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Irvine, CA—We’re pleased to introduce Mario Hernandez, Senior Job Captain in our Irvine Studio. Mario brings 35+ years of experience in educational design, as well as corporate office buildings, medical suites, commercial tenant improvements and parking structures. His knowledge of the California Building Code and expertise working with regulatory agencies has been beneficial on our projects with Huntington Beach City School District, Paradise Unified School District and Red Hook Capital Partners.

Mario spent his early childhood in Mexico City, where he was born, and moved to California at the age of 10. A resident of Southern California ever since, he and his family have immersed themselves in the culture of the area. Mario is an avid gardener and enjoys playing futbol with his sons. Learn more about Mario …

Paradise High School Reconstruction  |  Paradise Unified School District


What is your hometown, or where do you live currently and what do you like about it?

I was born in Mexico City, but I consider Santa Ana, CA my hometown since I came to this country when I was 10 years old. I currently live in Garden Grove, CA and one of the activities I love in the city is the Strawberry Festival.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?

One of my favorite foods is enchiladas with green sauce.

What is your favorite song, movie or book?

One of my favorite songs is “Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow (it makes me think of my daughter Carolyne!). Favorite movie is Coco — a movie that I enjoy with my family. I enjoy reading the collection of Martian Tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Peterson Elementary School Modernization  |  Huntington Beach City School District


Who is your hero or a person that inspires you?

My hero is my grandma on my father’s side. At a young age she left her home and kept the family connected through her cooking for special celebrations. I love helping make tamales by her side.

What is a typical weekend for you (i.e. what are your hobbies, interests, etc.)?

On the weekends I like to work in the garden. It relaxes me. The other activity I enjoy is playing futbol (American soccer) on Sunday and having my two kids, Mario David and Kevin, playing alongside me.

How did you find architecture as a career?

In middle school I took a woodworking class. To get familiar in measurements, I was introduced to drafting which rolled into high school architectural classes. From there, I was able to design a house for my mother as a teenager.

What is a building and/or destination that inspires you and why?

There is a museum in Mexico City known as La Casa Azul, which is the former home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The house has beautiful, tranquil gardens, which has inspired my love for gardening. La Casa Azul also has a studio with an abundance of natural light where Frida Kahlo would work on her paintings.

La Casa Azul  |  Mexico City, Mexico


What is your most memorable project and why?

I was part of the Richard Neutra’s Arboretum Building Rehabilitation team in the City of Garden Grove. The construction of this building was the vision of Reverend Robert Shuller, who was holding church in a drive-in theater in the 1950’s! As it was described in a personal book of my project manager, Mr. Jim Wirick, “They passed the plate again and again. And, after several years, had enough money saved up to buy some acreage in Garden Grove.” The makeshift walk-up church later became known as the Arboretum. The scope of the renovation was originally supposed to be carpet and paint. However, over the years, water intrusion damaged the building and the 25-foot-tall windows started to buckle, which required more significant rehabilitation.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Studio W Architects?

I like the way we support each other on projects and our efficiency in developing construction documents.

What project have you worked on at Studio W Architects that made you grow the most professionally? Why?

I helped develop the project documents for the Paradise High School Classroom and Administration Building, Peterson Elementary School Modernization and Santa Ana Scholarship Prep Academy. Santa Ana Scholarship Prep Academy has been approved by various jurisdictional agencies, such as the local fire and police departments, public works department, planning department and building department. It makes me appreciate working with the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and having a single set of drawings under a Bluebeam session for tracking! It has been a process with some bumps along the way, but the final product will benefit the students attending this school who are preparing for future scholarships.

Santa Ana Scholarship Prep Academy  |  Red Hook Capital Partners