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Shay Zak
Principal, Zak Architecture

B.Arch, Syracuse University, 1984; M.Arch, Harvard GSD, 1986

James (Shay) Zak ’85 was born and raised in Mill Valley, California. He graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1984 and was awarded the Luther Gifford Prize, the Dean’s Citation for Excellence and the Wiedersum Traveling Fellowship. While at Syracuse he interned with the architectural firm of Skidmore Ownings and Merrill at their San Francisco, New York, Boston and Chicago offices and spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, with a principal focus on Renaissance Architecture and Architects, including Palladio, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.

In 1986, he graduated with a Masters Degree in Architecture, with Commendation, from the Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. His teachers included William Pederson, a partner at Kohn Pederson Fox and Rafael Moneo, Pritztker Prize recipient and former chairman of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, School of Architecture. While at Harvard he was a teaching assistant to Moneo for ‘Design Theories in Architecture’ and an ‘Advanced Option Design Studio’. Mr. Zak also worked in Moneo’s Cambridge Studio to assist with the preparation of two international competition entries.

From 1986 to 1989 Mr. Zak was a Project Designer at the San Francisco office of Skidmore Owings and Merrill where he was Project Designer on a twin tower high-rise office project in Los Angeles and a single-family residence in Belvedere, California. In 1990 he co-founded Eklund and Zak, Architecture and Planning, a firm that focused on multi-family residential, Commercial and Recreational projects, including the 120,000 square foot Autodesk Headquarters Office Building in San Rafael, California and the award winning Edgewood Tahoe Golf Clubhouse and Restaurant at Lake Tahoe.

In 1996 he established Zak Architecture to focus on private residential architecture. Zak Architecture houses have been featured in several publications including Architectural Digest, California Home and Design, New York Times, Small Firms Great Projects and Hawaii, a Sense of Place. Mr. Zak is licensed to practice architecture in several states, he is NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) certified, he is a member of the AIA (American Institute of Architects), and is currently serving as a Board Member for the Syracuse University School of Architecture Advisory Board.