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 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.

Jazmin Sifuentes, Architectural Designer

Jazmin was born and raised in El Paso-Juarez border region. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ), Mexico, in December of 2016 and became a licensed Architect in Mexico in 2017. Jazmin worked as an Architectural Researcher at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte developing various Governmental Projects and private residential work from 2017 to 2018.

In May of 2018, Jazmin moved back to El Paso to start a new professional chapter. Jazmin has worked on institutional, religious, and commercial projects prior to joining Root architects.

Jazmin is always looking to new avenues to expand her knowledge and has an affinity for the arts. She particularly likes music and is in constant search of vinyl records of her favorite artists.

One of her main goals is to complete the requirements to be a Register Architect in the State of Texas and be a binational licensed architect. As part of Root Architects, Jazmin wants to bring a true binational perspective to the architecture of the region.

Pablo César Chávez - Architectural Designer

Pablo is a native to the Borderland. He grew up in Cd. Juárez, Chih. Mex. and subsequently in El Paso, Tx. He first received his Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture in 2014 and subsequently his Master’s of Architecture in 2016 both from the University of Texas at San Antonio. While in college, Pablo had the opportunity to study in Barcelona and Scottsdale, Arizona documenting buildings by Antoni Gaudí (Casa Milà) and Frank Lloyd Wright (Taliesin West) respectively. Pablo worked on historic residential and adaptive reuse projects in San Antonio before coming back to El Paso, where he worked on educational and other institutional projects before joining Root. His professional experience has given Pablo a social appreciation for architecture and believes in the transforming power of the sensitive, responsive design. As a member of Root Pablo hopes to further the revitalization efforts of the locality and to push urban discourse of the border.

Fernanda Guerrero - Architectural Designer

Fernanda was born in El Paso and moved to Mexico City at a young age. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de Mexico she continued her studies to obtain a certificate in Interior Design wile working as a freelancer for various companies in Mexico City.

After becoming a licensed Architect in Mexico in 2020 she decided it was time to move back to her hometown, El Paso, to expand her knowledge and appreciation towards architecture throughout the world.

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.