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What Happened When One Architect Caught the D/P/S "Buzz"

August 26, 2019

Principal Chris Gunning first felt the “buzz” in an interview with D/P/S back in 1995.  “Steve Perich and I hit it off right away. Then Dale Dekker walked in, noticed my height, and asked if I wanted to join him on the D/P/S basketball team.” 24 years later, Chris still feels the creative, innovative, high-energy buzz he felt on his first day. “I love that about our firm. We’re open to new technologies and we want to work with people who are excited to find new and better ways to do our work.” That openness afforded Chris plenty of opportunity to be creative and test his skills. He says, “I think that’s why I’ve been successful here. I was always enthusiastic and willing to take on whatever task came my way.”

Turns out, two decades of saying “yes” can have quite an impact on the visual landscape of a city. Chris’s hand can be seen in a variety of high profile projects including ABQ Studios, ABQ Uptown, and Jefferson Green, the first LEED Gold Certified office building in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dale Dekker says, “I think one enduring piece of architecture that will stand in tribute to Chris Gunning for years in our community is the work he did on the Alvarado Transportation Center; it gives our community such a sense of place and really contributes to the soul of who we are as a city and as a people.” About this, Chris simply says, “It’s fun to work on projects that have an impact in our community.”

Benjamin Gardner, CEO, says, “Chris has not only helped the firm design a vast amount of exceptional projects for our clients but has also been a great influence in shaping our culture through his outstanding abilities to provide mentorship to every member of our team.” Associate and Architect, Kevin Kofchur, worked with Chris in the commercial group for over 19 years and says “His superpower is his even temper. He’s never cracked.” Talk with anyone about Chris and they will inevitably mention his unwavering ability to “take everything in stride and keep smiling” and that his grace under pressure is a quality they strive to emulate.

After announcing his plan to retire, Gunning’s last day is coming too quickly for most at the firm. Coordinator and Intern Architect, Chris Santacroce, doesn’t really want to think about what it will be like working without his “first boss” as a sounding board and mentor. Instead, he wonders how he will “share some of the same light that Chris showed him with others.”

Not a bad rap for an architect from small-town Oklahoma who felt the buzz long enough to impact a city’s architecture and influence the trajectory of one of the premier design firms in the Southwest. Sadly, the D/P/S basketball team will be losing some height this year.

Come September, D/P/S’s commercial group will have a new leader, Principal and Architect, Jeremy Shelton. Jeremy has been with the firm for 16 years and has worked closely with various in-house design groups including government, housing, and healthcare. He’s excited to build upon the “solid foundation Chris has created.”

We thank Chris for his unwavering commitment to great architecture and for his steadfast strength as a leader. We wish him every happiness in his retirement, and at the same time, welcome Jeremy to his new role and “home” in commercial.


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