Architects | Interior Designers
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“Winning a client’s trust is the best part of this job.”
A pivotal experience as a young boy ignited John’s passion for architecture. He was visiting a construction site with his father and saw a house framed out for the first time. John was fascinated by the process and how the crew came together to create a singular vision. This passion for people continues to drive him today, as he strategizes new directions for the firm and new ways to bring communities together through design.
On or off the clock, John is always on the lookout for new ideas. He finds inspiration in travel; visiting other countries and immersing himself in diverse cultures allows him to think about the many different ways that people solve the same fundamental problems. This approach was crucial to one of John’s favorite projects, the Anchorage Museum Expansion. John visited 18 museums in cities around the world while planning that project, blending those experiences to create something that truly represents and showcases Alaskan people.
Transparency and collaboration are the values that inform John’s work. He says the rich and rewarding company culture he has helped to build at MCG is his biggest accomplishment to date.
Anchorage Museum Expansion
John took a deep dive on this project and visited several museums for research and inspiration. The result created something that feels truly Alaskan. This project will always have a special place in John’s heart.
MCG Explore Design Culture
John believes that building a rich culture at the firm, contributing to local communities, and building strong relationships with clients is part of MCG’s legacy. He’s excited to lead the team into the future and discover new opportunities.
Indulge Your Curiosity
Outside the office, John loves to travel when he can, even if it’s just going to Iceland for a few days. He says exploring around obvious, fine, and nuanced details creates better results, which is why he encourages the team to be curious.
“The way a community views itself is very important.”
Michael has become known as one of Alaska’s most thoughtful designers. As one of the founders of MCG, he has played a pivotal role in many interesting projects over the years. He started work on his first project at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in 1978 and has since completed multiple challenging projects at the facility, building a long and fond relationship with the airport.
Michael’s lifelong passion for design wasn’t so much a choice as it was a tangible way to utilize the passion for creativity and curiosity that have been the hallmarks of his career.
These days he’s looking ahead at the company’s trajectory, looking to build on the legacy that he has helped create as the company continues to grow. He says the most satisfying projects that MCG does are the ones that have a significant positive impact on the people who use and interact with them. His extensive school work is motivated by a desire to create enduring spaces that inspire students to a lifelong love of learning.
A proud Alaskan, Michael enjoys exploring the state on his bike. He is also active in the community, participating in school planning networks and municipal planning committees.
Ted Stevens International Airport
Michael has been working on projects at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport for more than four decades. He’s proud to see how it’s evolved over the years.
Sense of Play
The sense of play Michael developed as a child has kept him excited and engaged for 67 years. He dropped out of college to ski for a bit and said that, after a while, architecture “just felt right.” He still loves it today.
New blood and fresh ideas are critical to a firm’s success. Michael is proud of the legacy and reputation he’s helped build at MCG Explore Design.
ASID, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP
- Director of Interior Design
- Firm Principal
- 18 years of experience
- Member of the American Society of Interior Designers
- Member of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional
- WELL Accredited Professional
- Sustainability Chair, NW Chapter, NEWH
“We have an atmosphere of curiosity and problem-solving”
Cara’s passion for design started young. As the daughter of a carpenter, she saw from an early age how concepts and ideas take shape, influencing the world around us. Even today, the smell of sawdust brings back the excitement she felt watching as a child.
As that passion turned into a career, Cara discovered that her true satisfaction as a designer came from seeing the positive impact her work could have on others. This spurned a commitment to sustainability, inclusivity, and health. She became a life-long student, advocate, and educator, dedicated to developing a greater understanding of how the built environment shapes each of us, both individually and as part of a larger society.
She’s often given the opportunity to put this commitment to the test at MCG Explore Design, serving as both the Director of Interior Design and as a firm principal. She is passionate about design that embraces the human experience and fosters regenerative lifestyles through healthy materials and biophilic design principles.
When she’s not in the office, Cara is a busy mom and an avid artist. She loves both painting and dancing, which allow her to explore space, volume, and color in different ways. When it’s time to recharge she hits the road, getting back to nature with her family to explore the great outdoors.
Auntie Marie Nicoli Elementary
Having grown up in a small town, this project reminded Cara of home and gave her a great sense of pride. She’s grateful for the opportunity to celebrate rural Alaska through design in such a meaningful way.
Rapid Industry Changes
Transparency and human health have been cast under the spotlight in recent years. Cara says awareness of how built environments should lead the design conversation.
Next Big Challenge
Cara loves people, and she enjoys cultivating hospitality. Someday she would love to own a lemon tree farm with a boutique restaurant.
“We’re adventurous, curious, and not afraid to try new things.”
Garret’s passion for architecture comes from people. He finds the rapport between architect and client – and the trust that grows out of that collaboration – to be extremely rewarding. It’s an experience that is made even better when the results of that collaboration win nation-wide recognition.
Raised with winters in Anchorage and summers spent drift netting in Naknek, Garrett is Alaskan to the core, a truth reflected in his passion for the craft of northern building design. He first became interested in design while in high school, through drawing and clothing design. He was attracted to the physical texture of materials and the way things connect. Today this extends to the acoustic properties of the materials he uses. He enjoys creating a holistic experience for his clients. He is currently working with a very demanding client, designing and building an addition to his own home.
Away from the office, he’s a committed clarinetist and an avid traveler. Garrett is active in the community as an artist and volunteer who has worked with the Alaska Design Forum and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art.
Centennial Hall, Sitka
“This is an exceptionally beautiful site,” Garrett says. “We had an engaged client, a passionate group of people, and a lot of functions in the building. It’s a great result.” This was the first big project that Garrett took on from start to finish.
Possibilities of Modeling
Architecture changes quickly. New types of modeling have allowed Garrett to see designs in 3D and be much more experiential, which ultimately leads to more creativity and better results for clients.
Getting in Treble
Garrett has always been an avid musician. He’s hoping to spend his 40s making more music. He wants to learn more, play with cool people, and push the boundaries of his skills on the clarinet.
AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
- Principal Architect
- 21 Years of Experience
Licensed in 15 States
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Former Founding Board of Directors, International Living Future Institute
- Certified by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
- USGBC LEED Accredited
- Member, American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)
- Member, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
“Design is an exercise in unpacking the understanding of what we don’t know.”
Jason is in charge of business development and leads MCG’s Aviation Studio. He also assists with housing, commercial and educational facilities as Director of Sustainability. He brings a strong commitment to sustainability to the firm and enjoys the beauty and connectedness of nature and structure. Jason lived and worked in Germany for six years, giving him great insight into alternative perspectives toward design. This experience showed him the value of human experience over cost and speed in designing long-lasting, healthy projects for people.
While working under Gunter Pfeifer, Jason studied “Cybernetics and Structure,” a relationship between the part and the whole of cybernetic nature. This expresses the structural peculiarities of all participating systems (physical, biological, and technical attributes) which relate to each other in a symbiotic relationship.
Serving the community both professionally and as a volunteer through various non-profit organizations, Jason dedicates his work to the development of sustainable building practices. His goal is to reconnect indigenous design with modern innovations, seeking cost-effective solutions, and creating healthy environments that are energy-efficient. The intent over time is to eliminate negative environmental impacts and build sustainable communities.
Alaska Airlines Maintenance & Operations Hangar at ANC
Jason’s a passionate “Million Miler,” so working on this state-of-the-art facility, providing critical infrastructure was a dream come true. His greatest memory about this project was a group of people who brought it together, including the client, the design team, and the incredible employees at Alaska Airlines
“There is no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Outside the Office
When away from work, Jason enjoys spending time with his 3 beloved children, of which being a father is his greatest achievement. He also enjoys playing sports and exploring the wilderness. He is a dedicated student of foreign languages, spends a lot of creative time in the kitchen, and is passionate about travel. If you can’t find him… he’s most likely on an airplane
“We don’t just talk about collaboration; we actually do it.”
For Evelyn, a career in architecture is not just a collection of buildings, but a series of relationships. Her passion for design started as a way to combine her love of both arts and sciences, and her clients are key to her creative process.
Evelyn studied art as an undergraduate and went to architecture school as an opportunity to think scientifically about the creative process. Her greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the physical build come together for the first time, and she is proud to have a body of work that positively impacts communities.
She says the biggest strength of MCG Explore Design is its culture of collaboration with team members, clients, engineers, and contractors, because it means ideas can come from all corners.
Active in the community, Evelyn is a longstanding board member of the Alaska Design Forum and a member and volunteer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Alaska Chapter. When not in the office, she enjoys spending time with her horse, Jenny.
C Terminal Concourse, TSAIA
This structure is one of the first that visitors to Alaska interact with when they arrive. Evelyn and the team decided to have gates only on one side of the facility, allowing a full view of the stunning mountains on the other side.
“Working with communities, when you can make a difference and make a community a better place to live, is really satisfying,” Evelyn says. “I see my career as a collection of experiences for people, not just buildings.”
The creative process isn’t just something you can push through. Evelyn says horseback riding forces her to take a mental break, and when her mind can wander freely, she can be much more creative.
ASID, CDT, WELL AP
- Interior Designer
- Firm Principal
- Project Manager
- 13 years of experience
- Member of the American Society of Interior Designers
- Member of the International Living Future Institute
- Awards: ASID One to Watch Scholar
- National Council for Interior Design Qualification
- WELL Accredited Professional
- Construction Document Technician
- Current Finance Director for ASID Alaska
“People are the heartbeat of their place.”
Melissa was born and raised in Alaska and her passion to create started at a young age. She frequently provided pop-up art shows in her childhood home, where her parents would purchase drawings of room scenes, homes and nature for steep price tags… of $0.10 to $0.50 per creation. Professionally, she continues to tap into her creativity and is inspired by all that nature offers as well as the power of place.
She lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with her husband Paul and two four-legged adopted fur-babies. Depending on the season, their adventures consist of fishing either from their wooden drift boat or through a hole in the ice. When stuck inside, Melissa paints with oil (her medium of choice), however, she also loves the organic and structured nature of mixed media artworks.
Alaska Regional Hospital
Melissa was born inside the walls of Alaska Regional Hospital, so her connection to the place is strong. She was proud to work as lead designer on the interior renovation of the sixth floor.
Traveling, Melissa says, unlocks ideas and inspiration. Seeing how other people tackle problems is a great way to challenge you to think about what you’d do in the same circumstances.
Volunteering is the best way to engage with the community. Melissa is on the board for ASID, she volunteers with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra and the American Cancer Society outside work.
- Associate Principal Architect
- Member of the American Institute of Architects
- Certified Construction Specifier
“Taking an idea through to bricks and mortar never gets old.”
John loves communicating with people. He enjoys meeting clients and understanding their vision, translating it onto paper, and then talking it through with the builder. The thrill of architecture, for him, comes from developing and fine-tuning ideas and turning them into a physical structure.
The biggest change over the course of his career has been the shift to computer tools in the design process. However, he feels that the fundamental job of the architect has remained the same; the transformation from brain to building is unchanged. He’s proud to have created a legacy of creativity, training younger architects as a professional advisor for United Way. He is also a committee member for the Alaska Association of Architects and the Construction Specifications Institute.
John lives in Alaska and loves the great outdoors. He’s skied across most of the western United States, and when he’s not on the slopes, he enjoys making furniture and picture frames.
MCG Explore Design
John has been at MCG Explore Design right from the start. He played a key role in hiring everyone and developing the firm’s culture. He’s enjoyed watching the firm grow and is proud of his legacy.
Alaska holds a special place in John’s heart. He says the mountains, the natural beauty and the challenges of building in extreme climates are a constant source of inspiration.
Registered in three states (WA, OR and AK), John is one of the first Certified Construction Specifiers in Alaska, which involves researching cost-effective and efficient solutions for each project.
“The trend towards greener materials and methods is exciting.”
Nick knew he wanted to become an architect from the age of eight, when he saw some blueprints of his grandparents’ house during a redesign. He was able to partly realize this goal in high school, when he interned with MCG Explore Design. He returned to MCG in 2010 after completing his graduate studies.
He’s now a key member of the team and is passionate about meeting, and exceeding, clients’ expectations. He’s working toward becoming a licensed architect and obtaining his LEED certification. He loves that the industry has moved towards sustainability – no longer as a differentiator, but a standard.
When not working or volunteering, Nick likes to spend his spare time enjoying the great Alaskan outdoors. He finds that hiking allows him to reflect on his work, allowing him to refine or come up with ideas that he can then take back to his designs.
Anchorage Museum Expansion
Nick’s favorite part of the museum is that it puts Alaskan culture front and center. It holds personal significance, because he’s passionate about education and volunteers there in his free time.
There’s nothing quite like working in Alaska. The environment is a constant source of inspiration in both work and play. Nick hopes to climb every significant summit in the Chugach Mountains around Anchorage.
Nick gives back to the community in lots of ways. He volunteers at the Association for Learning Environments, the Anchorage Museum, the Alaska Design Forum, and most importantly, as a proud Girl Scout dad.
Don has worked with MCG Explore Design for more than 30 years and brings a wealth of expertise to the team. He’s an experienced detailer and his ability to use computer modeling software has been invaluable in taking designs and translating them into detailed, accurate models. He is often the one who brings our creations to life.
Don stays at the leading edge of developments in the latest drafting software and developments. This depth of knowledge allows him to provide guidance and instruction to colleagues, so that MCG Explore Design remains up to date. He keeps the system running by overseeing all standards for the company.
- Revit Technician
- Construction Document Technician
“Working with quality people makes all the difference.”
Todd got into the design business because he wanted an office job that gave him the mental challenges he craved. He finds great satisfaction in providing high quality drafts to the project managers and supporting the success of the project. He finds the biggest change has been the shift from 2D to 3D modeling, which now allows a much more detailed understanding of how the individual part so the project will interact with one another.
Todd says MCG Explore Design’s greatest strength is its team, because they strive to look at each problem from as many angles as possible to ensure that the design is as successful as it can be.
When not working, he enjoys racing and tuning cars. He’s also a keen woodworker and crafts furniture and fittings for his home. One day, he hopes to cruise around Australia.
Greuning Middle School
Todd joined MCG Explore Design in November 2019, and Greuning Middle School was his first big project. There’s nothing like seeing something through to completion.
Moving from 2D to 3D has been fantastic, Todd says. It’s much better for conflict control – for example, making sure the placement of ducts and beams work together.
You can’t grow in isolation. Todd enjoys talking to technicians to learn how different people approach tasks and how MCG Explore Design could improve.
“Always look at a problem from different angles.”
Charles has been with MCG Explore Design for 22 years, and it is his hard work that keeps us on the cutting edge with the software we use. He loves increasing MCG Explore Design’s sustainability, combining his conscientious nature with his love of the outdoors and his and passion for efficiency.
When not enjoying himself fixing the company’s misbehaving systems, Chuck is spending his time in his community. Whether leading a Boy Scout troop, coaching baseball or volunteering at Alaska’s famous Iditarod sled dog race, he likes helping others.
Chuck is also a farmer and a keen traveler. He wants to see more of the world’s farms and cooperatives to expand his knowledge and gather fresh ideas to try out at home.
The best part about working at MCG Explore Design, Charles says, is fixing something that’s broken. That attitude means he’s definitely the right man for the job whenever computers are involved
A lot has changed over the years when it comes to renewable energy, which Charles finds fascinating. He’s always interested in finding ways we can do better.
Charles jokes that his biggest achievement so far is staying alive. Seriously though, he loves his family. He’s proud of his successful marriage and he loves being a father.
“Pushing boundaries is a part of our company culture.”
Rob loves the thrill of the chase, which works out well in his role as Marketing Director at MCG ExD. His passion for design started with an interest in cartooning and animation, which gradually morphed into graphic design, writing and marketing. The common theme has always been finding new and creative ways to communicate; moving from the idea phase and into a physical space. That’s where things get real.
When it comes to work, Rob leans heavily on the Adobe Creative Suite. He’s seen first hand how technology has become more accessible over the course of his career and feels like it’s been a great boon to the marketing world, increasing competition and making everything look more polished. Rob is passionate about his profession would love to someday write a book about the science of proposal design.
Outside of work, Rob is active in the community and is proud of the work he’s done in the past for the Providence Children’s Hospital. He enjoys spending time with family and working on remodel projects at home. He’s also an experienced and (somewhat) competitive snow carver.
There are things you can do outside work to hone your craft. “If you’re paying attention, you’re always picking up new ideas,” says Rob. “I’m a sponge for information and it’s important for me to stay in the loop.”
Rob takes his work seriously, but he’s a kid at heart. When his son became interested in model building, the two of them took a deep dive into Lego. They opened a small business featuring their own custom designed kits.
Terrible Twos and Threes
Rob has his hands full both in and out of the office, with a teenage son and two small toddlers at home. He loves his kids and is an active Dad, but he’s no stranger to the idea of “hunkering down” for survival.
Great architecture is grounded in great relationships.
Our architects make meaningful connections with our clients and learn their values, goals and cultures. This human-centered approach inspires us to truly bring their stories to life.
We know that good ideas can come from anywhere. An architect leads every project, but we work as a team so that anyone can suggest ideas to improve designs and solve problems.
Architecture isn’t static. Our team loves learning and sharing our ideas, whether that’s with our clients, our communities or our colleagues. We’re proudly affiliated with: