Melissa M. Farling, FAIA, LEED AP

Principal | Gould Evans
Phoenix, AZ


As a principal of Gould Evans, Melissa provides leadership to the Phoenix studio and within the design profession with a primary focus on the impacts of architecture on people. She believes this knowledge is essential to enabling the creation of sustaining and appropriate environments and increasing society’s expectations of the built environment while elevating the profession. She was co-chair for the National AIA’s Academy of Justice for Architecture (AAJ) Research Committee for ten years, now serving as a member of the AAJ Leadership Group and liaison to the Research Committee.  Melissa was one of the principal investigators on a National Institute of Corrections funded study to examine impacts of views of nature on stress in a jail intake area.

In an effort to create positive impact, much of Melissa’s work has focused on social justice and public projects of all sizes. She has successfully applied research to design, resulting in measurable outcomes. She has contributed to many publications and gives frequent presentations on evidence-based design applications. Believing that empathy and respect are the foundations for conversation and design, she excels at bringing multi-disciplinary expertise to the studio to facilitate more informed and rigorous explorations.

Melissa is a registered architect in Arizona and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture from the University of Arizona.

ANFA Themes

Since I was an architectural undergrad, I have been interested in understanding the impacts of architecture on behavior.  It wasn’t until I learned about ANFA and then became involved in 2006 – first as a Research Associate and more recently as an Advisory Council member – I could dream of a deeper understanding of those impacts. In recent years other issues, such as building performance, have received more attention and research over human “performance” and experience. I believe it is my responsibility as an architect to understand the consequences of the spaces I design.  Mental illness and justice facility design and K-12 schools are areas of focus in immediate need of exploration. Neuroscience can provide the necessary evidence for architects’ intuitive strategies and help to increase society’s expectations of the built environment while elevating the profession.

Selected Publications

Persky, E., Farbstein, J., & Farling, M. (pending). Chapter 4: Case Study – Diagnostic Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE): Courthouse POE Toolkit Pilot Study. NCARB Continuing Education Case Study Monograph.

Is There Dignity in Architecture?,in CoA+A Community, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Alumni Project, Invited Contributor, March 2018.  (

Persky, E., Farbstein, J., & Farling, M. (2016). Chapter 4: Informed Design: A Post-Occupancy Evaluation Toolkit for Courthouses in Building Performance Evaluation: From Delivery Process to Life Cycle PhasesSpringer.

Farling, M. (2015). From Intuition to Immersion:  Architecture and Neuroscience. In S. Robinson and J. Pallasmaa (Eds.) Mind in Architecture: Neuroscience, Embodiment, and the Future of Design (pp. 181-196). Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Jay Farbstein, Melissa Farling and Richard Wener, “The Impact of Simulated Nature Views on Stress in a Correctional Setting”, Correctional News, (September/October 2012).

Marlene S. Imirzian, Arizona School Design Primer: The Basic Elements of School Design, (Arizona, 2012). Melissa Farling, Contributing Author.