Meet The Team

Meet our amazing team of individuals who make up Candelaria Design. Founded in 1999 we are celebrating our 18th year of designing spectacular homes throughout Arizona and now from the coasts of California to the tip of Long Island, NY. Founded on the principal that the design process needs to be a collaborative adventure, Candelaria Design works closely with their clients and design team in creating homes and projects specifically for the needs and experience of the end user. Candelaria Design is a TEAM of dedicated architects, designers and support staff all sharing the same values of personal customer service, quality design, and building friendships along the way. Creating a home is such a personal endeavor and undertaking and it takes a team that cares about the client and their experience both during the design and construction and years after the completion of the home. A Candelaria Design home is much more than just a structure of brick and mortar, it is a home that embodies the wishes, memories, and soul of our customers. Let us work with you to manifest your dream!

The Candelaria Design Team of 2016

The Candelaria Design Team of 2016

Ownership and Management Team

The firm was founded in 1999 by founder and principal, Mark Candelaria, AIA who assembled a quality team over the course of the last 15 years. During that time and in preparation for the longevity and perpetuity of the firm, Candelaria has established an ownership and management structure that allows for additional partners all who have proven their skill, knowledge, and commitment to the goals of the firm. On January 8, 2015 Candelaria announced the addition of two new Associates, Vivian Ayala, and Evelyn Jung. Vivian Ayala has been with the firm for over 16 years and has managed and designed hundreds of projects including marquis projects as the Village of Mountain Shadows, and several notable residences both here in Arizona and across the country. Vivian now oversees the design and production arm of Candelaria Design and has now been made an official partner and part Owner on May 12, 2017. Meanwhile, Evelyn Jung has been with the firm for over 10 years and has been running the financial and business operations of the firm, including human resources and marketing. She collaborates with Candelaria on the Italy and now Spain Tours, and is very involved in business development for the firm. Candelaria  continues as a principal and will work with his partner, Vivian, in contributing and overseeing the design of projects, in addition to his role with client relations, marketing and working on the Candelaria Lifestyle brand. 

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Mark Candelaria
Principal

Mark Candelaria, AIA started the firm in 1999 after an 18 year career as one of the founding partners of CCBG Architects in Phoenix. During his time at CCBG he worked for and with the legendary George W. Christensen, FAIA who mentored Mark from the time he joined the firm at age 22 in 1982 until Christensen's retirement in 1999 whereupon Mark decided to go out on his own. 

The firm has grown since 1999 and along the way Mark has carefully assembled a team very dedicated to the values that act as the soul of Candelaria Design. Named a Master of the Southwest in 2005 by Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine, Mark and his team all share the passion of good design coupled with warm and friendly personal service. From his tours to Italy to cooking for his clients upon the completion of their home, the process of designing a home means so much more than just producing a set of plans to our team - the process of designing a home means the creation of a whole new way of living that accentuates and celebrates every aspect of living in a home. 

Candelaria Design is a TEAM. Mark Candelaria oversees the design and engages closely with the client in capturing the dream. The Team you see featured below combine their efforts and years of experience in collaborating with Mark and the client in the design, orchestrating and coordinating consultants, engineers, and designers, managing the project and schedule, and carrying out the work through design and construction and all the way to the day you walk in the door and begin living in your Candelaria Design home.   

Learn more about Mark Candelaria, the Candelaria Team and our projects on our show SKETCH on The Design Network. 


Vivian Ayala
Principal - Director of Architecture Design and Production

Vivian was officially made a Principal and part owner of Candelaria Design on May 12th, 2017 and heads the Design and Production Operations of the firm. Vivian joined Candelaria Design in July 2000. She graduated from University of Puerto Rico, where she is from, with a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Design and obtained her Master Degree in Architecture at Arizona State University. In addition to her cheerful personality, her bi-lingual skills and ability to multitask various projects are other qualities cherished by Candelaria Design. Vivian enjoys spending family time with her husband Paco and her daughter Gabrielle.  


Evelyn Jung
Associate - Director of Business Operations

Evelyn joined Candelaria Design Associates in October 2005 as Mark's executive assistant. She became an Associate of the firm on January 8, 2015 and manages the Business Operations, Human Resources, Marketing and Business Development of the firm. When not at the office, Evelyn is pursuing a Real Estate License and Bachelors Degree in Business Management at ASU.


Meredith Thomson
Team Director - Project Architect

Meredith is a Phoenix native who recently moved back from San Francisco. She attended the University of Notre dame and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelors in Architecture. Her fourth year as a student was spent traveling throughout Italy and Europe, fueling her passion for traditional design. She was also fortunate to spend a summer in Chicago interning with Liederbach and Graham Architects which helped her discover her calling to be a residential architect. After graduation, she went to work with Fairfax and Sammons Architects in New York City, where she spent three years working on projects in and outside of the city; including a townhouse in the West Village and a summer home in Long Island. Missing home on the west coast she decided to start making her way back, and ended up with a position at Peter Pennoyer Architects; a New York based firm that has a sister office in San Francisco. From there she transitioned into the interior design world, working for Tucker and Marks Interior Design as an interior architect. She recently made the final jump back to Phoenix ~ Spring of 2013 and aside from coming 'home', is very excited to be a part of the Candelaria Design team.


Tim Mathewson
Team Director - Project Manager

Tim joined Candelaria Design in 2006, moving quickly from Job Captain to Project Manager; promoted most recently to Team Director in January 2015.  Born and raised in the Midwest, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, before moving to Phoenix.

From a very early age Tim has been involved in all facets of design and construction and his appreciation of classic design was further enhanced through his experiences studying in Turkey and traveling across Europe.  Though having professional experience in both commercial and residential architecture, Tim connects with residential design as a way to enhance his clients’ lives through a collaborative process that brings the vision of the client and the entire design team to life.

In his free time, Tim enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and photography.   


Stacey Payne
Executive Assistant 

Stacey Payne joined Candelaria Design Associates in February of 2012 as Mark Candelaria’s Executive Assistant. Stacey has more than 10 years experience as an Executive Assistant and was very excited to join such a wonderful group of people.

Stacey helped her husband, who is Co-Owner of L & D Technology Solutions; get the company started, while their children finished school. She and David are now entering the “Empty Nester” phase of their lives and are so excited to see what the future has to bring.


Caitlin Cunningham
Director of First Impressions

Caitlin was born and raised in Winslow, Arizona. Since she was younger she has always had a dream of being a business women, she knew living in small town USA wasn't a place for her to blossom so she moved to the Phoenix area in early 2016 to pursue her career and education in Business Administration. She joined the Candelaria Design Team in September 2016. When she isn't in the office she loves being outdoors or just hanging out and spending quality time with her son Bo.


Jeff Kramer
Project Architect - Emeritus

Jeff joined Candelaria Design as a Project Director in September 2000. After graduating with a bachelor of architecture from Tulane University, he spent the next 15 years with a local Phoenix firm, Knoell & Quidort Architects, as a Project Architect where he developed his skills on a wide variety of commercial and residential projects. Jeff joined CDA because of his enjoyment of working on quality residential architecture exclusively. He states, "Residential architecture provides an unmatched opportunity for personalized service and collaboration with clients in the creation of an inspiring and uniquely customized home. Jeff has retired from Candelaria Design to spend more time with his family and pursuing personal interests. He does however, continue to consult with Candelaria Design on several projects and provides quality control and back-checking of our projects.


Damon Wake
Project Manager

Damon joined Candelaria Design in November of 2011.  He received a bachelor’s in Architecture from Cornell University. Damon lived and studied abroad in Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and completed his thesis on Portugal. 

He is a Phoenix native and is happy to be back in the desert. When Damon isn’t designing custom homes he enjoys taking advantage of Arizona’s beautiful landscape.


Hector Medina
Project Manager

Hector joined Candelaria Design in May 2014 as a Project Manager. He decided to become an Architect at the age of 5. He started working as a draftsman at age of 13, and that passion for Architecture remains today. Hector graduated with Honors in 1996 from ITESM (Mexico), started his own firm as an Architect/Builder. He lived in Italy in 1997 & 1998, where he learned not only the language, but the culture. He discovered how ancient architecture collides with contemporary design not just elegantly, but with character, functionality and respectfully for the surrounding context.  Continuously learning has been the key for his work, taking every challenge as an opportunity to improve his designs. He sees his work not just as a career, but as a responsibility to help families improve their way of life.  Hand drafted sketches and renderings are his best way to communicate. His wife and 2 sons are the other face of his passion, who he shares countless evenings with; sharing a thin slice of prosciutto and some Parmigiano-Reggiano. Hector enjoys a glass of wine, or maybe a steaming cup of coffee at the end of his day.


Peter Ekama
Project Manager

Peter joined Candelaria Design in February 2012. He is a Master of Architecture graduate from the University of Cincinnati. Through internships in the UC Co-Op program, he gained experience in various typologies and scales of projects in both the public and private sector. Residential design was the subject matter of his thesis and continues to piqued his interest. He believes that good design has a unique capability to positively affect a person and their life, and endeavors to achieve that outcome in each project.

Peter enjoys traveling to see both the architecture and culture of places and has done so extensively in the United States, with plans to doing more so abroad. When not working with design or studying for licensure, he spends time with his wife and family, volunteers with his church, and explores Arizona’s natural areas through hiking and climbing.

 

 

 


Mathew Grove
Project Manager

Mathew joined Candelaria Design in February of 2014 as an intern and affiliated with the firm full time as Job Captain following his graduation from University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the College of Architecture Planning and Landscape Architecture. Mathew’s passion for architecture was evident at an early age and led him to intern in high school with the San Diego firm of Carrier Johnson Architects for two consecutive summers. His travels through Europe have influenced and inspired his architecture perspective. Mathew is committed to a high level of client service and looks forward to opportunities to contribute his creativity and attention to detail as a Candelaria design team member. In his spare time, Mathew enjoys hiking, traveling, sports and spending time with family and friends.  


Tyler Bulriss
Project Manager

Tyler moved to Arizona in August 2016, he is originally from upstate New York where he graduated from the University of Delhi. While in school he traveled to Italy where he fell in love with classical Architecture. He is excited to join the Candelaria Design Team. Tyler says it is exciting for him to make a beautiful house into a home for a family. Outside of Architecture he enjoys working out, sports, traveling and spending time with his friends and family.  


Rebecca Struchen
Project Manager

Rebecca was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York.  She spent much of her youth creating and renovating with her dad, which spurred her passion for architecture.  From an early age that passion never faded and she went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Technology.  During her time in college she traveled to Italy; an invaluable experience that sparked her interest in classic architecture.  Following graduation Rebecca immediately found her home at a Syracuse firm specializing in historic architecture and preservation.  She spent over ten years with that firm learning valuable skills and techniques. In the fall of 2016 Rebecca moved to Arizona to be near family.  She began with Candelaria Design in November as a Job Captain and is excited to see what this new experience will bring and how her experience can transition to this new environment.


Jochen Walther
Project Manager

Jochen joined Candelaria Design Associates in July 2017. Originally from southern Germany, Jochen enrolled at the Munich Technical college in 1993, obtaining a degree in Drafting and Design. He relocated to Arizona in ’95 to attend the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin. Upon graduation in 2000, Jochen worked on commercial projects which included AZ State projects, Hospitals and the Phoenix airport expansion. He then worked for a leading home developer where he was involved in marketing and design of homes throughout the southwest. Joining Peterson Architecture in ’04, he managed several of the firms high-end residential projects ranging from 3000sf to 25000sf. In 2014 he was hired by CCBG Architects as a project and social media manager where he sharpened his marketing and commercial skills.

Jochen has a son and a daughter and loves to travel with his Family. He lived in Switzerland, France and Spain which also fueled his other passion of Photography.


Samar Kattan
Job Captain

Samar joined Candelaria design on April 2016 as a Job Captain. She graduated from Baghdad University in 2001 with a B.Sc Degree in Architectural Engineering. Samar worked in Baghdad, Iraq and in Amman, Jordan as an Architect in Architectural firms, and worked on both commercial and residential projects, then moved to Arizona. Design and details are her passion; other than Architecture, Samar enjoys traveling, oil painting and music.



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Jake Ernst
Intern

Jake joined the Candelaria team as an intern in May of 2017. He is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in enviornmental design at Montana State University. Upon completion of his undergrad, he plans to continue his education in graduate school to receive his Masters of Architecture. Jake has always had a strong passion for residential architecture and would like to pursue a career in a residential firm upon graduation. In his free time, Jake enjoys hiking and camping with his dog and friends and exploring new cities. He is also an avid traveler who enjoys seeing all the different types of art and architecture the world has to offer. Thus far he has traveled across northern Europe, Southern Africa, Mexico, Canada, and much of the United States with the hope to see even more over the next several years.