Our History

2018 marked a particularly special anniversary for TruexCullins, as the firm celebrated 50 years in business.

In 1968, William Truex Jr joined Eugene Alexander and formed a new architecture firm in the small city of Burlington, Vermont. From the very beginning, the firm’s civic role established a clear focus on urban planning and the design of buildings that serve a public purpose.

The Early Years:
the Church Street Marketplace


Church Street designed by Bill TruexThe new firm made an indelible mark on their hometown when, in the early 1970s, Bill Truex developed the first design concept for the Church Street Marketplace.

Inspired by the pedestrian plazas of Europe, Bill joined a small group of Burlington’s civic leaders and initiated a pilot project, closing a busy downtown street to traffic to test the feasibility of a new pedestrian core for Burlington’s downtown.  The project was a success and led to the active planning and design of the pedestrian marketplace over the following decade.

Bill’s leadership resulted in the permanent removal of vehicle traffic from Church Street and its conversion into the award-winning Church Street Marketplace. The project involved an unprecedented closing of a major vehicular artery to create pedestrian linkages throughout the downtown area. Collectively, these and other urban improvement decisively enhanced the quality of Burlington’s downtown, contributing to the city center’s lively character and commercial vitality.


Church Street designed by Bill Truex

Many North American communities have recognized the success of this project as a model worthy of replication. In 1997, the National Trust for Historic Preservation granted its Great American Main Street Award to the Church Street Marketplace, in 2008, the Marketplace was honored by the American Planning Association as one of the 10 Great Public Spaces in America, and in 2022 it was recognized by USA Today as having the nation’s Best Public Square.


1975 – 1985: Commitment to Community


Architect VermontIn 1975, architects Willem deGroot and Tom Cullins started their own firm after having worked together at Burlington Associates, Architects and Planners.  Two years later, they merged with Eugene and Bill to form Alexander & Truex / DeGroot Cullins.  Rolf Kielman, who remains with the firm today, joined the team the following year in 1978.

Eugene and Bill had started the firm by reinforcing the public realm through urban planning. In the 1970s and 80s, this focus grew to include a more diverse array of public and private projects, many of national significance. The firm expanded on their involvement in the development of downtown Burlington and surrounding communities, demonstrating the importance of place-making through thoughtful people-centric design, with a conscious blending of the interior and exterior.

Architect ChurchesOne of the most celebrated structures in downtown Burlington to this day is Saint Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Tom Cullins with Bill Henderson while at Burlington Associates in the early 1970s.  The design of Saint Paul’s Cathedral was the winning entry in a national architectural competition. The Cathedral sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain and is a kind of spiritual lighthouse that marks the city’s urban and natural edges. The sanctuary walls and cloister form the urban edge, the entry to this religious monument presenting itself responsibly to the street front.

Architect City Master PlannerAlexander-Truex-deGroot became well known nationally for the development of regional blood centers.  Starting with the Vermont/New Hampshire Red Cross Blood Center in 1974, the firm went on to design blood centers in eight other states, including the highly praised Richmond Metropolitan Blood Center and the Greater Hartford Chapter American Red Cross Blood Center, recipient of an AIA VT award for Excellence in Architecture Design. All of this work was driven by Bill Truex’s passion to create open, inviting structures that celebrate the donor.

Other projects during this period include McAuliffe’s Office Products Center, winner of a National Design Award in 1973 and an example of creativity and innovation in an urban setting; and the Southwick Music Building at the University of Vermont, which contrasts the modern with early 20th-century revival, achieving a flattering effect not through imitation but through juxtaposition.  The building engages its users with a play on shadow and light.

The collective work by the firm in these early years advanced the notion that public architecture and planning can be accomplished with sustained commitment and creativity, and it reinforced the core belief that architects must be of service to their community.


1985 – 2005: A Time of Growth


sign_History In 1982 the firm moved to its current location on Battery Street in downtown Burlington.  While Tom Cullins served as Chief Architect for IDEA Center in Athens, Greece, the remaining partners merged into Alexander Truex deGroot Architects in the Battery Street location.  Upon Tom’s return, and with the retirement of Gene Alexander, the firm changed names once again to Truex deGroot Cullins.  The leadership team was soon joined by Steve Selin, Samir Elabd and Rolf Kielman.

Over the course of twenty years, starting in the mid 1980s, Truex DeGroot Cullins grew to a 45-person architecture firm.  The office strengthened its relationship with area institutions of higher education and designed a series of buildings for college campuses throughout Vermont, often in concert with one another to create interconnected and intimate outdoor spaces.

Architect College Campus DesignersTwo notable examples are the Cornell Library at Vermont Law School and the Miller Information Commons Library at Champlain College.  Later, the firm contributed to the shaping of campuses at The University of Vermont, Champlain College, St. Michael’s College, and Vermont Law School. The firm developed the St. Michael’s College east campus master plan, and later went on to produce the design of the Hoehl Welcome Center, a building that openly greets prospective students and their families while gesturing to the college’s rich Edmundite heritage.

The firm developed transformative urban design solutions for large municipalities as well, including the Winooski downtown redevelopment master plan and the East Providence Waterfront redevelopment master plan. At the same time, Truex DeGroot Cullins worked on a number of private residential projects in both urban and rural contexts. These homes were often formally organized and precisely configured, yet fit comfortably within the randomness of nature.  They were a careful assemblage of parts, responding well to both site and client.

Burlington VT ArchitectThe formal residential designs of the late twentieth century coalesced with the previous 30 years of urban design projects and culminated in the development of one of Burlington’s major downtown blocks.  The Residences at College and Battery, along with the nearby Westlake Residences and Marriott Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, comprise a family of brick- and glass-clad structures that denote the city’s edge and complete the urban work that began 30 years earlier at Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

A New Century: Four Design Studios


In the early 2000’s, TruexCullins continued its tradition of shaping public spaces and promoting holistic and integrated design.  In 2006 the firm refined its name to better reflect the combination of exterior and interior design expertise.

With the full name of TruexCullins Architecture and Interior Design, the firm organized its portfolio into four design studios: education, hospitality, residential, and workplace.  The work was carried out under the leadership of David Epstein, Richard Deane, Kim Deetjen, Lee Grutchfield, and Rolf Kielman.

American School Architect SpecialistThe education studio offers architectural design and master planning services for K-12 and higher education institutions.  The work of the education studio has touched five continents, from Brazil to Russia to Madagascar.  The Anglo-American School of Sofia was awarded LEED-Gold Certification for a major expansion of its middle and high school.

Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, NY Job #08-141The hospitality studio built a portfolio of hotels and recreational facilities that offer peaceful refuge from day to day life. This work began with ski lodges of the green mountains, and soon grew to include mountain resorts in the Adirondacks and the Rockies.  Lake Placid Lodge is a luxurious 35 guest suite inn that combines rustic elegance with the comfort of a mountain retreat, designed in the tradition of the grand Adirondack lodges of the turn of the century.

Net zero architect VtThe residential studio develops personal solutions for clients,  including an increasing number of net-zero homes that produce as much energy as they consume. Advances in energy innovation were realized in projects such as South Farm Homes, a collection of six net-zero energy houses clustered on a south-facing hillside in central Vermont.

transportation architect and designerIn the workplace studio, TruexCullins is pushing the envelope with high performance commercial buildings that rise to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.  One such example was the LEED-Gold Certified aircraft hangar and public terminal for Heritage Aviation at the Burlington International Airport.  A 1955-era Air National Guard hangar was stripped down to the steel and rebuilt as a model of sustainability for the aviation industry.

Interior Designer Hotel VTThe interior design studio grew to specialize in hospitality design, producing site-specific design solutions uniquely tied to their locale, from Maine to California. At Hotel Vermont, the locavore movement was expanded to the interior design for a uniquely branded guest experience that is specific to the property and its location.

TruexCullins Today


TruexCullins is fortunate to have inherited the legacy of some of Vermont’s most esteemed architects.  The work of Bill Truex, Tom Cullins, Gene Alexander, Willem DeGroot and others is the foundation upon which the firm has built a path of design excellence.

TruexCullins has remained strong for more than 50 years through its ability to adapt and evolve over time. This evolution of the firm continues with the addition of the next generation of leadership in Keith Nelson, Matt Bushey, and Marc DeSmet.

As the firm enters its next 50 years, TruexCullins looks to the future with a renewed commitment to advancing environmental sustainability; a social mission dedicated to equity, inclusion and positive change; and a continued focus on design excellence.





50th Anniversary

TruexCullins Marks 50 Years of Architecture and Design
Happy New Years From TruexCullins

Anglo-American School of Sofia

Architecture Profile: Anglo-American School of Sofia
TruexCullins Wins Awards for School Design

Champlain College

Architectural Profile: IDX Student Center

Church Street Marketplace

Flashback Friday: The Church Street Marketplace
Church Street Storytellers

Courtyard Marriott Burlington Harbor Hotel

Architecture Profile: Courtyard Marriott Burlington Harbor Hotel

Heritage Aviation

Architecture Profile: Heritage Aviation

Hotel Vermont

Interior Design Profile: Hotel Vermont
A Rolling Landscape Takes Shape at Hotel Vermont
Capturing Vermont in Metal and Wood

Lake Placid Lodge

Architecture Profile: Lake Placid Lodge
Working Fireplaces

Richmond Metropolitan Blood Center

Flashback Friday: The Richmond Blood Center

Saint Michael’s College

Architecture Profile: Hoehl Welcome Center
Architecture Profile: Cronogue Hall
Construction Update: Saint Michael’s College Residence Hall 

St. Paul’s Cathedral

50 Years of Design: St. Paul’s Cathedral
A Papal Throwback Thursday: St Paul’s Cathedral Rises from the Ashes

South Farm Homes

Architecture Design Profile: South Farm Homes

Sunpower Homes

Flashback Friday: Sunpower Homes

University of Vermont

Architecture Profile: Rec and Wellness Center
Architecture Profile: Dudley H. Davis Student Center
Architecture Ghost Stories from the Not-So-Distant Past

Vermont Law School

Architectural Profile: Debevoise Hall
Architectural Profile: Center for Legal Services
In Memoriam: The Vermont Law School Gazebo

William “Bill” Truex

Remembering Bill Truex, Citizen Architect

TruexCullins September 1, 2022