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25 Years of MGAC: Luxury Living

MGAC was founded in 1996 with three goals: to do the most interesting and challenging work, to have fun working together, and to build a successful business in the process. Twenty-five years later, we have met these goals and more. At this milestone moment, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of our most memorable projects—our favorite missions made real. Today, join us as we revisit the evolution of our Luxury Living projects.

Design and construction projects are, by definition, a quest for the optimum relationship of four variables: time, money, labor, and resources. Imagine for a moment you had unbounded capital and access to whatever labor and materials required for your project, but still find yourself frustrated by continuously late and misguided project outcomes. That frustration—a relatively common one—is what led MGAC to the Luxury Living sector and initiated ongoing work aimed at helping high-net-worth families realize their building ambitions.

MGAC’s work in this space started 15 years ago when we were contacted by the family office of a global business leader. In their professional lives, new products made world headlines, and were released at precisely the moment promised to great fanfare and press. In their private lives, despite every resource available, personal projects remained a source of frustration. Our team was commissioned to bring our commercial project management skills and expertise to oversee and ensure the delivery of several family construction projects.

This growing work ultimately led to the establishment of our Seattle office in 2006. As with many of our other projects, our involvement in managing this one family’s facility design and construction needs was significant. Every MGAC employee at the time was dedicated to this project that consisted of renovating not only their main residence, but also weekend getaway homes, and remote properties.

At MGAC, our growth has always stemmed from our reputation and through word-of-mouth. As it happens, one family speaks to the next, and our Seattle Luxury Living practice soon grew to serve another family and spread geographically from the Midwest to the East Coast with significant projects in Chicago, New York, New England, and Washington, DC.

Our team has never shied away from a challenge, and the promise of a challenge comes with the territory in this sector. These clients keep full schedules—often mapped out 12 to 18 months in advance—comprised of near-constant business, philanthropic, and personal events. This takes the possibility of any kind of typical design and construction decision making process—which often includes impromptu meetings, jobsite visits, and lengthy interactions with project teams—off the table.

To cater to these needs, we developed a means and method for communicating with clients we may rarely have the opportunity to meet face-to-face, who often task us with protecting very private interests, and who require the ongoing support of a partner who can act on their behalf. This adjusted approach and proactive expectation setting extends not only to the client, but to the various teams contracted for the project—everyone from architects to designers to builders and engineers who might be more accustomed to a closer client relationship.

All of these projects are in and of themselves unique, posing extraordinary challenges in sourcing materials, securing just the right labor, and meeting unparalleled quality expectations. Creating a four story-spiral staircase for a private library from a single sheet of 1-inch-by-72-inch steel twisted into a corkscrew is, needless to say, not a typical task. Chartering a jumbo jet to bring that steel from its fabricator to the jobsite is not something done every day, but something we have executed successfully for clients.

Working for several years to install an undersea cable to carry power and fiber optic connectivity to a private island is uniquely satisfying. Moving a state highway and building a new overpass to shift a public highway further from our client’s home? We have done it. Globally sourcing and carving stone blocks to form a free-floating, curved, multi-story staircase? Almost as commonplace in Luxury Living as finding and relocating 40-ton boulders to form a diving rock for a granite-lined swimming pool.

The joy of these projects is in meeting our client’s expectations and creating a level of surprise with “I wasn’t sure if this could really be done,” and “this is even better than I’d imagined.” Sixteen years and nearly $1B in luxury homes later, we remain focused on meeting—and exceeding—client expectations every time. Bring on the next challenge.

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