People

Square Feet Studio is an award-winning architecture, planning and design firm based in Atlanta. We make every square foot of our designs smart, simple and sustainable by using resources that minimize the impact of our work on the environment and maximize its benefit for future generations. We create beautiful spaces that last a long time. Our team members come from a variety of backgrounds in architecture, interior design, fine arts and urban planning. We work collaboratively, matching our unique skills and experience to every project. We strive to make the design and construction process a rewarding experience for our clients. We love learning about what inspires them and watching our shared visions come to life.

JOHN BENCICH, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED AP
Founding Principal

 

John is the founding principal of Square Feet Studio and an architect with over 20 years of experience designing new uses for old buildings. He has been an adjunct faculty member at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, as well as Southern Polytechnic State University. His commitment to the profession is highlighted by his years of volunteer work with the American Institute of Architects, serving as the Atlanta chapter President in 2012. His work has been recognized for design excellence by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, Urban Land Institute, International Interior Design Association and the AIA. John’s an avid baseball fan, and enjoys camping, hiking and kayaking. If he weren’t an architect, he’d be a park ranger.

john@squarefeetstudio.com

VIVIAN BENCICH, IIDA, ASID
Founding Principal

 

Vivian and her husband John founded Square Feet Studio in 2001, with the desire to seamlessly combine interior design and architecture in one distinctive practice. As a registered interior designer with a background in architecture, her work strives to honor the relationship between interior design and the larger context of a building’s history and urban environment. Vivian received a Master of Architecture from Georgia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and French from Vanderbilt University. A skilled list maker and confirmed luddite, she enjoys guiding clients through the design process with determination, passion, and humor.

vivian@squarefeetstudio.com

BLAKE BURTON, AIA
Partner

 

Blake is a partner and licensed architect who has been with Square Feet Studio since 2011. Blake earned his master’s from Georgia Tech in 2009, where he won first prize in an international student design competition. He was also a finalist for the Masters Prize competition for his thesis on the relationship between architecture and photography. When not practicing architecture, he pursues his other passion, photography. His multi-year project documenting the renovation of Ponce City Market was published in June 2018. Blake earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Birmingham-Southern College, where he was also a member of their Division I baseball team.  Blake and his wife Tessa love to travel to far flung destinations, and enjoy spoiling their dogs.

blake@squarefeetstudio.com

MAGGIE JONES
Managing Director

 

Maggie, a Nashville native, graduated from The University of the South (Sewanee) with a degree in International and Global Studies. Her myriad experiences and interests range from teaching students in Monte Verde, Costa Rica to managing SoulCycle Studios in Manhattan and the Hamptons, to interior design and conceptual development for numerous projects here in Atlanta. She has worked in Washington and New York as an event coordinator and client services professional for an international firm, and locally as Director of Operations for an eclectic design shop and service. Maggie moved to Atlanta in 2016 from NYC and quickly fell in love with the city. She settled down in a historic Art Deco condo and spends her weekend hiking, antiquing, and volunteering at Angels Among Us, a non-profit dog rescue organization.

maggie@squarefeetstudio.com

 

HOLDEN SPAHT, RA
Creative Director

 

Holden is an architect and urban designer who has worked on a variety of project types and scales throughout his career – from a master planned resort in Mexico while working at EDAW to a 3,600-unit residential complex in Istanbul with Perkins+Will to a restaurant patio on the Atlanta Beltline. His background and interests span the disciplines of landscape, architecture, and interiors, with a special focus on adaptive reuse.  He holds a BA in History from the University of Georgia and Master’s degrees in both Architecture and City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech.  His design approach is rooted in a human-scaled experience of place and in a belief that the best opportunities to make architecture are discovered in the found conditions of a project’s physical, cultural, and historical context. Holden’s actively involved in his East Atlanta neighborhood, enjoys traveling with his wife, Christa, and their son, Julian, and making up silly songs about their short-legged possum dog, Nellie.

holden@squarefeetstudio.com

EMILY MASTROPIERO, RA
Senior Project Manager

 

Emily is a licensed architect and received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Throughout her education her curiosities were within parametric design coupled with explorations of unconventional material uses. Emily’s professional background is in hospitality design–ranging from working on a 5,000 room hotel in Saudi Arabia, to designing a feature ceiling in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium during her time at tvsdesign. Upon moving to Atlanta, Emily was immediately intrigued by the diversity of styles between the neighborhoods of the city. Finding her home in a historic quadplex south of Piedmont Park, she’s often at the dog park on the weekends chasing around her doodle mix puppy, Harper.

emily@squarefeetstudio.com

CAROLYN BALFOUR, NCIDQ
Senior Interior Designer

 

Carolyn is an interior designer who came to us from Chicago where she worked for high-end residential and boutique hospitality firm, Nate Berkus Associates. After receiving her Master’s in Interior Design from Florida State University, she started her career in furniture design for the mass market. This allowed her to travel the world while digging into the details to learn and understand materials and fabrication at an elemental level. She has a passion to make the spaces she designs have meaning, character, and depth by focusing on everything from space planning through accessories to bring joy to the people who use them. She moved home to Atlanta for many reasons, the main one being so her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dixon, could grow up with a yard to play in. She lives in East Atlanta and on weekends you can find her outside – running all over the city with Dixon, biking, or exploring new places with her husband, Brett.

carolyn@squarefeetstudio.com

EMILY WIRT, NCIDQ, LEED Green Assoc.
Project Manager

 

Emily received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from the University of Georgia and a Master of Architecture degree from Georgia Tech. As a designer, she has worked in public art commissions, fabrication, corporate interiors, healthcare design, and hospitality. She strives to instill equity within the architecture and design profession and continues to find ways to promote diversity and creativity within the field through participation in multiple professional organizations, conferences, and local outreach. Emily believes in an honest approach to progress through architecture, and she finds meaning within every project through its history, community, and context, weaving a unique narrative for every site. When not at the drafting table, Emily can be found hiking through forests, searching for constellations in the night sky, or swimming in a body of water.

emily.wirt@squarefeetstudio.com

SEAN FLAHARTY, RA
Project Manager

 

Sean is a licensed architect who was born and raised in Houston, Texas and received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University. He participated in a study abroad program in Rome and completed his thesis, designing and building a two-bedroom ‘20K Home’ for a family in need, at Auburn’s Rural Studio in Newbern, AL. From there, he moved to New York City where he worked at MNA (Michael Neumann Architecture), designing retail and hospitality environments across the country, and at Resolution: 4 Architecture, designing custom, high-end, modular homes throughout the Northeast. His cumulative experiences and interests have led him to value architecture that is rooted in its place, truthful in its use of materials, and thoughtfully resolved down to the smallest details. When not in service of architecture, Sean enjoys mixing cocktails, making excessive travel itineraries, and watching Auburn football in the fall.

sean.flaharty@squarefeetstudio.com

 

VICKI HUGHES
Studio Manager

 

Vicki was raised in the greater Atlanta area and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing. Upon graduation, she headed north to work for Anthropologie as a Visual Manager where she traveled throughout Connecticut, New York, and much of New England, creating the visual environment for various store locations. Vicki has also worked as a freelance artist, graphic designer, and interior stylist for clients large and small. She has a passion for all things creative and loves learning new skills.

vicki@squarefeetstudio.com

KATE KINI
Design Professional

 

Kate grew up in the suburbs north of Atlanta and always knew in her heart she would eventually settle down in this verdant, charming city. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University. Shortly after, she moved back to Atlanta where she rejoined the SFS team after interning with us the previous summer. Her experience also includes internships at Atlanta firms Lord Aeck Sargent and Lightroom, as well as King + King Architects in Syracuse. Kate’s approach to design is both pragmatic and cognizant of the human experience – she is keen to make a positive impact on her community. Outside of work, you can find her staying active at the climbing gym or on the Beltline, trying a new restaurant or brewery, and soaking up some sun outdoors while daydreaming about adopting a dog one day soon.

kate@squarefeetstudio.com

VALENTINA RAMIREZ
Design Professional

 

Valentina has moved up and down the East Coast from Charlotte to Washington D.C. before finally making her way down to Georgia, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from the University of Georgia. As a designer, she firmly believes that her responsibility lies in pursuing creative solutions that empower the end user. Valentina’s approach to design is driven by curiosity, while encouraging inventiveness and collaboration, to enable a thorough examination that reveals the full potential of any project. Coming from Colombian immigrant parents, she has a natural drive for hard work that is balanced with a passion for music, spending time outdoors, and making the perfect cup of coffee.

valentina@squarefeetstudio.com

MICHAEL KOLINER
Design Professional

 

Michael’s interest in the built environment began in high school when they built a professional grade skatepark. Fascinated by the relationship between construction, athlete, and spectator led them to the Maryland Institute College of Art, where they received a BFA in sculpture. After graduating, Michael worked as a studio assistant giving them the skills to lead their own public art projects. They were invited by Fung Collaboratives to create seating for the public art exhibition NONUMENTS, and then completed projects in Redwood City, CA and at The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. They were awarded the Artist Supporting Artists Fellowship at The Vermont Studio Center and the Windgate Fellowship at the Penland School of Craft. Following an emerging interest in design, Michael received their M. Arch degree from Georgia Tech where they collaborated with Professors Jonathan Dessi-Olive and Jim Case to construct the first pneumatic tensegrity structure. They won two MasterPrize awards for this work and exhibited the structure in Barcelona and Havana. When the workday is over, Michael is mountain biking with their friends or in the shop making furniture.

michael@squarefeetstudio.com

LINDSAY HOFFMAN
Design Professional

 

Lindsay, an Atlanta native, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from Georgia State University. She approaches her work through the lens of connection: with one another and with the world around us. She values community-centered design and sees architecture as a vessel that carries human stories and promotes diversity. Lindsay’s professional experience includes the tenant-landlord studio and global accounts team at Nelson where she worked on a variety of projects including the design for Industrious in historic Ponce City Market. On weekends you’ll find Lindsay with her nose in a book, cycling through Midtown, or practicing yoga with her cat, Lorelai.

lindsay@squarefeetstudio.com

MANUELA ALVAREZ
Interior Design Intern

 

Manuela is an aspiring design professional who will be graduating in 2022 with her BFA in Interior Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, she has had a diverse life full of experiences and change, but with one constant: her love for design. The science and psychology that hides within the process is what keeps Manuela’s creativity going. She sees design as a powerful good that reacts, connects, and affects human altruism. She has always been fascinated by the inner connection between humanity and its surroundings, a key spark that has flourished into her passion for interior design and architecture. When not at the studio, Manuela can be found at her new place in Buckhead, trying out local restaurants, or hiking up the closest mountain.

manuela@squarefeetstudio.com