Daniels and Zermack Architects aims to produce the best possible building for the owner, community and public, within the budget and wherever possible to design with sustainable practices. We achieve this through an integrated design process.

Daniels and Zermack Architects, LLC is a full service design firm with a broad and diverse depth of commercial and institutional experience, including specialized expertise in the design of innovative financial institutions and design and planning for public and academic libraries, providing clients with comprehensive professional services including needs assessment / programming, site planning, and complete architectural / engineering and interior design services.

Beginning with Daniels and Zermack’s first project in 1950, and throughout the completion of more than a thousand succeeding projects, the firm founded by E.H. Daniels and Fred E. Zrmack has provided innovative, thoughtful design for a range of commercial projects including offices, retail, industrial, financial services, hospice and medical services, and religious structures. The work of the firm has included the full gamut ranging from modest interior renewal and remodeling projects to the design of new multi-story corporate office buildings exceeding 185,000 square feet and more than $42 million in construction cost. Most of the firm’s work has been in Michigan and surrounding states, but the firm has designed projects farther afield when called upon.

The firm values sustainable design solutions that are not just environmentally sensitive but make economical and innovative use of resources and materials. As such, the two firm principals at Daniels and Zermack Architects are LEED accredited professionals. We believe that buildings can be created as compelling places within a reasonable construction budget. Creativity and innovative construction techniques are utilized to create buildings that are exciting places to visit or work, yet are still affordable to operate, are functional, and reasonable to construct.

Seth Penchansky, AIA and Daniel E. Whisler, AIA serve as the firm’s principals leading project design efforts with over 50 years of combined experience in the design of commercial, institutional, and public buildings.

Design Philosophy

Daniels and Zermack Architects aims to produce the best possible building for the owner, community and public, within the budget and wherever possible to design with sustainable practices.  We achieve this through an integrated design process.

Specifically, for Library design, our extensive experience makes us extremely sensitive to how the Library functions. The Libraries single greatest operating cost is staffing, and it is imperative that the design be efficient for staffing as well as for the patron experience.  We always involve staff in the design process.  Security is always a concern, so focusing on visibility and adequate sightlines is a basic prerequisite to any Library design.  Aesthetically, we believe a Library should represent the community it is a part of and fit in with the fabric of that community.

MSU Federal Credit Union Headquarters 2

It has long been the architect’s charge to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.  We believe that this includes protecting the environment while designing buildings that are aesthetically pleasing to the general public. The built environment can have a considerable impact on one’s attitude, which in turn can affect one’s health and performance.  As designers, we seek to shape this impact through the careful planning of several objective environmental aspects, such as lighting levels, daylighting, ventilation, acoustics, temperature control, humidity, etc.  However, it is less obvious, and much harder, but equally as important, to measure people’s attitudinal response to more subjective qualities of space and form, such as proportion, color, and scale. Our goal is to consider all these criteria within the integrated design approach.

In the past decade, as building materials and systems have become more sophisticated, the building design process has not evolved in response, and architects are often asked to produce design documents in less time and at lower professional fees.  The integrated design approach not only strives to create more efficient buildings, but also promises a more efficient design process for the design professional and owner.  The foundation of the integrated design process is the integration of the individual design professionals, including architects, engineers, interior designers, lighting designers, construction managers, and owners, into a collaborative team. The team meets at the very inception of the design process through design charrettes, whereby participants create several concepts.  These concepts are then evaluated based on the owner’s objectives to choose the best concept or integrate the best attributes of several concepts into a hybrid solution.  Our experience is that this collaboration process brings out the most creative ideas from not just architects, but from engineers as well.  Integrated design looks to increase the efficiency of every aspect of the design and the design process.  Better coordination of the whole building team creates a better detailed set of construction documents, producing less compromises and changes during construction and building systems that perform as they were intended.

Sustainable design utilizing an integrated design approach produces buildings that have less impact on the environment, provide economic benefits to the building owners, and provide enhanced settings for those who inhabit the building.

Environmentally conscious design can reduce the negative impact that buildings and construction activities have on the environment through sound environmental planning, increased energy efficiency, reduced waste and conservation of materials and resources, and the creation of interior environments that are conducive to a healthy well-being for building occupants.  Environmentally conscious design produces functional and pleasing buildings that make practical and economic sense for building owners, and produce environments where occupants can maximize their potential, all while minimizing any negative impact the building process has on our natural environment.

Firm History

Daniels and Zermack Architects was founded in 1950 by E.H. Daniels and Fred E. Zrmack. Since its inception, the firm has grown while developing specialized expertise in the design of financial institutions and commercial buildings that serve as customer-oriented, friendly and convenient places of business. The firm has earned a solid reputation based on their guiding philosophy since inception of designing facilities that are flexible, innovative, and responsive to the client’s functional and budgetary needs, all delivered within a framework of responsible project management. The firm is proud to be one of the oldest established architectural firms in the area with a distinguished history of quality design, talented and knowledgeable staff, and stability of firm operations. The firm has been in their current Ann Arbor office location for the past 70 years.

In early 2014, Penchansky Whisler Architects began collaborating with Daniels and Zermack Architects on a number of projects. With a shared spirit for collaborative and innovative design along with a commitment to the delivery of high quality design services, firm principals recognized an affinity for our successful future work together that led to the merger of the two firms in January of 2015. Seth Penchansky, AIA and Daniel E. Whisler, AIA, serve as firm principals, continuing the firm’s long legacy of quality service and exceptional design services, and providing overall firm leadership while remaining directly involved in the management of all projects.


Having worked together in architectural firms since 1990, Mr. Penchansky and Mr. Whisler joined David Milling in 1995 as the two founding associates of David Milling & Associates (DMA) in Ann Arbor, with the firm’s primary focus on the design of public libraries. In 2004, Mr. Penchansky left DMA to form Penchansky Architects to concentrate on Library Planning and Sustainable Design. During his nine years as a senior associate at DMA, Mr. Penchansky was responsible for more than twenty library projects and led the firm’s efforts in the development of Needs Assessments and Programming for Libraries. In 2005, Daniel E. Whisler re-joined Mr. Penchansky and the firm was renamed Penchansky Whisler Architects. In his ten years as senior associate at DMA, Mr. Whisler was responsible for the successful completion of more than fifteen library projects.

Together, Mr. Penchansky and Mr. Whisler have been involved in the design of five AIA award winning Library projects, three of which were completed while at DMA and two of these library projects have received design awards from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of North America. Additionally, they have been involved in the design of two library projects that have been published on the cover of American Libraries and Library Journal’s annual issues devoted to showcasing new library building construction. Their Ferndale Public Library Addition and Renovation project received an Honorable mention for Green Project of the Year from the Construction Association of Michigan in 2010. In 2008, Daniels and Zermack Architects received an AIA Honor Award for the First Floor Renovation of the Citizen’s First Savings Bank project and has been recognized with the 50 Plus Years of Practice Award from the AIA Huron Valley Chapter. The firm was also recognized with the 1998 Michigan Interior Design Excellence Award Best of Healthcare category for the Arbor Hospice Project located in Ann Arbor, MI.

The firm’s expertise also includes providing comprehensive Interior Design services including development and specification of architectural finishes and the design and selection of furniture, furnishings and equipment for many projects. Daniels and Zermack Architects is an equal opportunity employer.


Honors and Awards

Mr. Penchansky and Mr. Whisler have been involved in the design of five AIA Award winning projects, four of which are public libraries, and two library projects have received design awards from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of North America. Additionally, they have been involved in the design of two library projects that have been published on the cover of American Libraries and Library Journal’s annual issues devoted to showcasing new library building construction.

  • Design Award AIA Huron Valley Chapter: Commerce Township Community Library, 2017
  • Build Michigan Award, Association of General Contractors: Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Headquarters Building 2, 2017
  • Design Award AIA Huron Valley Chapter: Ferndale Public Library, 2011
  • Green Project of the Year, Honorable Mention, Construction Association of Michigan: Ferndale Public Library, 2010
  • Design Award AIA Huron Valley Chapter: Glasser/Ehrlich Residence, 2004
  • AIA Huron Valley Chapter Hopkins Award for distinguished service to the chapter: Seth Penchansky, 2008
  • AIA Huron Valley Chapter Emerging Architect Award: Seth Penchansky, 2005
  • American Institute of Architecture Students Community Leader Award, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture & UP: Daniel E. Whisler, 2005
  • AIA Huron Valley Chapter Young Architect Award: Daniel E. Whisler, 2003
  • As Senior Associates of David Milling & Associates / Architects *(DMA), Seth Penchansky and Daniel E. Whisler served as Project Manager / Project Architects for the following projects recognized with honors
  • Design Award AIA Huron Valley Chapter: Ypsilanti District Library—Whittaker Road Library, 2004
  • Design Award AIA Huron Valley Chapter: Kalamazoo Public Library – Central, 2002
  • Design Award AIA Michigan: Kalamazoo Public Library – Oshtemo Branch, 2001
  • Design Award Illuminating Engineering Society: Kalamazoo Public Library – Central
  • Design Award Illuminating Engineering Society: Oxford Township Public Library


Ferndale Public Library:

  • “Gone Green – Ferndale Public Library” DTE Energy Smarts of Michigan, Winter 2011, Pages 10-11.

Kalamazoo Public Library, Central Library:

  • American Libraries, April 1999, Cover, “Contents” page, and page 66.
  • Architectural Lighting, May/June 1999, Pages 44-46.
  • CAM Magazine, November 1999.
  • CONTRACT Magazine, June 2000.

Ypsilanti District Library, Whittaker Road Library:

  • Library Journal, December 2002, Cover, Pages 42-53.

The Team

Daniels and Zermack’s staff has an unusually high level of professional experience. Each project is led by a principal-in-charge, and staff is assigned to the entire duration of that project to achieve a consistent vision and clear communication with the client. This staff is adept at fully integrating the thousands of requirements and considerations necessary for the success of your building project, and of providing you with an exceptional service experience.

Beyond meeting your functional needs, our goal as architects and interior designers is to design a facility to be an excellent place to work, learn or do business in. We insist that your finished project make you smile every day and make you proud. Moreover, our team strives to make the experience of conducting the project as enjoyable as the final product is beautiful.

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Our firm’s principals are:

Seth Penchansky, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Daniel E. Whisler, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Seth Penchansky, AIA, LEED AP BD+CDaniel E. Whisler, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C