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Meet the Curbed Young Guns Semifinalists: Justine Zielinski

Curbed Young Guns, now in its first year, aims to identify promising up-and-coming talent (35 and under) in the fields of architecture, interior design, and urban development. For the next few weeks, Curbed National will run individual stories on each semifinalist; the inaugural class of Young Guns will be announced in mid August. In the mean time, though, here's a look at a semifinalist based in San Francisco:

After graduating from San Francisco's Academy of Art University with an MFA in interior architecture and design, Justine Zielinski was blessed with the most no-muss-no-fuss job search imaginable: she sent her portfolio to a single firm. The gig? No big deal, just a designer position at AvroKO, one of the biggest commercial and hospitality firms on the planet. Her very first project? Oh, it's nothing, just a real-life version of what she had been doing in school.

Zielinski, 26, was hired in March and works out of AvroKO's relatively new San Francisco office, and she's contributed to an L.A. project for restaurateur Michael Mina, the new Dropbox HQ here in town, and the various parts of the Santa Anita Racetrack remodel. Now, though, she spends most of her time as lead designer on AvroKO's part in the redevelopment of Denver's Union Station, a $500M project master-planned by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The fact that Zielinski grew up about an hour south of Denver, and that her graduate thesis conceptualized what the abandoned 16th Street Station, in Oakland, Calif., might look like after being redeveloped to "reconstruct this urban pocket and to defragment its residents by planning an integrated community built around this beautiful and neglected piece of architectural history," as she writes, only adds to this bonkers narrative.

More background, and why Union Station will change Zielinski's hometown.>>