Meet the Team is a series of interviews featuring the various professionals on our project team – both in-front and behind-the-scenes – who regularly provide valuable input, countless design iterations, environmental surveys and much more. Without these talented individuals, we would not be where we are today in realizing the possibilities of The Bay Park.
Zach joined The Bay team when the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization selected Sasaki as the project’s master planning design firm in 2016. Zach has been integral in every step of the master planning process, from initial design meetings to community engagement events and more. We interviewed Zach to learn a bit more about his background, his love for public parks and what excited him about the future of The Bay.
Can you share a bit more about your background, experience and personal story?
“I knew most of my life that I wanted to be an engineer, but I’ve also always sought out diversity in my immediate communities. I chose Tufts University because of its great engineering program and because it had an incredibly strong liberal arts program. I wanted to surround myself with not just engineers, but those who were thinking about the world in much different ways. Similarly, Sasaki has opened my eyes to a diversity of perspective and design approach that I never would have found at a larger engineering firm.
At Sasaki, I’ve been fortunate to work on some of the most complex waterfront parks projects across the country. From the Chicago Riverwalk to a project currently out to bid in Los Angeles to the amazing opportunities with The Bay, I’ve been awarded great opportunities to think creatively about engineering solutions within significant design opportunities.”
What is your favorite park and your contribution or role in development? What were some important design elements and the biggest challenges you faced?
“Having experienced first-hand what the Wilmington Waterfront Park in Los Angeles meant for that community, I’d say it lives in the top tier of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on. The park provides so many benefits to that community — converting a brownfield to a park space; offering much needed open space for community health and wellness; and providing places for play, gathering and socializing — all within the context of a heavily industrialized area of Los Angeles. It has been embraced and loved by the community from day one.
Additionally, the Chicago Riverwalk offered a host of engineering challenges around building within floodable landscapes, while navigating the intricacies of tight urban conditions, that will inform my work for the remainder of my career. For example, much of the project was constructed from barges situated in the Chicago River. And, thinking through the flood resilience of each element of the project yielded a set of details that went well beyond ‘typical standards’ and pushed us toward more robust solutions within the dynamic riverfront.”
What excites you about The Bay Park design/plan, process, and team? What is your favorite and most rewarding part of the work?
“The Bay’s guiding principles speak of resilience, access, inclusiveness, and sustainability all within an ‘iconic public destination.’ For me, the project captures all that is exciting about planning and designing great waterfront destinations. From day one, project leadership has pushed our team to think strategically about how to make this a great park for the entire region, all within the context of changing climates and sea level rise. This project will be an educational tool for the community and will raise the bar for ecological and environmentally-sensitive waterfront park design.
The energy brought by the community during the master planning process was incredibly inspiring to me. People brought such passion and positivity to thinking through how this park can respond and adapt to sea level rise. It was a refreshing process and one that yielded an approach to the environmental components of the project representing the voices of many Sarasotans.
I’m also honored to be a part of such a great team. The client group, the amazing array of consultants, and the support from the City – we have the right expertise to answer any question, all of whom bring a collaborative approach to this amazing opportunity for Sarasota.”