Joel Dunning

Focal Point: Joel Dunning, Partner, AIA, LEED AP

Meet Joel Dunning, an industry veteran and partner at Wold Architects and Engineers who is dedicated to delivering innovative solutions for Wold’s municipal, county, state and federal clients. He earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Ball State University, gaining hands-on experience at an architecture firm in Berlin during his studies abroad. After his graduation, Joel accepted an offer to join Wold and has been part of the team for more than 25 years!

A thought leader in the government design space, Joel has presented multiple times to the Minnesota City/County Facility Management Association and was interviewed by Security Magazine, where he discussed mitigating risks through secure facility design, risk assessments and building security strategies. His deep expertise in the government sector allows him to deliver innovative solutions for municipal, county, state and federal projects and navigate the political processes needed to successfully move projects from planning to completion.

Learn more about what inspires his approach, advice for young professionals, hobbies and much more in our latest Focal Point Q&A below.

How does your personal experience influence the planning and design of government environments?

I believe there should be an inherent welcoming, collaborative feeling in public buildings that allows the public to feel welcome, safe and that they belong in that space. Personally, I believe in the power of society coming together to accomplish something greater than any individual could accomplish alone. I strive for understated excellence and proficiency, and my design of government environments strives to achieve the same.

If you weren't an architect, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t an architect, I would be living in a van traveling to the many beautiful natural parks in this world.

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How do you define creativity?

Creativity is about being open to new ideas and pulling yourself out of the track you’re on. It’s looking at the big picture to find alternate solutions to the problem at hand and objectively determining and accepting if a new solution is better than the one you had been originally pursuing.

What’s your favorite part of working at Wold?

I truly enjoy working with clients to solve challenging problems in a way that meaningfully and positively affects their community.

What advice do you have for new professionals in the industry?

My main piece of advice is to always ask to be involved beyond your assigned tasks, be inquisitive and try to explore the broader context to understand how your contributions align with the bigger picture.

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Family matters:

I have two children who are 17 and 19, two cats, two siblings and two parents, but only one girlfriend (who is happy that I don’t have two of those).

Use three words to describe yourself.

I am quiet, thoughtful and a listener.

What do you do in your spare time?

I try to fit in an active hobby each day like running, biking or hiking. In general, I love exploring places I’ve never been before, both urban and natural. One of my greatest joys is being somewhere new, waking up just before the sunrise, going for a run and not knowing where I’m going to end up or what I’ll see along the way.

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What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

Be curious, explore and experiment as much as possible. Don’t rush to be a “grown up” before you’ve had a chance to live and finally, always lift with your legs and not your back. If I had followed this advice, I potentially would have avoided needing back surgery for a herniated disk at age 26.

What type of music is on your workplace playlist?

I don’t often get to listen to music at work because I’m usually in client meetings or offsite for a project. The few times I do turn up the tunes is typically to listen to classical music because it helps me focus.

What is one thing on your bucket list?

I would love to travel to Antarctica or go on an African safari someday.

To learn more about Joel Dunning, his experience and his insights, visit here. Our Focal Point series provides a behind-the-scenes look at the talented team members who bring our work to life.

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