Wendell Burnette

Design Critic in Architecture

Wendell Burnette is a self-taught architect with an internationally recognized body of work. Burnette’s eponymous studio Wendell Burnette Architects (WBA) has been based in Phoenix for over twenty-seven years and their multi-scaled work is concerned with space, light, context, and community. Originally from Nashville, Burnette discovered the southwest desert as an apprentice at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. His eleven-year association with the studio of Will Bruder culminated in a six-year design collaboration as co-designer, project and field architect on the Phoenix Central Library, which was awarded AIA’s Twenty-Five Year Award in 2021.

Wendell has lectured widely on his firms work and philosophy in the United States and abroad for decades. Burnette was a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University for fifteen years and for over twenty years has held Chaired Professorships and/or taught Visiting Studios at numerous Universities across the US and this Fall 2023 is honored to be an Option Studio Visiting Critic at the Harvard GSD.

WBA’s award-winning projects include residences located across the US, public libraries, community centers, museums, adaptive reuse, historic preservation, and hospitality (hotels, spas and restaurants) including the much-acclaimed Amangiri Resort in southern Utah, as well as other works internationally.

WBA has earned numerous honors for Design Excellence including a 1990 Young Architects Award from Progressive Architecture Magazine, a 1999 Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League of New York, a 2009 Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters recognizing an American Architect ‘whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction’, which was accompanied by an exhibition at the Academy in NYC the same year, three Architectural Record ‘Record House Awards’, and over 15 AIA Arizona / AIA Western Mountain Region design awards, including one National AIA / ALA Design Award and one National AIA Honor Award and for the Palo Verde Library / Maryvale Community Center.

The work of Wendell Burnette Architects has been published in over 200 publications worldwide including The Burnette Studio / Residence, a single building monograph by Rockport Press in 2001 and his first full-length monograph Dialogues in Space by Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers in 2016. His design philosophy is grounded in listening and distilling the essence of a project to create highly specific architecture that is at once functional and poetic and resonant with people and place.