Paige Sullivan

Focal Point: Paige Sullivan, AIA, Architect

Paige is an Architect on Wold's government team who has been able to carve out a niche and find an intersection between her passion for preservation, public safety, and architecture through her work. Her first project, the Cottage Grove Fire Station, really cemented her interest in public safety, with fire stations in particular becoming her area of expertise. Born and raised in Hudson, Wisconsin, Paige went to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where she double majored in architecture and art history, focusing on the historical preservation of architecture.

Paige’s Design Philosophy: Architecture as a Community Service

"I've always been interested in public safety, working with heroes and people who protect the community and understanding what they do and how we as architects can help them by creating spaces that support what they need when they're back at the station."

Firefighters have an incredibly high-stress job, and generally, the public only sees them on their worst days – during active fire or emergency calls. Architects have the unique opportunity to serve the people who serve their communities by designing functional facilities that are also comfortable.

"When they get back to the station, they're just regular people trying to decompress, so it's important to me that we are supporting and really helping them."


Finding Creative Solutions

In her career, Paige's passion for preservation has flourished at Wold. One of the projects she is most proud of allowed her to explore and utilize her talents in a unique way. In the City of Minnetonka, when tasked with creating a new fire station, there was a major hurdle the designer team had to overcome before work could begin.

"There were a lot of incredible old large oak trees on the site, and we had to remove a ton of them for the facility."

The removal of such a beautiful, wooded area was a point of anxiety for the city council and members of the community alike, so her project team came up with a unique solution.

"We were able to harvest those trees and we made panels that went on the walls. We reused some of it for handrails, and it just turned out beautiful. We call them forest panels because we took down the forest to get them. This solution made everyone happy, especially the nature lovers like myself.”


Hands-on Learning

Paige has found it easy to carve out her place at Wold.

"Early on, when you're in school, you're told constantly that you'll be a draftsperson for the first twelve years of your career, but with Wold, on my second day I was going to a bid opening."

She says the invaluable client contact and agency early on have helped her more than anything.

"From day one, Wold has given me more opportunities than I'd ever thought possible."

How do you spend your free time?

I enjoy boating and fishing on the St. Croix with my family and friends and spending as much time outdoors as possible. I also really enjoy working on our house – we have a mid-century fixer-upper, and spend lots of time on home projects. I recently screened our entire porch by myself! Two years later it still looks just as good as the day it was finished.

What personal goals do you have?

I want to visit all the National Parks in the United States. So far, I’ve been to eight parks, my favorite being the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina/Tennessee border, but I’m very excited about my upcoming trip to Alaska. Denali National Park was number one on my bucket list, and to finally be doing it is very exciting!

Boat Day
Exit Glacier AK

What drew you to architecture?

I spent hours playing The Sims as a kid, and found I really enjoyed world-building and designing. Then, I happened to take a work study class in high school that helped me decide on architecture as a career. I’ve always loved old buildings and seeing the potential they hold.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an architect?

I would love to flip houses. My parents and I haven't missed a year of the Tour of Homes since I was 8 years old. For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about building things for myself, toys, furniture, etc.

What advice do you have for young professionals?

It’s important to stay realistic about work life balance. You see a lot of people that burn out early on. Professionally, you have deadlines and those deadlines just keep coming. Make sure you're being healthy about your work life. Also, try a lot of building types and be open-minded. I definitely never thought I'd be doing the government and public safety work that I'm doing, and being exposed to that early on has had a major impact on my career advancement.

Alaska Brown Bears
Family 1

Our Focal Point series provides a behind-the-scenes look at the talented team members who bring our work to life. Read previous focal points on Jake Wollensak and Aimee LaLone.

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