Tai Ziola

Top 40 Under 40 2012

Photography Pedersen

Age: 32

Job Title: Principal, ziola newstudio architecture

Why She’s Top 40: Whether she’s putting in hours at her company studio or in the community as a volunteer, dedication is job one.

Key To Success: “I feel incredibly motivated by how Edmonton could be in the future.”

Leaving the beaches of Vancouver for the Alberta capital was a no-brainer for Edmonton native Tai Ziola.

“I wanted to do some sustainable community development in Edmonton and figured that if I didn’t start on it, somebody else would,” says Ziola, who got her master’s in architecture from the University of British Columbia in 2008.

Founding ziola newstudio architecture later that year with father Kim and business partner Tyler Dixon furthered her pursuit of that dream. So far, her idyllic vision of districts within walking distances of workplaces, replete with a variety of housing that deviates from the cookie-cutter mentality of carbon-copy housing is a work in progress.

“I think the obstacle here is that people are already used to what we already have,” says Ziola. “It’s going to take a visionary architect to try models that haven’t been tested here before, and it’s a bit of a risk to do that.”

To that end, she poured a lot of passion into designing the Ultima Tower, a 32-storey structure combining condominiums and commercial businesses being built downtown. Constructed with LEED-certified sustainability standards in mind, the interiors will include more organic, durable materials such as solid wood for cabinets and granite for counter tops.

“That one has been really amazing because of the potential to reshape the skyline,” says Ziola. “It’s going to be very sleek and can potentially reinvigorate 103rd Street.”

She’s also proud of the work her company¬† did with local not-for-profit shelter society Wings of Providence in creating a 30-unit, affordable housing facility for women and children in crisis, an endeavour that reflects her own beliefs in giving back.

And she dedicates her time to Sustainable Food Edmonton and was on the steering committee of the 2011 Edmonton Urban Design Awards.

“Volunteering lets me see the city in a different light.

“It’s really important to interact with people and connect with what a lot of them are going through.”

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