2023 Architects

Pictured: (left to right) Mike Shively, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP; Raquel Guzman Geara, AIA; Todd Palmer, AIA, NCARB; Michael Gibbs, NCARB; Rebecca Barry, AIA, NCARB; Zachary Verhulst, AIA, NCARB, NOMA | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC


The field of architecture is a landscape full of juxtapositions. It is considered at times both art and science, product and process, creative and technical, and concrete and abstract. It can tell a story of the individual and the collective, serve a functional purpose and as stylistic expression, and offer a snapshot into shifting dynamics of the human condition. Over the centuries, it has left landmarks that have highlighted the socio-cultural values held by different peoples and different civilizations; or remnants weathered by time and manmade conflicts that have hinted at the forgotten, guarded, or obscured beliefs and traditions that came before. 

It can serve as a record of innovation and of ruin, in which lessons of the past can be viewed as teacher, critique, and muse to envision what is possible for the future of the profession. It is rich and faceted, simple in the sense that it can meet basic needs as a place of shelter and belonging; and complex in that it can capture the loftiest ambitions the human mind can conjure as beautiful, artistic expressions of linguistic, religious, culinary, and funerary practices in built form. 

Today, architecture both invites and tasks the practitioner to build on what has come before, using history as a reference to reach toward a built landscape that is more inclusive, more sustainable, and more responsive to the dynamic ecological, economical, social, and cultural challenges of the 21st century. And in this 2023 edition, Great Lakes By Design Magazine once again had the opportunity to speak with some of the practicing architects in the region to learn more about their story, their passion for the field, and the challenges and opportunities that inspire them. 



Zachary Verhulst, AIA, NCARB, NOMA

Pure Architects | Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan


Pictured: Zachary Verhulst, AIA, NCARB, NOMA | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC

When Zachary Verhulst, AIA, NCARB, NOMA, founded Pure Architects in 2020, it was with a powerful purpose to create spaces and places that uplift communities, positively impact the environment, and inspire people through inclusive and healthy design. To Verhulst, architecture is a vehicle and a platform in which to do good in the world, and a formal route of advocacy that can have a tangible effect across the socio-cultural, built, and natural landscape. Sustainability is not an afterthought, but rather a foundational principle, and relationships are deeply rooted and purposefully driven. And each project is an opportunity for change and a chance to contribute to a just and equitable world for the future, where people and culture are at the heart of every design. (Read more)










Todd Palmer, AIA, NCARB

AMDG Architects | Grand Rapids, Michigan


Pictured: Todd Palmer, AIA, NCARB | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC

Todd Palmer, AIA, NCARB, Senior Architect and Commercial Studio Leader at AMDG Architects of Grand Rapids, Michigan, finds delight in working with clients in the earliest design phases and in the ability to carry their vision through completion. It is in the continuity of the process, the relationships built with those clients, and the challenge of finding creative solutions to complex programs that inspire him as an architect. The ability to participate throughout different phases, wearing multiple hats along the way, and ensuring the final solution remains true to the history of those early design decisions—and in the witnessing of people use and engage with those spaces—that he finds so rewarding about the profession.(Read more)










Mike Shively, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

En Masse | Chicago, Illinois


Pictured: Mike Shively, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC

To Mike Shively, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, whose mission in life is to make life better through architecture, design is a personal exploration. But it is less about putting his own stamp or personal architectural mark on the work he co-creates with his studio team and clients, and more about the process and the relationships fostered along the way to deliver intricately layered, high-performance spaces that bring true peace and joy to people. It is an exploration that emphasizes meeting people where they are, understanding how they live, and slowing down the pace of daily life to build a community around each project to create inspired spaces that clearly articulate a client’s vision, intuitively meet their needs, and respond to its larger context. (Read more)










Raquel Guzman Geara, AIA

SmithGroup | Chicago, Illinois


Pictured: Raquel Guzman Geara, AIA | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC

The pursuit of happiness has become a familiar phrase for many. Yet, its philosophical roots took hold long before it became embedded into documents and local vernacular. For Raquel Guzman Geara, AIA, that pursuit in terms of architecture can help facilitate and enhance the human experience. When rooted in key principles like empathy, inclusivity, and delight, architecture has the ability to not only shape daily life, but also to support people on their individual and collective paths toward happiness and well-being. (Read more)












Michael Gibbs, NCARB

Visbeen Architects Inc. | Grand Rapids, Michigan


Pictured: Michael Gibbs, NCARB | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC

Michael Gibbs, NCARB, architect at Visbeen Architects Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sees the humanity in architecture. For him, it is in the cities, the structures, and the spaces that have been built, rising, falling, and enduring as did the civilizations around them. It is in the built and unbuilt spaces that respond deeply to their surrounding environment, that speak of that culture and of that time, that reflect its people and its local landscape. And it is also in its ability to serve as a historical record in which one can understand humanity’s past and its potential future as architects consider the environmental, social, technical, and cultural challenges of modern day. (Read more)











Rebecca Barry, AIA, NCARB

Ghafari Associates | Dearborn, Michigan


Pictured: Rebecca Barry, AIA, NCARB | Photography: M-Buck Studio LLC

To Rebecca Barry, AIA, NCARB, Director of Architecture at Ghafari Associates headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, every built space has a story behind it. It is a story that can speak to the people, the culture, and the context around it, the mission and programmatic goals of an organization, and a celebration of ingenuity, creative problem solving, and the history and lessons learned in an ever-evolving dynamic field. There is a social responsibility in the crafting of it, and for Barry, it is a rewarding experience to be able to help play a role in shaping it and in inspiring future generations of creatives to dream up of what is possible for the built landscape. (Read more)











Full profiles coming soon…

First published in The Architects, Great Lakes By Design: Architectonics



Other issues:
2022 Architects
2021 Architects
GLBD - Architects 2020 - Michael Buck
Architects 2020
GLBD - Architects 2018 - Michael Buck
Architects 2018
GLBD - Architects 2017 - Michael Buck
Architects 2017