Rick Butler (left) and Jeff Cutberth, partners for the past 28 years at Butler Design Group (BDG), have been named the recipients of NAIOP Arizona’s 2023 Award of Excellence.

     PHOENIX, ARIZONA (March 11, 2024) – Rick Butler and Jeff Cutberth, partners for the past 28 years at Butler Design Group (BDG), have been named the recipients of NAIOP Arizona’s 2023 Award of Excellence. The award will be presented at the Best of NAIOP awards ceremony on April 25, at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn.

The NAIOP Arizona Award of Excellence recognizes individuals who have made a significant and positive impact on the commercial real estate industry in Arizona over a period of at least 15 years, along with direct contributions to the chapter. It is a fitting tribute for two individuals who have made an indelible mark on commercial real estate throughout the Valley.

“I am so excited that our most coveted award is being given to two of the most talented and hard-working people that our industry has ever seen,” said NAIOP Arizona Board Chair John Orsak, Senior Vice President with Lincoln Property Company. “The contributions Rick and Jeff have made to our industry are worthy of them being honored with the Award of Excellence.”

Butler began his architectural career while in high school, leaving college early to pursue his passion for architecture full-time. He was fascinated by everything around him, particularly the built environment. He simply wanted to create. After working for two other firms for more than 16 years, Butler launched BDG in 1996.

“Starting BDG was both terrifying and exhilarating,” he recalls. “It was also the smartest professional move I could have made. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love every day.”

While the “self-taught” route does not work for most people – and can be a daunting path to achieving registration and legitimacy in the profession – it challenged Butler to work hard, learn independently, and apply practical “street smarts” in everything he did.

After beginning his career in architecture in 1981 in Austin, Texas, Cutberth moved to Phoenix and joined OPUS in 1989. As the firm’s Director of Architecture, he gained valuable experience in the development, design, and construction industry in the Southwest region. He and Butler met and collaborated on a West Valley retail center in 1994. They became partners at Butler Design Group two years later.

Over the past 35 years, Cutberth has been involved in the design and delivery of more than 200 projects totaling more than 30 million square feet, focusing on Class A office, medical office, distribution/industrial, and civic architecture. After retiring at the end of 2021, he continues to put “pen to paper” on select BDG projects and maintains a strong mentorship connection with the firm.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by and to serve so many intelligent and talented people in the industry,” Cutberth said. “We’ve learned from the best minds in the business and collectively continued to get better and better with every project we completed.

“Our clients and the NAIOP community have helped me understand the essential ingredients of a successful development, from the initial pursuit and design to the final experience of the users that occupy the buildings,” Cutberth said.

Butler and Cutberth have grown BDG into one of the most successful design firms in the Valley, gaining numerous awards including the NAIOP Architect of the Year 18 times.

They have collaborated with many of the area’s top developers and contractors to deliver innovative, thoughtful building solutions that have created value for their clients while delivering quality, memorable design contributions to the architectural landscape.


NAIOP, a 20,000+ member organization in North America provides unparalleled industry networking and education, and advocates for effective legislation on behalf of its members. It is the leading association for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial, retail, multifamily and mixed-use real estate. The Arizona Chapter represents over 1,000 members and is among the largest in the 50+ network.