Meet The Team

Meet our amazing team of individuals who make up Candelaria Design. Founded in 1999 we are celebrating our 20th 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. In December of 2018 Meredith Thomson, AIA officially became a partner and principal of the firm. Meredith works alongside Vivian in overseeing the design and production arm of Candelaria Design. Candelaria  continues as a principal and will work with his partners, Vivian, Meredith, and Evelyn, in contributing and overseeing the design of projects, in addition to his role with client relations, marketing and working on the Candelaria Lifestyle brand. 


Mark Candelaria

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 daughter Gabrielle.  

Evelyn Jung
Principal - 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
Principal - Director of Architecture Design and Production

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. Meredith officially became a partner and principal of Candelaria Design in December of 2018.


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.   


Damon Wake
Team Director - 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.


Lisa Mallas-Matthews
Team Director - Project Architect

Lisa originally joined Candelaria Design Associates in 2003, and is thrilled to be part of this talented design team. Lisa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in History and went on to earn her Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  During her university studies, she was fortunate to study architecture at Oxford University, traveling throughout England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands, as well as participating in a summer program in Oaxaca, Mexico, and a semester design studio in Mexico City.  She has an art background and is passionate about the idea of inspiring through design. In addition to being a Team Director, Lisa is also a licensed and registered Architect and an NCIDQ certified Interior Designer. Lisa enjoys spending family time with her husband David and their two children, Ella & Evan, loves to hike & mountain bike, and can’t be kept away from a flea market.


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.

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.



Peter Ekama
Project Manager / Architect

Peter joined Candelaria Design in February 2012. He is a University of Cincinnati alumnus with experience in various typologies and scales of projects in both the public and private sector. Residential design and the intimate interactions it inherently contains has piqued his interest throughout his career. 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.

When not designing, 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 Roe
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.

Janice Rantanen
Director of Lasting Impressions


Janice has lived in the valley since 1982 and joined Candelaria Design as Director of Lasting Impressions. She insures the comfort of our valued clients and design team members, as well as upholding the Candelaria Design Lifestyle aesthetic.

Prior to joining Candelaria Design she represented a semi custom home builder in selling many of Scottdale’s finest communities. In addition to her real estate background she also owned one of  Scottsdale’s most beloved home and garden stores specializing in farm antiques and accoutrements sourced from Europe.

Janice has always had an interest in architecture and interior design.  She enjoys antiquing, cooking, gardening and traveling our country as well as abroad.


Pablo Moncayo
Job Captain

Pablo joined Candelaria Design in September 2018. He is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to Arizona in 2000.

In 2015, he graduated from Taliesin-The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture now The School of Architecture at Taliesin with his M.Arch degree where he is currently a school board member. He has experience designing and documenting projects in the higher education market, sports facilities, housing, etc.

Pablo is passionate about 3D modeling, making videos, dancing, cooking, working out, and enjoys the hands-on approach to design.


Emma Cordova Astiazaran
Job Captain

As a new team member, Emma joined Candelaria in October 2018 as a Job Captain. She was born and raised in Hermosillo, Mexico and has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from ITESM (Mexico). At her young age, she has lived in four countries being our country her new fifth addition to the list. This has given her the opportunity to watch and learn so much from her own experiences. Due to her way of living, she embraces every moment to the maximum and never forgets to be thankful. On her free time, she loves to hang out with her family, friends and her cute black pug.

Arland Encallado
Job Captain


Arland joined Candelaria Design Associates as a Job Captain in April 2019. He was born in the Philippines and moved to Arizona in 2016. He finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at Far Eastern University in the Philippines.

Growing up, his interest in architecture had already begun. Even at a very young age, he was fascinated with sketching and drafting.
He started his career as an Architect in the Philippines. His practice paved the way to explore his passion.

He has a thirteen-year experience working on residential, commercial and institutional projects that reached some parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. During his spare time, he usually engages in sports and outdoor activities together with his wife and family. “


Nusrat Jafar
Project Manager

Nusrat was born and raised in New Delhi, India. She graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor of Arts degree and obtained a diploma in Drafting and Design from Jenson & Nicholson’s Institute in New Delhi. She worked with an architectural firm for 2 1/2 years doing mostly high end residential design and hotel projects in New Delhi and Nepal before moving to the United States. She earned an Associates degree in Architecture Technology from Delaware County Community College. She then worked as a consultant in Philadelphia and Phoenix for 10 years mainly working on high end residential projects. In addition, Nusrat has also owned her own company that specialized in buying, designing and remodeling existing homes. She enjoys cooking, spending time with family and friends, exploring new destinations as well as playing cards, badminton, tennis, table tennis, hiking, gardening and oil painting.