Vernon D. Swaback, FAIA, FAICP

Founding Partner

Professional Registration

Registered Architect

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)


College of Fellows / American Institute of Architects (FAIA)
College of Fellows / American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP)
Two Worlds Community Foundation
Masters of the Southwest



Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture

School of Architecture

University of Illinois


Vernon D. Swaback began his training at the University of Illinois before moving to Arizona in 1957 to become Frank Lloyd Wright’s youngest apprentice. He remained with the Wright Organization for 21 years, where he served as Director of Planning and was responsible for many of the organization’s major architectural projects. In 2004, at the request of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, he served as the organization’s CEO and interim President.

In 1978, Mr. Swaback founded the independent practice SWABACK, a 40-person multi-disciplinary firm headquartered in Scottsdale. The firm provides planning and architectural services for a wide range of institutional, commercial, and residential involvements.

Mr. Swaback is an originating crusader for the value-creating power of orchestrated planning, which he applied to the 1,040 acres surrounding the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and Estates, which is now considered the most complex and significant rezoning in Arizona history. Among other prestigious awards, the Arizona Biltmore was the recipient of Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) first award for Excellence and Heritage.

As an influencer of special-case programs, Mr. Swaback achieved the first successful application of the Phoenix high-rise ordinance outside the Central Avenue Corridor, the first use of the city’s mid-rise ordinance, and the first use of its PAD ordinance for residential application. In the City of Scottsdale, he is responsible for the first use of the city’s service residential ordinance to allow for office and residential uses in a single application. From 1991 to 1993, he directed the citizen-centered program known as Scottsdale Visioning. He is the planner for the 2,600-acre Mountain Park Ranch, the 8,000-acre DC Ranch, and Anthem’s 5,600-acres. He is also the architect for the City of Scottsdale’s Cactus Park Aquatics and Fitness Center, as well as a wide range of environmentally sensitive public and commercial projects, including SWABACK’S Studio headquarters complex, which received the top AIA Award in Arizona.

Mr. Swaback’s experience includes a continuous 40-year involvement in both planning and architecture for the historic 5,000-acre Village of Kohler, Wisconsin, including the creation of the town’s second Fifty Year Plan, the first of which was developed by the Frederick Law Olmsted firm.

Mr. Swaback’s life-long philosophies and goals have accumulated in a world-renowned library of writings, speeches, conferences, and research that has resulted in internationally published books and articles. His research and written works focus on the value-creating artistry of architecture and planning of creative communities that incorporate the ever-increasing reach of technology.