1888 Press Release - New facility is SZ Build's latest Architect-led Design-Build project in Mercer Island.
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA - Architect Suzanne Zahr and SZ Build, Inc. announced the completion of construction for Caruccio’s, their latest Architect-Led Design-Build project and the region’s newest culinary event center with a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen and multimedia broadcasting capabilities located at 2441 76th Avenue SE, Suite 100, Mercer Island, WA.
SZ Build, Inc. and Suzanne Zahr provided design and construction, marketing and branding services for Caruccio's, a venue poised to be the go-to place where food professionals may star in their own cooking shows or host wine and movie nights, televised cooking classes, product launches and private events.
Realized from beginning to end by the efforts of Zahr and her team, Caruccio’s is their latest project that showcases their deep involvement in all aspects of the business. Caruccio’s is an excellent example of an Architect-led Design-Build effort, including the development of their brand identity and website. “This flexible, versatile venue will offer a sense of community, nostalgia, and memory making through its elegant but approachable finishes, lighting, and furnishings,” said Zahr. “Caruccio’s is designed to be a place to ‘Learn. Mingle. Share.’”
The centerpiece of the two-level, 2,350 square foot event center is the elegant and modernized demonstration kitchen featuring a 21-foot long curved countertop with twelve burners and huge overhead screens allowing attendees to view all the action. Street-facing windows provide a warm ambiance for the main level, with seating for up to 40 diners (or standing room for 80 guests). Overlooking the main level is a 460 square foot mezzanine furnished with a large meeting table and a fireplace. This beautiful venue would have never come to be without Zahr's guidance and design team's efforts.
Zahr takes a symbiotic approach to designing and building creative environments in close collaboration with her clientele. She draws upon a rich background of experience in architecture, construction, real estate, art, and marketing. She guides her clients through the entire project life cycle to make their dream into a reality – from feasibility studies, lease negotiations, business planning, and brand identity development, to designing and building a venue with her design-build firm.
After 20 years of being an architect, Zahr decided to create SZ Build, Inc., to work in sync with her Design firm, Suzanne Zahr Inc. Zahr’s purpose for starting a Design-led, Design-Build firm is to bring the Master Builder methodology back to the industry, where the Architect takes on full ownership and authority for their design and the realization of it. By handling both the design and construction, there is less finger-pointing and the planning, decisions, and problem-solving can all be handled in-house.
For the Owner, working with Zahr means having the peace of mind and the convenience of an all-inclusive project planning experience. The Owner can save time and money, have one singular point of contact, fewer change orders, and a reduced risk of liability so the process becomes more streamlined.
Zahr provides consistency to make sure the dream is realized in each step of the process. “Suzanne has a talented team working for her, and it’s been wonderful having her as the one point of final contact,” Owner Lisa Caruccio explained. “We have always had an understanding of my vision and what I want, and [we have] great communication, and she’s always easy to reach, which means a lot to me.”
Creating the space was a relatively complex project which offered an opportunity to use energy-efficient lighting and equipment, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, No-VOC paints, high-recycled content flooring, composite quartz counters (green factor) and high-efficiency HVAC units to lower the venue's environmental footprint.
Completing the six-month build, including almost three months of ‘Landlord Work,’ involved bringing in new utilities (Gas & Electric), new HVAC, tying waste drains to lines outside of the premises, routing a Type 1 Hood and Make-up Air Unit and ducting to the roof. The venue is also a slab-on-grade unit, which necessitated taking out a portion of the concrete slab to route utilities below the slab.
According to Zahr, being a first-generation tenant improvement offered both challenges and opportunities. "Because this ‘cold grey shell’ was not already fitted with electrical panels, HVAC systems and other plug-and-play utilities, the owners along with their Design/Build team were able to create the Culinary Event Center that fit their needs like a glove."
Another opportunity was found in building a Mezzanine Level above the back-of-house preparation area and restrooms below, "We’ve maximized the usability of the venue. We added vertical baffles to attenuate the acoustics during larger gatherings and film presentations. Flexibility is also gained by implementing a programming Lighting Control Panel to set just the right mood for each unique event," said Zahr.
For an enhanced experience during events, the audio and video equipment are also synchronized with the window shading and film-wall curtain for ease of use and a touch of drama. Zahr's Design-Build methodology allowed the clients to make informed decisions that enhanced their evolving business model before and during construction. In addition the team developed Caruccio's logo, brand guidelines and website, so that their physical venue aligned seamlessly with their marketing collateral.
Caruccio shared a final comment about how satisfied she is with the project. “I knew [Suzanne] would honor my dream and make my investment so worth it. And she has continually proven this to be the case.”
Learn more about the Caruccio’s project:
SZ Build, Inc. and Suzanne Zahr, Inc. are operated by Suzanne Zahr the owner and creator of an Architect-led, Design-Build practice on Mercer Island. Zahr's firm takes a symbiotic approach to designing and building creative environments as she empowers her team to bring creativity and ingenuity to life in close collaboration with residential, corporate, and retail clientele.
Media Contact: nancy.treder ( @ ) gmail dot com or 206-380-4000 dot