Rida Asfahani, AIA, LEED APBD+C, Founding Principal

Rida founded ROOT ARCHITECTS in 2010, has over twenty years of experience in the design and construction fields. Throughout his career, Rida has studied and traveled throughout the country, Mexico, Europe, and the Near East; with an emphasis on historic preservation, sustainable design, and urban revitalization. As a Principal at Root, he is focused on bringing together culture, design, and history in an effort to usher El Paso into a new area of great community building. Rida has worked with nationally recognized design firms in Boston and San Antonio before moving home to El Paso and is actively involved in the city’s revitalization efforts.

University of Texas at San Antonio, Graduate School of Architecture -Master of Architecture (2004)

University of Texas at El Paso – Bachelor of Science: Biology (2001)

Christopher Esper, AIA, Principal

Christopher Esper is a registered Architect and Principal at Root Architects. A native El Pasoan, he earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture from Texas Tech University, and then a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University. Christopher worked in New York for ODA Architecture and then moved to Singapore in 2016 to work for SCDA Architects, an International design firm specializing in housing and hospitality where he worked on several mixed-use projects throughout Southeast Asia. In early 2018, Christopher returned to his hometown of El Paso where he joined Root Architects – a boutique architectural design firm that focuses on adapting historic buildings, fermenting culture and cultivating community. As a Principal at Root, he is focused on revitalizing and repurposing the historic fabric of the city through a range of mixed-use projects. Currently, he sits on the Historic Landmark Commission for the City of El Paso and is an Instructor at the Texas Tech Huckabee College of Architecture campus in El Paso, Texas.

Michael Gandara - AIA, Senior Project Manager

Michael is a registered Architect born and raised in El Paso and received his Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture from Texas Tech University. Michael moved to Austin to broaden his Architecture skill set and portfolio working exclusively on Government and Healthcare projects for Cox Design Associates. He became strongly versed in the process of applying for and winning Government contracts while maintaining GSA standards, project schedules and budgets. His goal was to move back to El Paso and in 2019 he moved back and opened a branch office for CDA. He decided to join Root Architects in July 2022 as a Senior Project Manager and specialize in Healthcare and Government projects for the firm. Michael is passionate about contributing his experience and knowledge in Architecture to his hometown and helping the city advance. He believes in client / user group collaboration in every phase of a project in order to produce high quality, functional buildings that benefit all occupants.

Catherine Soderberg Esper - Director of Research & Technology

Catherine Söderberg Esper was born and raised in Queens, New York. In 2012, she received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and upon graduating was awarded the Norman Rosenfeld Scholarship for Final Degree Project. Shortly thereafter, she was announced to be the sole teaching assistant for the three-month Undergraduate Architecture Summer Program in Berlin, Germany. In 2015, she graduated Harvard University Graduate School of Design with a Master of Architecture degree.

Throughout schooling and after, Catherine worked for boutique firms in New York City and Los Angeles. In 2016, her continued interest in researching novel methods of fabrication and material development for architectural applications led her to find a research position at Nanyang Technological University’s Center for 3D Printing in Singapore.

She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University in El Paso while simultaneously working on local large-scale fabrication projects that explore the emergence of materiality and technology with the built environment.

Andres Burciaga - Architectural Designer

Andres Burciaga is an accomplished architect from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, known for his creative and innovative designs that transform urban landscapes. He combines Mexican and American architectural influences to create visually striking and functional structures.
Andres started his architectural journey in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, where he studied design and construction, pushing the boundaries of traditional concepts. He further honed his skills at the well-regarded Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica in Mexico City, working on groundbreaking projects and developing a meticulous attention to detail.
Joining Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos allowed Andres to contribute to high-profile projects, refining his technical expertise and embracing sustainable design practices. He also collaborated with various architectural firms, gaining diverse experience in projects spanning residential, commercial, cultural, and educational developments.
Now based in El Paso, Andres brings his cross-cultural understanding to the local community, skillfully blending tradition with innovative design. He continually challenges design boundaries, creating inspiring spaces that meet practical needs and positively impact the lives of people.
Andres Burciaga’s unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence have earned him respect in the architectural field. His work stands as a testament to his passion for creating transformative spaces that make a difference.

Kim McGlone - Architectural Designer

Kim McGlone is a long-term El Paso resident.  Returning to school after a successful career in banking and working with multiple civic organizations, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Texas Tech University followed by a Master of Architecture from Rice University.   She received a certification in Historic Preservation while at Texas Tech University and traveled extensively with studies in Europe, Southeast Asia, and North and South America.   After graduating, she moved home to El Paso and joined Root Architects to focus on bringing relevant, innovative architectural experiences to the area and sharing that vision as an instructor at Texas Tech Huckabee College of Architecture in El Paso.