40 NUMBERS TO CELEBRATE THE 40TH YEAR OF OUR FIRM
GFF was founded in 1982 with the goal of delivering both exceptional design and exceptional service to our clients. Forty years later, the vision is still the same. Thousands of projects, hundreds of design awards, dozens of firm awards, and four decades haven’t changed our approach. We are still committed to Creating Memorable Places and instilling confidence in our clients as stewards of their vision and resources, while taking care for the people and neighborhoods where these projects are built.
What has changed are the circumstances in which we work.
Today, we are a much more diverse practice than we were in the early 1980’s. Over time, we have built a multi-disciplinary practice that includes Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, and Planning. Our holistic approach to projects is a collaboration of an extremely diverse group of designers with the same commitment to excellence. Our 142 employees are composed of one generation providing a wealth of experience and the next generation coming through who offer energy, innovation, and extraordinary technological capability.
Our cities are also vastly different. Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin increasingly turn towards the ideals of sustainability, community, walkability, and cultural identity. GFF has been on the leading edge of pursuing these goals with transformative projects as our cities become greener, more inclusive urban environments with stronger neighborhoods and communities. Transformative mixed-use projects have challenged outdated approaches to zoning. Workplaces achieve a higher sense of wellness. Lush city parks and hyper-connected trail systems, preserved and innovatively adapted historic structures, and compelling entertainment opportunities enhance our daily lives.
well-designed places have never been more essential than they are in 2022. People continue to move to our state in waves on the promise of higher quality of life and cultural experiences. Our firm believes that everyone should have access to both regardless of budget, neighborhood, or the obstacles that have historically inhibited achievement of these ideals. The state of our climate requires an elevated sense of urgency as buildings are among the highest consumers of Earth’s energy and resources. Our firm’s commitment to people and the planet is based on the idea that buildings and landscapes should be healthy and efficient, making a net-positive impact on the beautiful environment we share.
The combination of a strong, diverse practice, great cities to work in, and the extraordinary design opportunities that face all of us make us optimistic that the next 40 years can be as incredible and rewarding as the last. Before we turn the page and begin the next chapter, we want to pay homage to our firm’s history by giving you a fact for each year of our existence. These 40 facts provide context and appreciation to the decades in which we have had the honor to positively impact the cities where we work. Some are serious and some are not so serious. We hope you enjoy them all either way!
The Year of our Founding
It began when Larry Good and Duncan Fulton broke away and started the practice from their own homes in the early 80’s. They would soon be in an office space in the West End with more than a dozen employees.
Our practice has grown and so has our presence throughout the state of Texas. We have offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin, providing exemplary service to our clients in all three cities.
We believe that design should be approached holistically. Our firm offers Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, and Planning services. Often, a project that begins with our planning group involves collaboration from designers in all four divisions.
A passion for Creating Memorable Places is the thing that gets us out of bed every morning. Our projects are intentionally focused on the human scale, creating spaces for all of the beautiful moments that happen in life.
From 1982 to 2022, we’ve practiced through seven presidential administrations. Seven Texas governors, 11 Dallas mayors, seven Fort Worth mayors, and 11 Austin mayors have also been at the helm since we opened our doors.
Economic Recessions, Pandemics, and Snowstorms Survived
It’s a testament to the resiliency of our business that we’ve weathered the ups and downs of the past 40 years. A balanced approach to different industry sectors, great business practices, and a leading approach to technology means that we’ve always been ready for adversity.
Texas Professional Sports Champions
It’s a point of reference that we can say our firm is older than championships by the Cowboys (3), Astros (1), Spurs (5), Mavericks (1), Rockets (2), Comets (4), Dynamo (2), and Stars (1). Texas natives also account for 64 Gold Medals since our founding in 1982.
Increase In The Texas Population
Texas’s population has exploded since we kicked it off in the early 80’s. During that time, Texas population has grown from 15,331,415 to today’s estimated population of 29,947,238.
TxA Firm Awards
In 2019, GFF was recognized by TxA as Texas’ firm of the year with its “Firm Award.” It’s an honor to the say the least to be among a group of extraordinary design firms that have received this award since TxA began awarding it in 1996.
AIA Dallas Firm of the Year Awards
We have been recognized at a firm level in the city of Dallas three times since our founding. It’s a great achievement that explains a generational commitment to design excellence in the city of our founding but will anything ever top this photo from D magazine in the 1980’s?
Our projects have been recognized for design excellence since our founding, but we approach design by putting emphasis on the idea that buildings and landscapes are for people, not awards.
Historic Preservation Achievement Awards
A fundamental part of our practice has been the preservation of adaptation of historic places. We have completed projects at Dealey Plaza, St Paul United Methodist Church, Fair Park, and many other historic locations worth preserving.
AIA Dallas Presidents
Larry Good, Duncan Fulton, Bryce Weigand, and current GFF Principal Maria Gomez have all served as presidents of the Dallas AIA. It’s a privilege to lead the AIA in one of the biggest cities in America.
AIA Fellows are recognized with AIA’s highest membership honor for their exceptional work and contributions to architecture and society. GFF has had six AIA Fellows through its history including current GFF Principal Stephen Pickard!
Graduates of TREC ALC & AIA Emerging Leaders
A fundamental approach to our firm is engagement with our local design community. Our designers are regular members of both TREC and the AIA’s Emerging Leaders Program.
Active Board Members of Community Organizations
Many within the firm spend their own time serving in leadership positions for local organizations. This connects us to the community and offers us the opportunity to give back both as designers and neighbors.
Our firm has grown significantly over the past 40 years. Between three offices, 12 studios, and 142 employees, we’re more capable than ever to take on city-shaping projects.
Employees Throughout the History of our Firm
Four decades of practice have given us the opportunity to work with nearly 700 people. Some have retired and others have left for new opportunities but we consider all of them family.
GFFers who Married a Co-worker
Occasionally we find that two people find their life partner in the workplace. Have you ever been to a wedding with too many designers? We can neither confirm nor deny that all the talk during the reception about buildings and projects will be stimulating.
Kids of GFFers
We are a family company. Our flexible work schedules have given parents within the firm the chance to spend more time with their families and we love seeing all the future designers at our work parties!
An office in the West End, the Centrum, LTV Center, and our current office have all been the Dallas home of award-winning design work. Our Austin and Fort Worth offices have recently moved into their second locations as they have grown!
Bytes of Information
That’s a complicated way of saying 21 terabytes of current server space (just for fun). Adjusting for inflation, we bet that number will pass 30 terabytes before we throw another firm anniversary party!
It has been fun for our marketing team to twice design a publication of our favorite projects. Like our projects, designing a book is it’s own sort of challenge and it always feels good to hold something you designed in your hands.
SOTF, GFFU, Town Halls, and Leaders Live Events
We consider our practice a home for conversations about design, practice, and the future of our cities. GFF has been hosting industry experts and civic leaders in our office for decades to discuss issues and evolution as it relates to our profession.
That’s an average of more than 160 projects a year since our founding. Each project is different in terms of its scope. Some are quick and many take years to complete. We approach each with the passion to do memorable design work and leave our clients satisfied.
Successful Zoning Changes
GFF specializes in projects that require zoning changes. in order to make neighborhoods better, improve the viability of projects, and introduce better designs that are limited by current zoning laws, GFF has the experience and the leadership to shepherd these project through.
Campus Master Plans
From historic university campuses to brand new corporate office campuses, GFF Planning has helped to create the vision for some of the most comprehensive, large-scale projects in Texas. They have worked with SMU, Texas A&M Central Texas, and several fortune 500 companies along the way (among others)!
High-rises Built or about to be Built
As our firm has grown, so has the height of our projects. Our mixed-use and corporate office work has allowed us to design several high-rises with stunning views of our cities and interesting relationships with the ground plane. This year, construction will begin on our 23Springs project in the Uptown neighborhood of Dallas.
Flavors of La Croix
We do not officially endorse anything although it might make sense in the case of La Croix. Outside of tea and coffee, GFFers have almost entirely stopped drinking other drinks aside from our favorite six flavors of this slightly-flavored-lightly-carbonated-water. Rumor has it that Berry is the best.
All Of ‘Em
Hamburgers Without Onion
A former Principal, whose name will not be mentioned here despite his good charisma, good talent, and good role in building this firm, established a very respected culture of not ordering onions on anything. Our second generation of leaders still think twice before forgetting to hold the onion.
Batches of Jalapeno Jelly
Kay Duncan, wife of former Principal Duncan Fulton, has satisfied us for 38 years with her famous Jalapeño Jelly during the holiday season. We can’t give you the recipe but we can state with authority that one of the ingredients is magic.
GFFer who became Texas Monthly’s BBQ Critic
Daniel Vaughn, an Architect formerly working in our firm, used his weekends and vacation time to travel through Texas, eat barbeque, and write a book about the whole experience about ten years ago. Today, he is the BBQ critic of Texas Monthly.
Kilometers of Form Follows Fitness Run
15-30 employees participating in the Form Follows Fitness every year since 2012 is a lot of kilometers. That’s 768 miles or the right distance to find a nice cool beach to escape this Texas heat for a few days.
Bark N’ Build Houses Built
On eight separate occasions, GFF has partnered with a local general contractor to construct some pretty cool structures for some pretty cool puppies. After a brief display for the public, a lucky dog gets to snooze in an award-worthy tiny home.
Animals We Care For
GFF’s family doesn’t only include our current employees, past employees, and all of our children. It also includes the hundreds of animals that they care for. GFF has always been an animal loving firm, designing Bark N’ Build structures, designing Animal Rescues, and fundraising for animal services in honor of the late, great, fabulous Betty White.
On Our Own Time Arts Shows
They say behind every designer is a hidden artist and GFF has some stunners in that area. From painting, wood working, illustration, leather making, sculpting, literature, and music, our employees have had the opportunity to show off their talent at Dallas’ annual On Our Own Time art show on eight separate occasions.
A new generation of leaders is at the helm of GFF in 2022. Allison Hubbard, Brian Kuper, Brian Moore, Evan Beattie, Jim West, Jon Rollins, Maria Gomez, and Stephen Pickard provide experience and leadership for a practice that continues to be one of the most dynamic firms in Texas.
At the heart of any professional practice are people who have a depth of knowledge and experience. As a firm, we have always sought to give every designer the tools and resources to get licensed because it makes our projects better and empowers them to take ownership of their designs.
These seven maxims are the foundation and the standard for our project approach. When we accomplish each, we know that we are delivering the most potential to the clients, stakeholders, and end-users that live, work, and play in the projects we design.
Years are Worth Celebrating!
As we look towards the next decade of firm transformation, we can’t wait for the opportunity it will bring. Our firm continues to grow and so does our thinking about the firm we can be in the future. Let’s celebrate this milestone and keep pushing to make the next even more rewarding!
Cheers to the people who have made this year possible — 40 years of practice is no small feat. It’s taken a lot of hard work by a lot of highly motivated GFFers. Through various seasons of industry change, transforming urbanism, economic challenge, and generational difference, our practice has continually redefined itself so that we can continue to deliver great design work. Thank you to our employees for making each year more exciting and rewarding than the last. Every year, we reach new heights and find new reasons to be proud of the work we are doing. Thank you to our design collaborators. The engineers and consultants we work together with on our projects always make us feel like a team that is part of something bigger. And thank you to our clients. Your faith in us continually gives us the opportunity to make our cities better places to live and the fulfillment that accompanies seeing your vision through from the earliest stages of design.