The Legacy Continues
Now celebrating 70 years of architectural practice, Z-Group Architects was originally formed by Samuel J. Caudill FAIA in 1952 as the first licensed architect in Aspen, CO. Sam founded a philosophy of Aspen architecture that is “inspired by the outdoors” and honors nature and wildness through design that reflects the “same elements as the mountains which frame the valley”. This philosophy is still embedded into the foundation of our firm today.
The History Behind Z-Group Architects
We transitioned to Caudill Gustafson and Associates, Architects with the leadership of Jim "Gus" Gustafson in 1980. Additionally, we were known as Caudill Gustafson Ross from 1987-1993. Over the decades, the Caudill Gustafson name earned a reputation as an award-winning Western Colorado and International architecture firm.
In 2005, we went back to our roots by rebranding ourselves as you know us today, Z-Group Architects. Referencing the ZG Aspen / Pitkin County license plates of years past, we nod to the heritage this symbol represents and bridge the past with the present.
Today, Z-Group Architects continues to build on a legacy of innovative, forward thinking design practices with the leadership of Seth Hmielowski, Senior Principal, and Scott McHale and Randy Henrie as Principals.
Samuel J. Caudill
Sam was honored by the prestigious American Institute of Architects (AIA) for his lifetime of architectural achievement. Becoming an AIA fellow is considered the highest honor the organization offers. It is awarded to members who have made contributions of national significance and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession.
“Oklahoma-born, Kentucky-bred, Cornell-educated, Sam Caudill was working for Denver architect Tom Moore in January 1947 when he skied the newly opened Aspen Mountain. Five years later, in 1952, attracted by Aspen’s potential and his future wife, Joy Maxwell, Caudill moved there permanently, married, and started his own architectural firm. He had interrupted college to serve in the Army’s Office of Strategic Services, graduating in 1946 from Cornell, the only Ivy-League school to offer a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Caudill has the distinction of being Aspen’s first licensed architect to establish a practice (Benedict and Bayer were licensed by grandfathering, and Gordon Chadwick moved on). Although he started as a single practitioner, Rob Roy worked with him in the early years. Richard Lai joined Caudill’s firm from 1960-1965, when he left Aspen to teach architecture and planning at the University of Texas.” – Aspen Historical Society