Zach Rawling

Zach Rawling was born at the Scottsdale Memorial Hospital and resided with his family in the area off 36th Street and Medlock from the age of 6 months until he left for college at 18. He attended All Saints’ Episcopal Day School and Brophy College Preparatory, before heading to the University of Virginia for college. He later studied law in Los Angeles at UCLA.

John and Katharine Rawling, Zach’s parents, grew up in a small town in North Carolina and married right after graduating college. Katharine taught at an elementary school in Virginia to help pay for John’s law school tuition.

Katharine grew up with a subscription to Arizona Highways and took a road trip West with her family in high school, where she fell in love with the Arizona desert.

Zach’s parents moved to Scottsdale as soon as his father finished law school in 1973. He was an attorney at Fennemore Craig for over 20 years before he accepted a job from one of his earliest clients. He then became president of a Tempe-based aerospace company, where he worked for the last 15 years of his career.

His mother began architectural school at ASU in the 1970s, but stopped to raise Zach and his sister, Maggie.

John Rawling died in 2009 at age 60, within a year of retiring. In addition to spending time with his family in his retirement, he hoped to teach American History at either a high school or college and planned to donate resources to benefit people in his chosen hometown of Phoenix.  

After attending law school, Zach applied as clerk to the courts in 22 states, eventually receiving a call from Las Vegas. He served as clerk in Las Vegas for one year and just before returning to Los Angeles to practice law, had an epiphany.

“I decided building and architecture was my true love,” said Zach.

Zach contacted a friend from college who was a civil engineer working for a commercial contractor on the East Coast.

“I said, ‘Lets try custom homebuilding.’”

The friends began a two-person custom homebuilding company.

After years of exploring architecture across the country with his mother, as well as riding his bike and peeking over the wall of the David and Gladys Wright home as a young boy, Zach knew the style of architecture around which he wanted to base his company.

After much research, Zach discovered the work of John Lautner and Wallace Cunningham, both Southern California architects and students of Taliesin. Lautner actually apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright.

The two men were known for their dramatic use of concrete, steel, glass and ramps.

“The first chance I got to call and hire architects while building homes, I called Wallace Cunningham,” said Zach.

One evening, in the middle of two projects in Las Vegas, Wallace and Zach met for a business dinner. Wallace explained that an Act of Demolition permit had been filed for the David and Gladys Wright home.

“I finished the dinner, got on the phone with my mom and told her I was flying to Phoenix in the morning,” said Zach. “I asked her to please call the broker of the home and schedule a tour as soon as possible.”

Within 24 hours of that dinner, the fate of the David and Gladys Wright home changed.

“We stepped on the property for the first time, turned the corner on the ramp, saw the shot of the mountain and there was absolutely no question we wanted this project,” said Zach.

After 6 1/2 years in Las Vegas, Zach packed up to return to his hometown.

“I moved back to Phoenix to oversee the Wright House project and have been an Arcadia resident for the last year and a half,” said Zach. “My mom is remodeling a house near Arcadia and will also be a full-time resident here.”

For Katharine, opening the David and Gladys Wright House as an educational and cultural space for children and families throughout Phoenix and the world is an appropriate way to honor the memory of her husband. She also believes it’s a way to celebrate his love for his family, the city of Phoenix and the history of American architecture.

For Zach, the entire process is about learning, growing and doing something that he loves.

“It has been a dream come true,” said Zach.