Back in June, we introduced the Elsy Studios Inspires Series. In August, we featured Associate Cathy Loftus, and this month we are excited to introduce you to Sarah Zales.

Sarah has a great understanding of and sensitivity to our clients and her coworkers alike. She is a wonderful leader that has an innate ability to motivate others to do their best work. She is a devoted daughter, wife, mother and Architect. Sarah truly cares about her clients, a trait which is reflected in the quality of her work.

Here’s a little bit more about Sarah:

Background: Sarah’s background includes architecture and interior design as well as extensive experience with building codes (gained from her time as a plans examiner with Colorado Code Consulting and the City of Greenwood Village). Few designers can match her code knowledge, which allows Sarah to quickly troubleshoot early on in a design process, saving clients time and money. Her highly communicative, team-centric approach is another driving factor in the longevity of her working relationships with clients including CH2M HILL and XTO Energy.

Current projects:  Sarah has a diverse client base that includes large corporations as well as smaller specialty projects. Some of her current projects include: Merchant & Gould, XTO Energy, Life Line and Inspirato.

Additionally, Sarah has a “waste not, want not” mentality that’s led to the salvaging and donation of materials such as carpet, tile, cabinets, furniture and light fixtures to charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Once donated, Habitat sells the materials in their ReStore to raise money for their construction projects.

“In our line of work there is a lot demolition waste,” Sarah says. “By discussing this opportunity with the client and contractor early on in the project, we are able to save some materials from a direct trip to the landfill. It takes a bit of coordination and negotiation, but it’s definitely worth the reward.”

Industry Kudos:

Over the past two years Sarah has not only been a driving force in the success and growth of Elsy as a firm, she has also been busy in her professional development and personal life. The mother of one recently completed her seventh and final architecture licensing examination through the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB). For reference, in 1992, when Sarah began her undergraduate studies in architecture, less than 15 percent NCARB Record applicants were women.  This number has steadily increased throughout her career, and is now approximately 40 percent.

Favorite design feature/current trend: Sarah says she likes the introduction of residential design elements in the corporate office spaces. “From a management perspective, it just makes sense,” Sarah says. “People are more likely to be happy coming to work (even working longer hours) if the work environment feels like a home. I think this trend is here to stay. Last decade, people enjoyed working in a coffee shop, so now the coffee shop feel is being integrated into the workplace. Dynamics of the workplace are evolving and the design needs to reflect this. Do you occasionally work from home? Do you feel at home at work? It works both ways.”

What she’s reading:  With a toddler in the house, time for grown-up books is scarce. During her commute from Castle Pines to our office in LoDo, Sarah listens to audio books (she recommends Devil in the White City both for the story and the history of Chicago’s architecture). Additionally, one of the ways Sarah keeps up on industry trends is by reading WorkDesign Magazine. Here are two articles she recommends checking out:

  • It’s a virtual world. Is the workplace obsolete? (Spoiler: Nope, but we need to reexamine the role of the workplace and how people work today.)
  • How to maintain a collaborative environment in times of company growth

Be sure to check back next week when we’ll share Sarah’s Top Five Workspace Design Tips!