zoka zola architecture + urban design    1737 west ohio street   chicago IL 60622    t 312 491 9431    f 312 491 9432    info@zokazola.com

Zoka Zola was born in Rijeka, Croatia.

Zola holds a Master of Architecture degree from University at Zagreb and a Master degree from the Division of Humanities at the University of Chicago.

Zola is a licensed architect in Illinois, USA, UK and Croatia.

After completing her studies of architecture at the University of Zagreb, she moved to Rome and worked for two years at the studios of Prof. De Feo, Prof. Francesco Cellini and Prof. Paolo Portoghesi.  She left Rome to study at The Architectural Association in London. After apprenticing at a number of well-known architectural studios, Zola established her own studio in London designing small public projects and restaurants, while teaching as Senior Lecturer at the Oxford Brookes University at Oxford and as Unit Master at the Architectural Association in London. In 1997, Zola moved to Chicago where she first realized the Pfanner House. The house won the Home of the Year Award as the best house in North America by Architecture magazine and was included in “American Masterworks - Houses of the 20th and 21st centuries” by Kenneth Frampton as one of 43 houses built in USA in the last 140 years. Her practice’s other work includes three zero energy houses (one in Chicago and two in Kuala Lumpur), a solar tower in Chicago, a Web 2.0 open source web site, an urban plan for the entire city of Chicago, a number of prototypes for residential and educational buildings, a zero-energy training center with hostel in South China, and most recently the realization of a winning competition proposal for affordable housing in Croatia. In Chicago, Zola taught architecture at The School of the Art Institute and the University of Illinois in Chicago, and she is currently teaching at the Illinois institute of Technology. Zola’s work is published and exhibited in numerous venues and publications on five continents.zoka zola
Photographer: Varakan Ten Tipprapa


professional affiliations

Architect licensed in Illinois USA, UK and European Union, and Croatia

NCARB Certified (eligible for licenses throughout USA)

Member of American Institute of Architects (AIA)

AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) 2007-2008

Member of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

RIBA-USA Mid-West Chapter
chairwoman 1999-2009

LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design) Accredited Professional

Chicago Energy Conservation Certified Professional

Metcalf Internship Program, University of Chicago

comments from clients

--"Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design
--was a pleasure to work with: good listeners
--who are observant, very creative,
--principled in method, and dependable."
Stephen Ostrander, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

--"...I wanted to thank you for the fabulous
--work you did on our Sheridan Road project.
--We were very impressed."
Courtney Owen, Rogers Park Business Alliance

--"Their work was inspiring, their
--presentations to the client were effective,
--and their attitude highly professional. ...It is
--worth noting that the office staff at Zoka
--Zola Architecture + Urban Design is very
--professional, easy to work with and
--exhibiting traits of a highly effective design
Vuk Vujovic, Legat Architects

--"Zoka listened carefully to my and my
--husband's needs and desires, offering
--solutions that were so much more then we
--expected. ...Throughout the process they
--anticipated all necessary steps,
--coordinating the entire team seamlessly
--and effectively and conducted throughout
--construction examinations of all the work
--with a scroupulous attention to detail. Their
--investment and interest in bringing together
--all elements of the project seemed
--effortless from their side, making the
--process effortless and pleasurable for us,
--as their clients."
Laura Letinsky,Professor at University of Chicago

--"Through Zoka's patience and insight she
--achieved a spectacular design solution
--within a limited budget. She worked
--extremely well within the exhibition team,
--taking on board practical problems, yet
--keeping her vision clear, simple and
--striking... Her quiet confidence and
--assured calm ensured a much praised end
--result. The secret of her success was
--attention to detail, precise time and
--materials management, direct and frequent
--communication and clear expression of
--concept. These qualities are topped with a
--wry sense of humor."

Dr Helen Clifford, curator of the 20th Century Silver exhibition

--"Zoka's innovative and elegant solution
--fulfilled a very exacting brief beautifully.
--Her professionalism ensured both that the
--project was completed on budget and
--within very tight schedule, and that her
--artistic vision was maintained, whilst
--achieving the rigorous standards of
--security and environmental control for the

Linda Theophilus, Head of the Exhibitions and Collection at the Crafts Council


Click for Detail
1737 w ohio street  chicago   IL  60622
t 312 491 9431
e info@zokazola.com

If you wish to join us
Please send five to twenty pages (via e-mail, pdf format, not to exceed 8MB) illustrating a range of your work, including your resume and references to

Attn: Dorothea Schulz

Your experience in our office will qualify as an internship for the EU licenses or IDP in USA.

Web Design Credits:
Information Design: Conrad Newman
Interaction and Visual Design: Conrad Newman, Rick Hoobler, Zoka Zola, Tanja Reiche, Manuela Koelke
Web Development: Josh Campbell

--""This beautiful, authoritative book celebrates great American residential
--"design. Its wide-ranging content highlights the most important works by
--"the influential architects of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
--"Presented are approximately forty-five icons of modern architecture….
--"First published in 1995, this expanded and updated edition includes twelve
--"important additions to the canon. Works by a new generation of influential
--"architects include Zoka Zola’s award-winning Pfanner House…. It is the
--"ultimate compendium of great American house design.”
Editorial Review, American Masterworks: Houses of the 20th and 21st Century by Kenneth Frampton

--""The Pfanner House is a modern commentary upon the rich legacy of
--"Chicago architecture."
Gwendolyn Wright, Professor at Colombia University

--""new powerful work"
--""...helps define what it means to be "at home" in our complicated world
- a delightful windfall...";
--"objective of our selection is to communicate to the public what
--architecture - good architecture - is about.
--"startlingly different study in North American domestic condition"
--"[It] elevates our discourse about the places where we live"
--"[It] challenges our preconceptions and prejudices about the home, yet [it
--is] so remarkably budget conscious product that can seduce a broad
--consuming public... showing how high design breeds high value."
Jury of Home of the Year Award 2003 (of North America)

--""The building [award winning Raflessia House, in Kuala Lumpur] is unique
--in that it is an answer to the climate conditions, much like the traditional
--Kampong House of Malaysia, but it also takes sustainable design into the
--21st century and contributes to the legacy of architecture."
The New York Times

--""There were real delights; however perhaps none greater than Croatian-
--"born, London educated Zoka Zola's first building, the Pfanner House,
--"where she and her family live in Chicago. Subtle, sophisticated and
--"wonderfully scaled."
The Sunday Times, (UK)

"When I think of Croatia, I think of fantastic Architect Zoka Zola who does great things in Chicago."
Angela Brady, President of RIBA


jutarnji list, (Croatia) August 2013

Interview with RIBA President Angela Brady

e-architect (UK) June 28th, 2013

eVolo (USA) January 10th, 2013

e-architect (UK) January 4th, 2013

Archipendium 2013 - architecture, (Germany/ International) November 2012

link to order from archipendium

INA - International New Architecture, (China) August 2012

Chicago Reader, (USA) December 2011

Summa+, (Spain) October 2011

Chicago Architect, (USA) August 2011

a+a, (Mexico) August/September 2011

Domus China, (China), May 2011

Brendan McGetrick's interview with Zoka Zola

link to article in English on domusweb.it

CS Interiors, (USA) Spring 2011

a+a, (Mexico) April/ May 2011

Wallpaper*, (UK), July 2010

link to wallpaper Architects Directory 2010

Growing Urban Habitats, (USA), 2009
seeking a new housing development model

link to william stout books

Chicago Architect, October, 2009

--contemporary house plans go online

Architecture Now! Green Architecture
June 2009


link to amazon

Chicago Tribune, May 31, 2009

Blueprints with a sustainable vision

Chicago Magazine, (Chicago), May 2009

Architecture Plus, issue 21, (international) 2009

American Masterworks
Houses of the Twentieth & Twenty-first Centuries
Oct 2008

link to amazon

Chicago Tribune Magazine, (USA), October 19, 2008

Vecernji list, (Croatia), October 15, 2008

Novi List, (Croatia), September 1, 2008

Novi List, (Croatia), August 19, 2008

Tasarim, (Turkey), Issue 182/June 2008

Live/Work, Deborah K. Dietsch, 2008

link to amazon

Pol Oxygen, (Australia), Issue 26/2008

Mark, (Amsterdam), April/May 2008

The New York Times, (USA national paper), April 6th 2008

Chicago Life

Domino, (USA), March 2008

Design + Architecture, (Singapore), February 2008

Dwell, (USA), November 2007

International Houses Atlas, Casey C.M. Mathewson, 2007

The New 100 Houses x 100 Architects, Robyn Beaver, 2007

link to amazon

Architectural Record, (USA), March 2007

Business POV - video stories about Chicago innovators
5 minute video

World Changing, a users guide for the 21st century, Abrams, New York
with a foreword by Al Gore, November 2006

2 page feature

link to amazon

Product News, (USA) July/August 2006
Great Chicago Places & Spaces, May 2006

2A Architecture and Art, (Dubai), forthcoming

Contemporary Design in Detail: Sustaianable Environments, (USA), forthcoming

Archiworld, (Korea), April 2006

Interior Digest, (Russia), May 2006

Diseno Interior, (Spain), April 2006

Chicago Home, (USA), Spring 2006

"Practical Visionary"

"You want a house that is a work of art, that expresses an opinion about space, home, privacy, and intimacy. You also want it to accommodate your child, your dog, your office, and your heating budget. Go to Zoka Zola."

25 Houses, Harper Collins, 2005

link to amazon

Hauser, (Germany), November 2005


Crain's Chicago Business, September 26th 2005

--Chicago area's 20 Coolest Homes

Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 2005: Metal

--Zoka Zola in conversation with Helen Clifford
--Creative Relationships: An Architect's Point of View

Chicago Reader, Section: Our Town, September 16th 2005

--"The two make a cute couple - though he is about a hundred years older
--than she is. (Typical)"

teNeues, CHICAGO architecture & design guide

link to amazon

Fox TV Chicago News - 9.00pm - June 23rd 2005

--News report about the Zero Energy Home

Oris Ideja, (Croatia, Austria), 2005

--Excerpt from Zoka's sketchbook as part of a traveling exhibition.

Architecture, (USA), May 2005

--The Open House and the Three-Week Utopia
--"Architects from emerging firms discuss the promises and perils of
--design leadership - and see light at the end of the tunnel."

Focus, (USA), May 2005

Architecture, (USA), April 2005

The Sunday Times, (UK), November 2004
--"There were real delights; however perhaps non greater than Croatian-
--born, London educated Zoka Zola's first building; the Pfanner House;
--where she and her family live in Chicago. Subtle, sophisticated and
--wonderfully scaled, it was named House of the Year in North America in

Detail, (China), October 2004

Casabella, (Italy), October 2004

Chicago Tribune, (USA national Paper), August 1st 2004
Quoted in article about solar energy

RIBA Journal, (UK), August 2004
Photos of ZZ at RIBA's trip to China

RIBA Journal, (UK), July 2004
Photo of ZZ as part of RIBA-China Delegation

Oris, (Croatia), July 2004

--"... this architecture as safeguard of our critical conscience."

Architecture, (USA), June 2004
"On the Boards" section, Mixed Use Development

Chicago Tribune, (USA national paper), December 2003 holiday issue
Sunday paper

--"[the Pfanner House is] a modern commentary upon the rich legacy of
--Chicago architecture"

Architecture, (USA), 2003
Pfanner House won the Home of the Year 2003 Award (of North America) by Architecture magazine

RIBA Journal, (UK), December 2003

Architecture, (USA), November 2003

recent and forthcoming lectures0

"Taking the Next Step", panel discussion at University of Chicago, (USA), January 7th 2012

The Freedom of the City: Models of Urban Engagement & Creativity in the 21st Century, conference at SMU Meadows School of the Arts Dallas, (USA) April 9th 2011

Greenbuild Chicago 2010, International Forum Opening Plenary: Sustainable Architecture in Latin America, Chicago (USA), November 16th 2010

Kent University, (USA), February 19th 2009

"ECOGRAM: The Sustainability Question"; conference at Columbia University, (USA), October 25th 2008

Women in Design, Kansas City, (USA), October 15th 2008

Energy Day at Northwestern University, (USA), May 19th 2007

Chicago Architecture Foundation, (USA), October 10th 2006

American Institute of Architects, (USA), July 18th 2006

Chicago Center for Green Technology, (USA), April 15th 2006

Chicago Center for Green Technology, (USA), May 14th 2005

“Making of the Zero Energy House in Chicago”; Chicago Expo at McCormick Center: April 24th 2005

Green Pavillion at the Chicago Home Expo, (USA), April 23rd 2005

Aubor University, Rural Studio, (USA), February 28th 2005

Zhengzhou DiverseCity Forum, (China) May 20th 2004

Beijing International Forum, (China) May 18th 2004

The Berlage Institute, (Neatherlands), May 8th 2003

Barcelona School of Architecture, (Spain), April 2nd 2003

The School at the Art Institiute at Chicago, (USA), March 13th 2003

Chicago Architectural Club, (USA), December 17th 2002


Beijing DiverseCity Exhibition Finalists, (China), May 2004

Zhengzhou DiverseCity Exhibition Finalist, (China) May 20th 2004

Burnham Prize Finalist, Chicago, (USA), May 2004

Exhibition Organizer / Curator0

Co-coordinated DiverseCity Exhibition at the AIA Convention in Chicago, June 2004


Work exhibited as part of Wonderland Exhibition:


Work exhibited as part of DiverseCity Exhibition:


Cardiff: December 2006

Manchester: November 2006

Cambridge: November 2006

Birmingham: October 2006

Manchester: September 2006

Oxford: June 2006

Newcastle: April 2006

Athens: November 2005

Paris: October 2005

Istanbul: July 2005

Brussels: May 2005

Dublin: November 2004 – January 2005

Chicago: AIA Convention, June 2004

Beijing + Zhengzhou: May 2004

Auckland: March 2004

Sydney: March 2004

AIA Chapter office in Los Angeles (USA) March - September 2004

Beijing Soho Development (China), May - June 2004

Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Sydney, March - April 2004

University of Auckland, Auckland, (New Zealand) Feb. - Mar. 2004

Los Angeles, British Consulate General, January - February 2004

Boston: Build Boston, (USA), November 2003

London – Launch: RIBA, October 2003


Chicago: I-Space Gallery CAC show; February 2005

©Zoka Zola 2005