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Celebrating 35 Years in Architecture

Celebrating 35 years in Architecture!

Happy Saturday everyone!

A couple quick reminders. First, don’t forget to catch my singing of the National Anthem this coming Monday, March 6th at 1pm at Scottsdale Giants Stadium in Old Town. I’m looking forward to singing for the third time. I am really looking forward to this third time as the butterflys are a lot less! Let me know if you need any ticketsto the Scottsdale Charro Lodge for any of the games!



 Ok today is a very special day for me! 35 years ago, on March 4th, 1982 I started my first day of my career in architecture! We had a fun little celebration yesterday morning and I want to thank all of those who stopped by out of their busy days for a bite from our omelet bar accompanied by a Bloody Mary or mimosa!


So 35 years….I remember that first day like it was yesterday. I was 21 years old and had been working at Schuff Steel as a steel detailer drafting billboards. In fact, I did detail the largest billboard in the country at Anaheim Stadium in California. But my billboard detailing career was short lived as they put a moratorium on billboards and I was out of a job in the middle of the 1982 recession. So I was on the streets, recently married, trying to get enough funds to get back to architecture school at ASU. Things weren’t looking too go until I saw an ad in the paper for a draftsman position at the firm of George W. Christensen and Associates.

My mentor, the late George W. Christensen, and I at our Enchantment Resort circa 1987


I found my way to the old Lon Megargee

designed office on the southwest corner of 24th Street and Campbell where George Christensen and his crew had their offices. I really wanted this job as George was an associate professor at the school of architecture at ASU and so I knew this was the key to my future and a job I just had to get at all cost. I didn’t have much of a portfolio (other than billboards which I didn’t think was going to make a big impact) so as soon as the time and date of my interview was set I ran home and starting creating drawings from my architecture drafting books. I really didn’t know what I was drawing but I can tell you the drawings were well executed.


I got up early that big day and was greeted by Dianne Kleber who was running the front desk (running the office!) and she brought me into the conference room which is still one of my favorite spaces. What was a livingand dining room with a beautiful plaster fireplace with of course a Lon Megargee painting above. Of course at that time I had no idea what I was doing or who Lon Magargee was but here I was sitting in front of these serious architects. I was 21, hair down to my shoulders, and hoping this would be my big break. I went through my drawings and then it came down to the question of what did I want to be paid? Luckily, I was really hungry and wanted this job, so I countered with, “Look, this is the place I want to be. I can draw anything and love working so I would be happy to come here, do whatever you need me to do or draw and I will gladly take whatever you want to pay me for the work!”

MC with the lovely Dianne Kleber at our 35 year celebration party!


The interview went well I thought and I followed up with a nicely written letter and I then waited by the phone – no email in those days! A week or so went by and then I got that call that changed my life forever. Dianne Kleber called and said well Markle Sparkle you got the job. When can you start….of course I said I can be right over! How special it was yesterday to have Dianne Kleber at our little celebration! What a special lady she is! We worked together at Christensen’s office and then she worked with my at my firm, Candelaria Design Associates for several years! I have been so blessed to have this lady in my life!


MC and Brian Cassidy, 2016

That first day was very memorable also. I was the last desk on the row of drafting tables in the studio. Dick Miller, Verner Wulf, John Williams, Brain Cassidy and then me – the new kid in the studio. First task was to set up my drafting table. I had no idea how to set up my mayline (rolling straight edge) and fiddled with it for a while when Brain turned to me and said, “let me help you Junior!” That nickname stuck for a number of years! Brian got me all set up and between him and Dick Miller, who ran the production of the office, they mentored me along and were instrumental in my development of becoming an architect.

The Van Houten Residence, Paradise Valley


Some of my first projects was the Van Houten Residence in Paradise Valley with Gerald and Jerry Meek of Desert Star Construction. and the Paradise Valley United Methodist Church sanctuary on Lincoln and then the Casa Blanca Phase 2 Patio Homes in 1984 which I was now the project manager and in charge of putting that project together. Then throw in the Enchantment Resort in Sedona where I was the project manager and the Castle Hot Springs project. My career was off and running.

Paradise Valley United Methodist Church

Casa Blanca Phase 2

Casa Blanca, Scottsdale

Enchantment Resort - Sedona

Enchantment Resort ~ Sedona


Well after 5 years I had moved up from “Junior” who was willing to work for anything to becoming George Christensen’s partner and the formation of CCBG which still exists today. During those years, I never made it back to ASU for architecture but at the savvy recommendation of George, I did go to the College of Business where I studied accounting, finance, business law and of course my favorite, marketing! I also then had the time under my belt to qualify to take the architecture registration exams which I did and received my license in 1992. So this September will mark 25 years as a registered architect.  Add another twelve years and George was ready to retire and so it was my time to head out on my own and form Candelaria Design in August of 1999.


So now some 35 years and some 100,800 hours later I have designed well over 1000 homes all across the country, Mexico and Canada. We are celebrating our 18th year of Candelaria Design and I am proud to have a team who was there at the beginning, namely my associate, Vivian Ayala, 16 years and Jeffrey Kramer, AIA some 17 years.

My first Candelaria Design Holiday Card, 1999


As we all know, nobody does everything on their own and I have been blessed to work with so many talented architects, amazing clients, and phenomenal builders and craftsman who have been so instrumental in bringing these inspirations and visions to reality. I was always fortunate to have designing and drawings as part of my soul and makeup and to see where it has taken me is beyond my wildest imagination. I had no idea when I wandered into that office on 24th Street where the journey would lead me. However, to remind me of that start at the old 24th Street Office, I did find a Lon Megargee print of the A-1 Beer painting the "Cowboy's Dream" that hangs in my home studio. George loved that print and so do I! 

The 2016 Class of Candelaria Design

Thank you to everyone who has been and continues to be a part of my journey, which despite the rumors, I have not retired and continue to work some 70 hours every week. I’m usually up at 4am drawing away, which I love more than anything, and then in meetings or out at jobsites during the day, and then cooking away for clients, friends, and family with my lovely bride, Isabel in the evening! Squeeze in our tours to Italy and now Spain and I can assure you I am far from retiring! Candelaria Design is doing great and we have put into place a wonderful way to keep it going for years and years with our buy-sell agreement which allows all of our Candelaria Design lifers to be a part of the ownership!

The Candelaria Design Management Team!


Here is to the next 1000 homes! Ok back to the boards I go!