Eric Naslund, FAIA : Principal

Eric Naslund, FAIA


Eric began his architectural career in 1983 after graduating with honors from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo but his fascination with design and building can be traced all the way back to kindergarten where his teacher remarked on his progress report that Eric excels at art and construction toys. His formal education also includes a stint at the Écoles d'Art Américaines in Fontainbleau, France, where he was recognized with a Mention Bien Prize. Being an Air Force brat, Eric has lived all over the country and was born in Madrid, Spain.

When not at Studio E Architects, Eric enjoys spending time with his family and friends, going to the beach, playing golf or riding bikes. His lacrosse playing days long over, Eric still enjoys catching a game when possible.

John Sheehan, FAIA : Principal

John Sheehan, FAIA


John is a native of the Golden State, born in San Francisco in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1984. In 1986, he pursued a Graduate Design Diploma from the Architectural Association in London, England. John worked at various offices in Boston before moving to San Diego in 1989 to join his former Cal Poly classmate Eric Naslund at Studio E Architects.

John’s career has focused on producing thoughtful, sustainable, and life-affirming places for communities historically underserved by the profession. Fueled by an optimistic pragmatism - his work has wrested the exemplary from the unlikely. John has embraced the kit-of-parts of the region and created constructions of quirky complexity and unexpected richness. Making meaningful places from ordinary programs, slim budgets, and leftover sites -he has taken full advantage of the no-cost, natural “givens” of the West Coast – the sunlight, the breeze, and the landscape.

John has lectured at USC, Woodbury University, San Diego’s New School of Architecture, and the Monterey Design Conference. He is a frequent speaker at housing design conferences.

John has a keen interest in history and travel. After hours are spent hiking, biking, kayaking, making good food, and spending time with his wife and three children.

Mathilda Bialk, AIA : Principal

Mathilda Bialk, AIA


Mathilda graduated from NewSchool of Architecture + Design in 2006 with a Master of Architecture degree, and the academic honor Cum Laude. After five years of experience working on various project types and sizes at other local firms, Mathilda joined Studio E Architects in June 2007.

In 2020, Mathilda was awarded the Young Architect of the Year from AIA San Diego. She has also taught design as an adjunct professor at San Diego State University and volunteered for San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions award ceremonies. Mathilda is an active member of the Lambda Alpha International San Diego Chapter, a global land economics society and Urban Land Institute San Diego-Tijuana Housing Product Council.

Mathilda was born in San Diego, grew up on the Central Coast of California, and the rolling hills, oak trees and ocean are in her blood. Her vacation time is often spent in Morro Bay and Borrego Springs. Her interests include her family, crochet and yoga.

Maxine Ward, AIA : Principal | LEED AP

Maxine Ward, AIA

Principal | LEED AP

Born and raised on a dairy farm in Northern Ireland, Maxine left the farm for the big city to study architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland. In 1994 she was awarded a scholarship to the University of Kansas, beginning her American adventure.

A licensed architect in California and the United Kingdom, Maxine has been practicing architecture in San Diego since 2003, focusing on affordable multi-family housing and public projects including charter schools.  Maxine has been an adjunct faculty member at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, leading a graduate level design studio. She continues to serve as a visiting juror of student work.

She is an active member of the San Diego architectural community, serving since 2008 as a board member of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, where she was President from 2012-2014. She is a two-time chair of the Orchids & Onions design awards program. She is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute San Diego-Tijuana Local Product Council.

In 2015, Maxine was awarded the Young Architect of the Year from AIA San Diego in recognition for her body of work and her commitment to all aspects of the architectural profession.

Charity Dunphy, AIA : Principal

Charity Dunphy, AIA


Charity grew up on the east coast and received her Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2006 from Virginia Tech.  A few short weeks later she hopped in her car and headed west seeking the warmth of the sun, the pleasant dry climate and spectacular beaches.  She immediately embraced her architecture career in San Diego and created a strong foundation for her professional development.  Her project experiences range from residential to mixed use to educational.

When Charity is not out on a road bike excursion, her free time is spent doing other outdoors activities such as, running, hiking or simply relaxing with a good book on the beach.  She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends while impressing them with her latest creations in the kitchen.

Jennifer Hatton : Senior Associate | LEED AP BD+C

Jennifer Hatton

Senior Associate | LEED AP BD+C

Growing up between cornfields and cow pastures on the banks of the Mississippi River, Jennifer spent childhood summers and winters traversing the country in the family Chevy Transvan. From these adventures grew her interest in place, culture, nature and the idea of home. Jennifer pursued her architectural education at the University of Kansas and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany and comes to Studio E Architects with a professional background in community rooted design, construction and project experience spanning all scales and types.

Jennifer loves working with clients and communities to solve challenging and critical problems, operating with the firm conviction that the built environment has a great power and responsibility to the earth and future generations, socially, environmentally and economically. She finds extra energy and inspiration outside in nature, exploring on foot with her dogs and on two wheels with her mountain bike - bonus points for nature, particularly dirt, within the City.

Nate Vandermeulen : Associate

Nate Vandermeulen


Following his upbringing in the great state of Maine, Nate moved to Boulder, CO where he earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado.  After graduation, he and a classmate formed an improvised design/ build outfit offering design and construction services aimed specifically at the unfinished basement industry generated by the surplus of tract home communities in the Front Range area.  This continued until deciding to trade the mountains for the ocean in late 2002.  After arriving in San Diego, Nate spent the subsequent years sharpening his skills via professional involvement with the AIA and day-to-day efforts at a small handful of architecture and design firms before landing at Studio E Architects in April of 2016.

Outside of the office, you can find Nate enjoying a night (or weekend) of live music, searching for the next best thing at a variety of San Diego’s craft breweries, plotting out a roadtrip and- as any good New England expat should- devoting requisite attention to the Boston Red Sox.

Marcela Gracia, AIA : Associate

Marcela Gracia, AIA


Born in the state of Sonora, in Mexico, Marcela graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona Cum Laude in 2013 and was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi Medal, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia in 2015. While in school, she was the Director of the AIAS Freedom by Design program, serving the community through design + build projects while working on her thesis. After working in Arizona for a few months, Marcela moved to San Diego in the summer of 2015 to join Studio E Architects.

Having spent most of her life in the Sonoran Desert, she enjoys sunny days and warm weather. When not in the office she enjoys drawing, reading science fiction stories, and cooking new recipes.

Kirsten Blakeman : Architect

Kirsten Blakeman


Kirsten grew up in San Luis Obispo and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Architecture degree from Cal Poly. Having joined Studio E in 2017, she brings a wide breath of project management and design experience in education and multifamily projects.

Kirsten has a strong passion for mentorship and has long been involved with the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program serving as a Board Member, Education Committee Chair and Team Leader. In 2020 she was recognized as Mentor of the Year. Kirsten has also helped shape internship and job shadow opportunities with Cal Poly, local high schools and the Monarch School.

Before she decided to “go pro” in architecture, Kirsten was a NCAA Division I athlete. Since then she has completed a few dozen half marathons and a few thousand miles as a dog-jogger for the San Diego Humane Society. She now uses that training to chase after her two young daughters.

Jose works at the axis of research, speculation, and practice. Originally from Tijuana, Mexico, he grew up across the border within a bilingual, bicultural, and binational household. He practiced in the Bay Area for many years and has worked on various project types, including multifamily housing, higher education, and public interest projects serving the Latino community in San Francisco's Mission District.

Jose earned a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor in Architecture from the California College of the Arts (CCA). While at Columbia, he was awarded the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize for outstanding design. He has taught seminar courses in the Critical Studies program at CCA and occasionally serves as a guest critic at UC Berkeley and RISD. He also co-produces and co-hosts From the Margins: Perspectives on the Built Environment, a podcast dedicated to intersectional conversations with architects, activists, and scholars on the politics of space.

When out of the office, Jose enjoys bike rides with his husband and children, visiting the beach with his beagle, and attending live music shows with friends.

Lauren made the move to San Diego from her hometown of Bakersfield, California, where she was brought up around a family that was composed of just about every type of artist you could think of. This exposure to countless creative outlets and an affinity for puzzles led to the pursuit of her medium of choice, architecture. In 2021, she made her way to San Diego to attend the New School of Architecture and Design and will graduate with her bachelor's in June of 2024.

When she is out of the office, Lauren enjoys spending time on the coast, going to concerts, crocheting, quilting, finding new food spots, and discovering all Southern California has to offer.

Francisco Garcia : Architect | Construction Administrator

Francisco Garcia

Architect | Construction Administrator

As a licensed Architect and general contractor, Francisco comes to Studio E Architects via the design-build sector to manage and assist projects in the Construction Administration phase and to provide a builder's perspective early in a project's development.  Formally trained in the Cornell University Architecture program, Francisco has supplemented his Modernist core through hands-on construction experience over the last seventeen years.  From his fieldwork, he's maintained friendships with builders and tradesmen & considers them to be some of the best daily problem-solvers and resourceful critical thinkers.  With this awareness, Francisco offers Superintendents building the firm's projects, to be a collaborative ally to resolve queries during bidding & building, while protecting the building Architecture's design intent and the owner's financial interests.

On his time off, Francisco finds any opportunity to use power tools around his canyon home or to track down good highlights from the weekend's English Premiere League matches.

Carlos grew up in the San Diego-Tijuana area, getting the best from both cultures. His interest in architecture started at a young age when he noticed the different typologies when crossing the border from one side to the other. His passion started when he realized that architecture is more than just beautiful buildings…but more about problem solving and creating unique experiences.

In 2015, Carlos participated in a summer program in the CA Institute in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In 2016, he received his Bachelor of Architecture from NewSchool of Architecture + Design. Since then, Carlos has been practicing Architecture with passion and dedication.

When not in the office, Carlos enjoys playing soccer on a Saturday league, or rides his mountain bike when possible. He appreciates great food and living in an area with excellent culinary variety can’t make him happier. Occasionally, Carlos visits the vineyards south the border for a glass of wine, and why not…experience the amazing local architecture.

Jeremy is a San Diego native who grew up surfing, skateboarding and playing baseball with his three younger brothers and older sister. He chose architecture after high school because he found a love for drawing and design at a young age. Also, having the privilege of being in and around job sites with his father, a general contractor/talented woodworker, architecture became his dream career. He transferred from San Diego Mesa College to The University of New Mexico and attained his Bachelor of Architecture in 2022.

Jeremy is passionate about many things, including family, sports (specific to the ones with bats and boards), weightlifting, art, fishing, and philosophy. If you’d like to find him outside of work, one of San Diego’s beautiful bodies of water would be a good place to start.

Matt grew up in Newport Beach before coming to San Diego to attend college at Woodbury University School of Architecture in 2018. After graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture in 2021, Matt joined the Studio E Architects team to apply his knowledge and strong technical skills to further his architectural career.

When not in the office, he enjoys exploring San Diego’s neighborhoods on his bike, learning about new advancements in architectural technology, and finding new restaurants to try. Matt also enjoys exploring local farmers markets to find new ingredients to explore within the kitchen to varying degrees of success.

Daniel Jimenez, AIA : LEED AP BD+C

Daniel Jimenez, AIA


Danny was born and raised in San Diego before leaving for college in 2005. It took him 16 years to make his way back home, when he joined Studio E Architects in 2021. Before joining the team, he studied at Yale University and Rice University and worked in the architecture offices of Studio Gang, SOM, and WRNS Studio in Chicago and San Francisco.

Danny is fascinated by how architecture shapes social interactions and organizes the flows of so many different materials, trades, and environmental processes. Outside the studio, he loves spending time with his wife and son, exercising, reading about design and philosophy, and rooting for the Padres and Chargers.

Growing up in sunny San Diego, as a child Michelle’s mother was convinced she would run off and join the circus, as she often used her swing set for anything other than it’s intended purpose.  Unfortunately for Michelle the opportunity never presented itself, so in high school she was left to find a new career path.  It was at this point she stumbled upon the world of Architecture.  A career in Architecture would allow her to seamlessly blend her problem-solving skills with her creativity.  After receiving her Bachelors of Architecture and a Minor in Art from Cal Poly SLO, she returned to San Diego.

When not in the Studio (E), Michelle can commonly be found at the Barn.  As an avid Equestrian, she trains, competes and enjoys the unpredictable nature of a life lived with horses.  And in what free time there is left, she enjoys honing her culinary skills (much to the enjoyment of those around her).

Alina Prassas, AIA : Architect

Alina Prassas, AIA


Alina grew up in Colorado and earned her Bachelor of Environmental Design from CU Boulder. After a brief time spent as a sustainability coordinator, she then pursued a Master of Architecture at the University of Oregon, Portland, where she focused on resiliency and sustainable urbanism.

After moving to Seattle, she delved into community-based design and hasn’t looked back. Her professional work since then has focused on community facilities and affordable housing, and she is always excited to be able to help bring community-based projects to life.

When not at the office Alina enjoys climbing rocks, reading science fiction, baking sourdough bread, playing with her two crazy dogs, and spending as much time outdoors in sunny San Diego as possible.

Marcelle is native to the Tijuana/San Diego region. Coming from a creative household, she was encouraged to surround herself with art and design, taking many classes and workshops growing up. This passion eventually led her to Woodbury University, earning a Bachelor of Architecture in 2018. Her experience led her to several architecture firms in San Diego focusing on residential design, before starting at Studio E Architects in 2022. Marcelle considers Architecture as “placemaking,” she’s interested in how the built environment collaborates with communities, builds upon a collective identity, and is embraced by people in their daily lives.

When Marcelle is not in the office, she enjoys the outdoors— strolling around the city looking at architecture or hiking the many trails of Southern California. Marcelle loves to travel abroad, learn from other cultures, and spend time with family and friends. On an odd day you can find her baking, trying out a new recipe. With any luck she’ll have treats to share.

Vince Rosato : Associate AIA

Vince Rosato

Associate AIA

Vince, an Ohio native, had an early attachment to architecture through his many hours of Lego building and childhood trips to Europe to visit his family. In 2006, he graduated from Kent State University with a Masters of Architecture. Shortly after graduation, he made his way out to Boston to start his architectural career. He returned back to the Midwest briefly before finally making his way out to San Diego.

Having weathered many winters, he tries to take advantage of all the activities that the Southern California weather allows. He is always looking to explore whether it's driving the California coast, finding the new local food spots or latest coffee roaster.

Courtney Sawyer, AIA : Architect

Courtney Sawyer, AIA


Courtney grew up in Oklahoma, but has been enjoying the California sunshine for ten years and counting. She completed a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma in 2012, spending her last year of school studying abroad in Madrid with an emphasis on architecture and urban design. She also has a passion for plants and landscapes and tries to integrate this aspect into her work whenever possible. She has varied experience in community-informed design, urban design, and began to focus her efforts on residential projects before joining Studio E Architects in 2022.

In her spare time, Courtney enjoys reading, running, hiking, gardening, and exploring the beaches of San Diego. You can always count on her for a terrible/delightful (depending on your perspective) dad joke or architecture-related pun. Guaranteed to leave you beaming every time.

Marta Schalnat, AIA : Architect

Marta Schalnat, AIA


Born in Madrid, Spain, Marta received her Bachelor of Architecture in 2015 from NewSchool of Architecture + Design where she received the Merit Scholarship.  After two years working in a local Landscape Architecture firm, she joined the team in June 2017.

Her goal is to reveal inspiration in unlikely places.  By using the power of design, Marta wants to change how people view the world and their role in it. She believes that architecture has an impact on people’s everyday lives and represents what makes humans distinctively unique.

Outside the office, Marta enjoys pretty much anything that involves being outdoors. She loves hiking, travelling, reading and learning new things every day, as well as spending time with her family and friends.

Sabrina Schmidt-Wetekam : Architect

Sabrina Schmidt-Wetekam


A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sabrina attended Washington University in St. Louis for her bachelor’s in architecture and then M.I.T. for a master’s degree in architecture before venturing to California. Before moving to San Diego, Sabrina spent considerable time in Los Angeles working for several highly regarded architecture firms. Her project experience includes single-family, multi-family, mixed-use, and early education work. She enjoys collaborating with the project team and finding design solutions that create meaningful places and tell stories of the place and the community they serve.

Outside of work, she enjoys drawing, spending time with her husband, son, and crazy dog, as well as exploring new spots in beautiful San Diego.

Maria was born and grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received her first design degree from St. Petersburg State University of Technology and Design. After several years of working in Russia, she moved to Milan, Italy to earn her master’s degree in architecture from Politecnico di Milano. A few years later Maria moved on to San Diego, California, where she earned an additional master’s degree in architecture, from New School of Architecture. After graduating from New School, she immediately started her architecture career in San Diego, focusing on the multi-family residential sector.

In her free time, Maria loves to travel and explore new places with her family. She likes to spend time hiking or simply walking along the beach, or skiing during the winter. She also likes painting with oil and designing various home decorations.

Takara Tada : Architect

Takara Tada


Takara grew up in Hawaii, had a few stops in New Mexico and Michigan, and eventually started her career in New York City. With a Dual Masters in Architecture & Urban Design, from the University of Michigan, as well as a D. Arch degree from UH, she ardently welcomed the transition into working life in the bustling city. Her adventures continued to San Francisco, where for a decade her experience in mixed-use, multifamily residential projects took root.

Outside of the office, you can find Takara at the beach or in the mountains with her dog, or spending time with her favorite human – her niece.

Arlen Hizon : Marketing and Business Development

Arlen Hizon

Marketing and Business Development

Arlen’s first architectural job in the early 2000s set a precedence for the kind of work environment she appreciates. Being surrounded by all the creative types has kept her in this industry. She has performed multiple roles in every firm she’s worked at and has brought support in office management, marketing, project and staff accounting, executive support, and human resources. Finally, a place to embrace her creative side, at Studio E Architects, her primary role is our Marketing and Business Development Manager. She is also a member of the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS).

Outside of work, many of her favorite things are #1 her two dogs, being a homebody but enjoying an outing amongst good people, watching film and television, laughing at stand-up comics, shopping at flea markets and craft fairs, eating good food, DIYing, cooking, and finding the best cookie recipes.

Heather Davis : Office Administrator

Heather Davis

Office Administrator

Heather Davis is a California native raised around the avocado and citrus groves in Northern San Diego County. She has worked as an office administrator and graphic designer in a variety of industries, including housing, tourism, and now, architecture. As the Office Administrator Heather will be the first point of contact for many new clients and will provide administrative support to help keep the Studio E Architects office running smoothly.

Outside of the office, Heather runs an artist’s collective she cofounded with three friends, the Comic Artists of San Diego. Dedicated to supporting the local comic book artist community, she frequently runs the CASD booth at local comic book conventions and events. She also writes and illustrates her own short stories and comic books, building on the skills she learned while she earned her bachelor's degree in Illustration and Fine Arts from the Laguna College of Art and Design.