By Morgan Smith
Located in Girdwood, tucked at the base of Alyeska on Olympic Mt. Loop, is a group of wonderful, inspired, hardworking people ready to make your dreams come true. Led by Architect Marco Zaccaro, his team of six includes Jen Weits, Bridget Lembke, Chris Chalei, Ellen Twiname, Kalie Harrison and Edna Zaccaro, all of whom together can take a project big or small from start to finish or anything in-between, making them dream builders.
Started in 2003, Z Architects, created their first project, which was the United Methodist Church located here in Girdwood. The eye catching structure of that building grabbed a lot of people’s attention and from there the company took off. As of today, they have completed over 300 projects and are in route to soon losing count. The feature that really sets them apart is not only how they design but with what they build.
Z Architects specializes in remote projects, developing sites for eco-tourism, remote lodges and cabin complexes. This means that if you desire a house in the middle of nowhere, they are the team to talk to. They can help with everything from the permitting side of your build, to designing master plans that respond to the site, environment and the specific need of each client. Their services offered range from master planning, commercial design, residential design, interior design and sustainable building practices. Whatever you need done, they can help it come to fruition.
The other significant part of Z Architect builds is their awareness and use of unique spatial and physical requirements of Alaska’s landscape, light, remote locations, views, protected outdoor micro climates, northern design, thermal efficiency and durable materials. Z Architects tries to incorporate as many of these attributes into each build, making their creations not only strong long lasting structures but cohesive with nature.
Many people have probably enjoyed Z Architects’ work without even knowing it. There are several designs here in our hometown, enhancing the myriad breathtaking sights of where we live. If you have had dinner at Sakura Asian Bistro, taken a yoga class at the Resort, eaten in Seven Glaciers, walked around the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center across the bear boardwalk or in several of their buildings, you have gotten to experience Z Architects exemplary work.
The firm is not just local. They have projects happening all over the world thanks to the advancement of technology. Because of this feature, they can send fully interactive project designs to clients, who can then understand what Z Architects had in mind without having to present it to their clients in person, which makes their passionate builds a global commodity.
It was an unforgettable experience for me to sit and chat with the team, as they all shared their work with me, I understood why their projects turn out so wonderfully unique and awe inspiring. The passion for their projects was evident as they broke down how it all works. They shared photos of helicopter assisted construction projects they have done and my jaw dropped. The physical models that they make to help their clients understand the true potential of their dreams are inspirational yet looked tedious to create.
But the thing that got me the most was the technology they used to create interactive models of the projects for their clients. I watched as they showed me how they geo-locate a build site in a computer program, then build a model of the project so that you can see the sunlight at any point of the day, at anytime of the year, and see exactly what your project would look like. Watching as they stripped away layers to look inside the design, I could see how impressive their work was. The detail it takes to create a client’s dream but to make it come to life exactly as the client dreamt it up is enthralling.
I could have listened for hours as they regaled me with builds that were so magnanimous that it was hard to fathom, but I knew they needed to get back to work. I am so elated that such a passionate group of dreamers lives in Girdwood. We all benefit from their work as it enhances our daily lives, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.