AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
PRINCIPAL | ARCHITECT
Growing up in the East Communist block, I always had aspirations of one day emigrating to the US. That day came in 1996 when my sister and I were reunited with our parents after being separated for a few years. At that time, I was a Junior in high school. After completing my junior and senior year at Peoria High School, I enrolled full time at the University of Arizona. Besides architecture (which was my main degree) I also studied Italian language and literature with a minor in studio arts. Upon graduation, we moved back to Phoenix where I started my professional career in the architectural field. My first job was at a small architectural firm of about 20 or so people. I was there until 2008 when the great recession affected the architectural industry particularly hard. I was fortunate enough to find a job with a large national firm during the recession period. I experienced a lot of professional growth while there, including becoming a licensed architect.
After four years with the firm, I changed jobs one more time to work for another small firm in Scottsdale where a college friend of mine was working. It was while working there, my college friend (Jorge Toscano) and I started really considering opening our own firm (just as we used to daydream back in the college days). It took us a year to get organized and muster the courage to leave. In late 2013 after seven years of working for other firms, I walked into my bosses’ office to resign. It was one of the most exciting and at the same time scary thing I had done so far. In 2015 when we put an offer on an old office building that we purchased and made it our home office. Once we had the office, we started to hire people to help with the growing body of work. At first one, then two until we got to a staff of seven.
We have a very diverse office with people from different backgrounds. We wanted to be an office where people from different minority groups and backgrounds could grow and succeed in a profession that has been, for the most part, out of reach for immigrants, women, and people of color. After six years in business and hundreds of projects later that took us as far as India, we have a thriving business that is due in most part to the amazing people in our office.
PRINCIPAL | DESIGN DIRECTOR
While, being a son to immigrants I learned a strong work ethic and the value of hard work. Growing up in a border town I had the opportunity to live in two distinct and tacit cultures. As a result, drawing, sketching and the dreaming up spaces to live in and their connections that drew from both sides made architecture a logical life choice.
I have always been a nontraditional student and learner, I graduated from the University of Arizona College of Architecture in 2005 after stint as a superintendent for a construction company where I learned the art of the connection and the importance of the need for the knowledge of construction and its methods.
In practice, I have had the opportunity to work in multiple firms that range in scale. Finding myself in the design department in one capacity or another. The availability to work closely with clients to guide each design process has helped me as a communicator and interpreter for the shared vision of the project(s).
After meeting Daniel Istrate during the first year of Architectural school, the collaboration between the two of us seemed effortless and has only galvanized in the years since. Since he and I began KONTEXTURE we have successfully completed more than 300 projects, one of those being our own office building.
As our partnership has evolved the next logical step was the construction of our projects. TECTONICA Construction is the latest venture in our association. In conjunction with our architectural practice Tectonica is the perfect schism for us to complete and deliver a successful product for all our clients.
We have been living in the central Phoenix area for over thirteen years, where my wife and are raising our two sons. In our spare time we like to collect mid-century modern furniture, and coach baseball.
Jody Hansen is a project manager at Kontexture, working closely with municipalities, general contractors, and with building code to bring our client’s design goals to reality. Since moving to the valley in 2008, she completed her Master’s in Architecture at Arizona State University with particular interest in sustainable design and has since gained over 10 years of experience in single and multi-family residential, and commercial buildings. She views each project as an opportunity to learn how the built environment continues to impact us as a society.
Mark Cunningham grew up in a small town in Kansas, learning both art and building trades alongside his many siblings. He received his Master’s degree at the University of Kansas while also working in the building and design trades.
After 20 years experience, he moved to Phoenix to work as a Project manager at Kontexture and has enjoyed the new pace of life in the Southwest. He has experience in commercial, automotive, educational, industrial, workplace, healthcare, hospitality, and residential projects. Aside from architecture, he also loves art, writing, woodworking, and cooking, just to name a few.
Carmen Kirkbride joined Kontexture’s team in 2019 as a Junior Project Manager.
Carmen is originally from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and attended the University of Sonora where she became a Licensed Architect. She has 3 years of experience working as a Project Manager in construction seeing a project through from beginning to end for residential, educational and commercial projects.
When she is not at the office, she is a wife and a mom to a 1.5 year old boy.
Jennine Wolf is a native to Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Scottsdale Community College with an Associates Degree in Architectural Technology. She recently joined our team in 2020 as a Job Captain. She has a passion for design and has only gown more since joining Kontexture.
When not at work, Jennine enjoys tap dancing, painting, and off-roading.
Eliza Herman is native Romanian Interior Designer that graduated from West University of Timisoara, Romania, with a bachelor degree in Visual Arts and Design.
She has taken the role of an Interior Designer for both Kontexture and Tectonica, striving to make each project special through her love for art and beauty, using colors, finishes, textures and materials to bring each design to life for our customers.
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reigns.”
Denisa Istrate graduated from University of Babes-Bolyai (Cluj, Romania) with a degree in English Literature from the college of Humanities. Besides English, she has also studied Korean and Italian.
After moving to the US she started to work as the Office Manager for Kontexture.