Deb Wendel Daub cares about her community, and that personal value has constantly woven itself into her work as an architect, a volunteer, and now a Senior Project Manager with Kilbourne Group.
Deb grew up on a farm north of LaMoure, ND, the second oldest of 12 children. She attended NDSU as a Human Development and Family Sciences major, but after witnessing the pure passion of those in the architecture program, she made the switch.
“I hadn’t been exposed to architecture at all during my rural upbringing. But I was intrigued by how it became their life, their interest, and their passion, and that’s how I wanted to live,” says Deb. “I see it in our interns, too.”
Her first job was with ZGF Partnership in Portland, OR. It was a firm of more than 500 people and the feeling of making a strong, positive impact alluded Deb. She traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and worked for architecture firms for 6 months. Along with an NDSU colleague, she entered and won a design competition to create an experience along the 480-mile stretch of the north/south expressway through the peninsula.
“We designed the petro stations, prayer buildings, and picnic areas along the expressway,” says Deb.
Upon returning to Portland, Deb volunteered at Oregon Health Sciences University in the intensive care neo-natal unit. As she observed the medical interns, she once again saw a passion she wanted to be part of and decided to pursue a degree in health sciences. Before graduation, a family need drew her back to North Dakota.
She resumed her architecture career with 9-year periods with two Fargo-based firms: RLE Group and Roers Development.
In 2015, Deb took a personal values assessment and the results told her what she inherently knew: community is extremely important to her. She wanted to align her values even more closely with her work.
“Kilbourne Group’s passion and dedication to Fargo attracted me to be part of a team working to make it one of the world’s most vibrant cities,” says Deb. “I was intrigued with what was happening downtown. To renovate Renaissance Hall and then have NDSU use that building as an architecture center, and the work Kilbourne Group did at the Pence Building to create a new home for affordable healthcare, and the Loretta Building…”
Working on The Woodrow
Deb’s favorite project of her career so far? The Woodrow Wilson school historic renovation and adaptive use.
“The project brought new life to a significant building in downtown Fargo,” Deb says. “The original use was no longer viable, yet the historic character and aspects of the school live on in a respectful way.”
She was especially impressed with the way the team was able to look at the old school’s boiler room and envision mezzanine living units.
“Our architects were brilliant in visioning split level units that overlook the courtyard,” she says.
“That idea… we had to saw cut through an 18-inch wide wall to gain access to the kitchen and living room. The concept was mindboggling, and the result was beautiful.”
Deb appreciates the way Kilbourne Group respects the past of the properties it works on and how it repurposes pieces of history.
Kilbourne Group intended to include the school’s built-in casework in living units, but found that it wasn’t designed to be moved. So instead, the tongue-and-groove fir backs of the cabinets were incorporated as a wall finish in the lobby. The doors of the children’s coat closets now serve as soffits for the pendant lighting in the kitchens. Old chalkboards were re-installed in the lobby of Roberts Garage, just down the street.
Vibrant Downtowns Create Smart, Healthy Cities
Deb has a long list of ways she sees Kilbourne Group supporting the Fargo community.
“The APT project was a building that was primarily office use and we turned it into a center for artists, to strengthen the artists’ representation downtown and give them a place to become a stronger organization,” she says. “Kilbourne Group fosters entrepreneurs with their start-up businesses and ideas by offering smaller retail spaces they can afford and guiding them and providing resources for branding, and business mentors. I also appreciate the way we work with Folkways to support their events that bring people downtown and get them to discover what else is here. People are traveling from outside our area to experience downtown Fargo.”
Deb contributes extensively to Kilbourne Group’s and downtown Fargo’s success through leading development projects from dreams to reality. Her current project list includes the revitalization of the iconic Black Building on Broadway, the Roberts Commons mixed-use building that surrounds Roberts Garage, and mixed-use project that just broke ground to the north of the garage.
“Kilbourne Group’s mission to revitalize and strengthen the economy of downtown Fargo allows me to live and work my core value – community – every day.”