology? Do you think of buzzwords like photovoltaics and daylighting? Or maybe you think of simplifying with materials like rammed earth. Would ... READ MORE

Office Space Planning – 7 Pieces of Bad Advice and How to Avoid Them

  If you’re looking to renovate, move, downsize or expand your office, there’s a lot to consider. It isn’t just about furniture and paint, though these are important. It’s about thinking long-term – how your business could grow and adapting to the changes of your industry. So for the sake ... READ MORE

Choosing the Proper Treatment for a Historic Building

Restoring history for future generations is important. Classic architecture is the perfect opportunity to do just that. But maintaining or restoring a historic building takes a lot of effort and forethought. But before you start this important journey, you’ll have to give it plenty of thought ... READ MORE

Friendly Gables Building

Here’s a story from Nick Staib, landscape architect and Jason Wenzel, architect, at WDM Architects… The Friendly Gables building used to be a girls’ home. We had a contract to demo the structure and build a parking lot. Simple enough, except that the county employees kept ... READ MORE

Union National Bank – A Different Take

Here’s a story from David Stauth, an architect at WDM Architects… Sometimes architectural archaeology is more than just discovering long hidden design features or artifacts, sometimes it’s rediscovering the history of the people who built the building, or who worked in or used it. ... READ MORE

The Evolving Workplace – Office Space Planning

Stark offices filled with cubicles and tired faces are a thing of the past. Employers and businesses that want to retain talent and maintain relationships with clients need to utilize their office space as a direct demonstration of where they’re headed. And even more than branding, a bright and ... READ MORE

Union National Bank / Ambassador Hotel

Here’s a story from Brenda Zickuhr, an interior designer at WDM… When WDM was renovating the 14-story Union National Bank building at the corner of Douglas and Broadway to become the Ambassador Hotel, we were disappointed that almost none of the building’s original architectural ... READ MORE

Henry’s Department Store

Here’s a story from David Stauth, an architect at WDM… WDM did a preliminary review of the Henry’s Department store building at Broadway and William. I was walking around with the building’s owner in the basement, and in a far back corner there was a small room. Inside the room were ... READ MORE

It’s a Mystery…

Here’s a story from Scott Bixler, a former WDM employee… Scott is locally known for his creative art sculptures that he puts together using found and repurposed objects. He occasionally finds old architectural oddities that clients let him have that end up in his work. He also has a ... READ MORE

Lincoln Elementary – Architectural Archaeology Series

Here’s a story from Angi Womeldorff, an interior designer here at WDM… A few months ago I went to do a site visit at Lincoln Elementary, which is being renovated into the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County. While touring the site we came across two very unique art deco column ... READ MORE

Sundstrom Building – Architectural Archaeology

Any child who has ever seen the movie Jurassic Park usually believes for the next few months that they will be an archeologist when they grow up. Over time, dreams of being an archeologist, (or an astronaut, sports star, or race car driver) go away and other careers become reality. I was no ... READ MORE

Let the Sun Shine In!

Natural daylighting can save money, energy and improve worker productivity Sustainable practices just make sense. They’re generally safer, healthier and save money when implemented as part of an integrated design approach. So it’s no surprise we’re constantly looking to optimize the design of ... READ MORE

It’s the Isle of the Tiger, It’s the Thrill of the Site

There’s a new growl emanating from the Arizona’s Valley of the Sun. WDM Architect’s latest tiger exhibit, Isle of the Tiger, opened November 6th at the Phoenix Zoo. The exhibit is the final element of the zoo’s A World Class Zoo For A World Class City capital campaign, which added three ... READ MORE

Reflections on Senior Living Architecture

THE FUTURE WILL BE… WHAT? (Part 2 of 2) Recently, Dan Hutson, Vice President of Communications & Marketing for the be.group, posted a comment on Senior Housing Forum, “5 Disruptive Marketing Takeaways From SMASH,” October 21, 2015, which states:   “… a marketing colleague I ... READ MORE

WDM celebrates 35 events over 35 years

Sunday, marked our 35th year as a practice. Where has the time gone? When Dan Wilson and Wes Darnell began the practice on November 1, 1980, they wanted to work shoulder-to-shoulder with clients and have long-standing business relationships. That core belief is at the heart of our practice even ... READ MORE

Reflections on Senior Living Architecture

THE FUTURE IS ALMOST NOW (Part 1 of 2) When will the Baby Boomer generation tidal wave hit the senior living market is a statistic that is now deeply embedded in all senior living operators’ minds.  An important question is what will the Boomers’ impact be?  Many Boomers (those born between ... READ MORE

A Cool Day in the Sun
Reflections from a Solar Decathlete

The 7th biennial Solar Decathlon opens to the public today in Irvine, Calif. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, this competition challenges university students to design and build a completely solar powered house. The houses are put through a battery of tests and challenges to see ... READ MORE

Here’s to 100 years…

To celebrate its 100th birthday last Saturday, Fidelity Bank opened the doors to Carnegie Library for a public open house. Whether you’re a person or a building, celebrating 100 is a really big deal. It’s even more special when the one being revered is an icon of your community.     ... READ MORE

Going Beyond the Plants
What a Landscape Architect Really Does

I am a landscape architect. A better name for me and my colleagues perhaps would be “Architects of the Land.” Yes, I know about plants, but I also know about irrigation systems, how to design an outdoor fountain and how to design that pergola to withstand the outdoor elements .   Landscape ... READ MORE

International Orangutan Day:
Celebrating the “People of the Forest”

  I’m an unabashed tree hugger. But today is a day dedicated to one of the most extreme tree huggers of them all – the orangutan – because today is International Orangutan Day. This great ape shares 98 percent of our DNA and is unquestionably one of the most intelligent animals ... READ MORE

Trending Now: Rammed Earth Makes Resurgence

What do the Great Wall of China, the Alhambra in Spain and Earthships in New Mexico have in common? It’s called rammed earth. It’s a construction method that, in a most basic sense, uses hard-packed dirt to create both interior elements and exterior walls of buildings. Today’s approach uses a ... READ MORE

Congratulations on your Retirement, Wes!

Everybody at WDM, along with family and friends gathered this past Friday evening to wish our founder and friend Wes Darnell good luck in the next chapter of his life … retirement. It was a blessed evening with many good laughs and a few tears shed along the way. We will miss Wes being in ... READ MORE

How Zoo Animals Find New Homes

Suka and Sakari, the sibling twin polar bears at the newly opened Artic Passage exhibit at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wis. have been the talk of the town. Active, playful, and a lot of fun to watch, these bears have been drawing crowds since the exhibit opened in May. They dig in the sand, ... READ MORE

Polar Bears Warm to New Arctic Passage

Climate change is melting polar ice, making it harder for bears to find food, forcing them to swim further from ice flow to ice flow to hunt. With less ice and more open water, seals have more places to come of up for air, and it’s becoming more difficult for the bears to continue to […] READ MORE

Our founder, Wes Darnell, announces his retirement

We are announcing today that one of our founders, Wes Darnell, AIA, will be retiring from the practice. His last day will be July 31. Darnell’s decision will bring to a close a remarkable 45-year architectural career, the last 35 with the firm he co-founded in 1980. Said our President Matt ... READ MORE

Exciting Changes For WDM Architects In 2015

Author and leadership guru John Maxwell says you need to “look back to plan forward.” At WDM, we are doing just that. And, being just six weeks into a new year, we have a big announcement to make. Founders Wes Darnell and Dan Wilson, along with principals Les Mock and John Brewer have ... READ MORE

K-State Architectural Student Visit

On November 6th, WDM Architects was pleased to host area high school students interested in learning about a career in the architecture and design field. Tim de Noble, Dean of the College of Architecture Planning and Design at Kansas State University, Susan Lannou, Director of Student ... READ MORE

Storytelling…an Essential for Zoos

“….to provide unique experiences that connect people with nature and inspire conservation of the natural world.” If you were to look at the mission statement of the over 220 AZA accredited zoos and aquariums the above statement or some derivative of it would likely be present.  That is because ... READ MORE

Our Zoo Studio Team — WDM Architects

  Being a lone wolf is not a good thing if you are zoo architect. No, in fact, we’ve found after 25 years of consulting, our best designs happen when we work like a wolf pack, each individual bringing their own skills to benefit the overall team.  At WDM Architects, our “pack” looks to the ... READ MORE

Investing in Historic Architecture Pays Dividends

  Old buildings have charm and character. But, did you know that it is often a significantly better return on investment to preserve a downtown historic architecture rather demolishing? At last week’s Kansas Preservation Society conference in Emporia, Casey Woods, the Executive Director ... READ MORE

WSU OneStop Shop

Wichita State University just unveiled their new OneStop, where students can go to connect with campus support staff about a variety of topics: Academic Advising, Financial Aid and Records & Registration. WDM’s interior design staff updated the space to create an inviting atmosphere ... READ MORE

A New Place to “Think, Make and Do” – Experiential Engineering Building on the new WSU Innovation Campus

Reading a book and sitting through hours of professorial babble can only teach a young engineer or entrepreneur so much. But, apply those book smarts to real-world problems and you’ve got something cooking. Take it a step further. Apply those real-world problems with the support of private ... READ MORE

In The News – Wes Darnell on Historical Restoration

Recently, WDM Architect’s very own founding member, Wes Darnell was featured in an article from the Topeka Capital-Journal Online. Below you can read a snippet that features Wes speaking about historical restoration. Click here to read the entire article on the Topeka Capital-Journal ... READ MORE

Going Grey for 96 Elephants

WDM Architects went “grey” for World Elephant Day & 96 Elephants on August 12th. This is a global awareness campaign that helps 96 Elephants Organization organize support to urge legislators around the world to ban ivory sales and help protect these magnificent animals. You can ... READ MORE

Kansas Architecture Firm Take On The Future Of Office Design

Most people don’t think too much about their office furniture. “If it’s functional, it’s working” is often the attitude. But, office furniture manufacturers and dealers feel differently. They spend millions each year researching new ways to respond to the dynamic needs and interests of today’s ... READ MORE

Sex in the Zoo? How Zoo Architects Design Propagation Facilities

When you visit your local zoo, you will see animals in habitats that mimic their natural environment. But, what you will not see are the behind-the-scene areas created for species preservation and propagation. To sustain a species in captivity (and in some cases release species back into the ... READ MORE

Zoo Adaptations for the Future

The year is 2114. Our planet’s biodiversity had reached critically low levels within the last 30 years thanks to rampant overexploitation of resources. Resources used to feed, house, and entertain our non-sustainable population growth and consumption. Resources that had dwindled enough to ... READ MORE

Green Buildings Don’t Have to Cost More

It has become a misnomer in recent years that “green” buildings have to cost more than typical buildings.  Obviously, the bottom line is what we are all talking about. Do you pay less now, or less later?  Is it worth it to save more in the upfront initial construction cost?  Or, is it the cost ... READ MORE

In The News – Kearney Regional Medical Center

More Care. Less Cost. Kearney Regional Medical Center Says by Being Efficient, Physician Driven, Costs for Care Will Decrease KEARNEY — Kearney Regional Medical Center aims to be more efficient, less expensive and more physician driven, and that should translate into lower-cost medical care, ... READ MORE

WDM Architects to Design New WSU Project

Wichita State selects WDM Architects team for first Innovation Campus building Wichita State University has selected the WDM Architects team to provide architectural and engineering services for the first of five planned buildings on the  proposed new Innovation Campus. The new 160,000 square ... READ MORE

LEED Silver Certification for Grizzly Ridge

Akron Zoo’s Grizzly Ridge Exhibit Achieves LEED Silver Certification Akron, OH – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded the Akron Zoo’s Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, reinforcing the zoo’s ... READ MORE

WDM Architects are Ranked in the Top 100 Healthcare Design Firms

For the eighth consecutive year, Wichita-based WDM Architects is ranked in the Top 100 design firms in Modern Healthcare’s 2013 Construction & Design Survey. The national survey, which ranks architectural firms by dollar volume of healthcare work for that calendar year, slates WDM at ... READ MORE

Healthcare Architects and the Rapid Change in MOB Design

The graying of America and the on going implementation of the Affordable Care Act has placed a giant bulls-eye on healthcare facilities. The industry is evolving …rapidly. We, as healthcare architects, must work even closer with providers to develop proactive solutions that allow them to better ... READ MORE

Our Zoo Design Architects Conquer the Master Plan Madness

We are coming to the end of another March Madness and the best college basketball teams will be fighting it out for the championship. A lot has been made of the teamwork and chemistry of these teams, and how that comes together to create excellence. Watching these talented teams work together ... READ MORE

“96 Elephants”

It seems hard to imagine but there is a very real possibility that we could see elephants vanish in a few years. Why? Despite conservation efforts, almost 100 elephants a day are being killed. To put it in perspective, imagine standing every day of a year on a street corner and watching 100 ... READ MORE

Kearney Regional Medical Center

  WDM offers its congratulations to the KRMC Physicians, staff, development team and our consultant team who hung in there over the last 5-plus years making this a reality.  Through all the twists and turns and setbacks along the way; you stayed focused on your mission and today you can ... READ MORE

Ambassador Hotel wins 2014 Award of Honor from AGI

WDM Architects was recently recognized for our part on the team that converted the historic 14-story Union National Bank building in downtown Wichita into an upscale boutique hotel. Other recognized team members were Key Construction and the Ambassador Hotel Group. The team was recognized by ... READ MORE

Assisted Living Care Facility Expansion

PRESS RELEASE: NEW ASSISTED LIVING & MEMORY CARE RESIDENCE PLANNED FOR FORT WORTH FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Legend Senior Living today announced plans to construct a free-standing assisted living and memory care residence in Fort Worth. Legend Assisted Living & Memory Care will be located at ... READ MORE

Landscapes as Art

Landscapes are not often thought of as “Art,” but innovative design can turn natural elements into a sublime masterpiece of beauty. It can also highlight manmade art. There are many ways to accomplish this: Moving Heaven…And Earth… When you design with the earth, it goes beyond grading a site ... READ MORE

We’ve been nominated! Only a few days to vote!

Click Here to Vote: http://www.awwwards.com/best-websites/wdm-architects?subsection=all   The launch of our new website just got more exciting with a nomination on Awwwards.com, a global website award community sharing a passion for great design and coding. But we need your help to win. If ... READ MORE

Intrust Bank Arena Feature Article

  Published September/October Issue in Architecture Leaders Today Story by Joel Cornell Intrust Bank Arena Photos by Michael Spillers Fidelity Carnegie Library Photos by Steve Swallwell except where noted Though the firm works in many sectors all around the United States, WDM Architects ... READ MORE

Interior Design

“You can’t always judge a book by it’s cover.” Well, the same adage can be applied to Architecture; there is much more to a building on its inside (and how people working within it) that truly reflects culture and personality. Interior Design marries form and function to ... READ MORE

Sweet Deal: Tax Credits trigger Historic Renovations

It used to be easier to just always “build new. It was cheaper and fewer headaches than trying to rehab. But, like a Blackberry phone, that was sooo yesterday. Two things have changed that:” Federal and State legislation has created historic tax credit incentives for rehabilitating ... READ MORE

The History of WDM Architects

We started our practice 35 years ago with a goal to do more in the way of personal service and collaboration with local design clients. Now, our reach has expanded beyond the region to tackle larger issues that affect society as a whole: stewardship of the environment, conservation of wildlife, ... READ MORE

Spotlight: Les Mock, Healthcare Studio Leader

The passion for helping others comes from an inherent desire to do good, which is why Healthcare Architecture is the perfect outlet for the creativity and vision of Les Mock, WDM Principal and Healthcare Studio Leader. With his optimistic and positive outlook on life and his good-natured humor, ... READ MORE

Elephant-sized Architectural Design Expertise

Lions may be “Kings of the Jungle,” but when it comes to “King of the Zoos” elephants are the animals people want to see most. Big. Impressive. It’s hard not to be impressed by them. Elephants also command a lot of real estate. But, these largest of land mammals are also one of the hardest […] READ MORE

Design on the Wild Side

“Did you say you are a zoo architect? That’s cool!” I get that a lot after an introduction. And inevitably, that person will ask if it is “fun.” It is. But there’s much more that goes into the thinking, planning and design of zoos than most people think. The biggest misconception regarding zoo ... READ MORE

Borrowed landscape can save a budget

Importing natural vegetation often isn’t practical for a project. And it sure isn’t a sustainable practice either. When it comes to zoos and landscape architecture, we often use a technique called Borrowed Landscaping. Originally developed in Far East Asia, it’s a technique ... READ MORE