Get to Know Us

Get to know our world-class staff and see why we’re one of the top arts universities in the country.
Want to get in touch with us? Visit the Directories.

Mimi Sullivan

Executive Director

Mimi Sullivan is a registered Architect in California and a principal of Saida + Sullivan Design Partners (SSDP) a full service, award winning, San Francisco architectural firm.  Ms. Sullivan is just as passionate about the process of design as she is about the final built structure. She oversees community outreach, design team coordination, project management, sustainability, and construction supervision. Ms. Sullivan's 28 years of diverse architectural and interior design experience includes extensive work in award winning multi-family/mixed use/transit oriented housing as well as commercial, retail, civic building design and custom single family homes.  Ms. Sullivan’s work in affordable housing has been published in Architectural Record as well as the San Francisco AIA magazine, “Small Firms – Great Projects”.  She is both an architect and an educator. She has taught architectural design, media, and process at universities in the United States and in Japan. She was the founding director of the Graduate Architecture Program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and achieved the initial NAAB accreditation for the program in 2007.

Prior to starting SSDP in 1999 with her partner, Ms. Sullivan was teaching Japanese architectural history at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan while acting as the Resident Director for the Oregon State System of Higher Education for study abroad programs at multiple universities in Tokyo.  Ms. Sullivan was a guest critic and lecturer at Daido University in Nagoya and Aoyama Gakuin in Tokyo, Japan.  Ms. Sullivan received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Rice University with a Minor in Fine Arts, and a Master of Architecture and Master of International Studies from the University of Oregon.

Mark Mückenheim

Graduate Director

Mark Mückenheim Architekt AKNW BDA (Germany) is a licensed architect in Germany and the European Union, the principal of MCKNHM Architects, and the co-author of the book "Inspiration - contemporary design methods in architecture" released by BIS Publishers in 2012. Before establishing his own architecture practice in 2001, he worked and collaborated with different architecture firms in Germany, USA and England, gaining extensive experience from concept to realization on various projects of internationally recognized design excellence.

Mark Mückenheim has lectured and acted as a guest critic at numerous institutions in Germany, the European Union, and the US. Among other schools, he taught for more than six years at the distinguished RWTH Aachen before being appointed as a visiting professor at the TU Munich from 2009 to 2012. Since 2013, he is appointed as the graduate director of the school of architecture at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. His award winning work has been featured in various international book and journal publications and has also gained reputation through a number of exhibitions in Germany and abroad - most recently the house of architecture in Lille, France, the German Architecture center in Berlin and the 12th Architecture Biennale in Venice.

Educated in Germany, the United States, and England, sponsored by a Fulbright scholarship and a DAAD grand from the German government, Mückenheim received his Master of Architecture from Parsons School of Design, New York, and his Graduate Diploma in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.

Jennifer Asselstine

Undergraduate Director

Jennifer Asselstine AIA has 30 years of experience in architecture and design and 10 years of teaching experience. She is a licensed architect in the state of Maryland and runs her own design office in San Anselmo. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Minnesota, where she was honored with an award from the American Institute of Architects. Ms. Asselstine went on to work for RTKL and CS&D in Baltimore, Maryland. She later moved to the U.K., where she studied at the Architectural Association in London and later worked for WATG Architects. Ms. Asselstine studied at the Architectural Association in London and has worked in the U.S., London, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Sydney, Australia on a broad range of projects, from hotel and resort design and senior housing, to an IMAX theater. The Red Cross Headquarters and Blood Processing Center, which was designed by Ms. Asselstine for CS&D Architects in Baltimore, Maryland, won a Design Award from the American Society of Interior Designers. She currently specializes in single-family housing and community design work.

Eric Lum

Online Director

Eric Lum, AIA, Ph.D., LEED BD+C, is a licensed architect in the state of California and NCARB certified. He has worked for Kallmann, McKinnell and Wood Architects in Boston, Arthur Erickson Architects in Los Angeles, and Gensler in San Francisco, among others. He is a founding principal of his firm Architecture 3 (A3) and studied architecture at the University of California Berkeley, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he gained his doctorate in architectural history.

Karen Seong

Undergraduate Assistant Director of Architecture

Karen Seong is a licensed architect in California and New York, a LEED accredited professional, and NCARB certified. She developed her professional expertise while with Skidmore Owings and Merrill in New York and in San Francisco. She held leadership positions working collaboratively with large international teams on awardwinning projects ranging from high-rise to institutional buildings in the US and in the Middle East. Driven by an interest in materials and systems innovations, she helped establish SOM LAB to conduct research in collaboration with industry leaders in an effort to develop new building materials. Karen’s teaching philosophy is stimulated by an interest in seeking innovation in the margins of established practices. Her pedagogy places an emphasis on materials studies and a process-oriented design method. She firmly believes that inventiveness is the most meaningful and relevant when it is grounded in an understanding of the current limitations in the building industry. Her design research is centered on crafting a conceptual strategy to draw out latent opportunities. Karen has previously taught at UC Berkeley and has been a guest critic at various institutions in the US and in Korea. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University with distinction.

Alberto Bertoli

Chair Emeritus

Mr. Bertoli has vast experience in different areas of the architectural profession. His work ranges from the planning of shuttle facilities for the space program to the designing of a performing arts center. He most recently designed the InterContinental San Francisco hotel. His work has also been recognized by multiple AIA Chapters, the Architectural Association of France, and at numerous international competitions. Mr. Bertoli started his formal education at the University of Buenos Aires, and continued at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He has his professional license through the State of California. Before joining the Academy he was a lecturer at Cal Poly SLO, UCLA Graduate School of Architecture, and taught for more than 20 years at SCIARC.

Mark Donahue

Undergraduate Comprehensive Design Coordinator

Mark K. Donahue AIA LEED BD+C is the Undergraduate Comprehensive Design Coordinator at the School of Architecture. He is a licensed architect with more than 25 years of experience. He started his career with Antoine Predock Architect, and has worked at SOM, Gensler and HKS. He is currently a Director at Price Architects, Inc., as well as having his own practice. With a strong background in both design and delivery, his experience includes commercial core & shell, office interiors, multi‐family residential, laboratories, airports, government, educational, retail, and performance facilities. He has always made sustainable building a central goal of design, and has been instrumental in achieving LEED ratings ranging from Silver to Platinum on a number of large institutional and residential projects, including Letterman Digital Arts Center on the Presidio and the Renovation of 50 United National Plaza in San Francisco's Civic Center.

Kelton Dissel

Undergraduate First year Studio Coordinator

Kelton Dissel Undergraduate First year Studio Coordinator While scaling a frozen chain link fence in the mountains of Vals, Switzerland to get a better of view a structure housing a quarry-like spa during off season, KeltonDissel confirmed his choice of pursuing architecture as a profession. As Kelton has discovered during his own varied studies, an architect must truly be a well-rounded individual.

He received a Master’s of Architecture from Montana State University. While studying at MSU, he enjoyed a semester abroad in Europe where he was able to sketch, design, and absorb all he could from the rich history of Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Poland. To further explore the history of architecture, he received a full scholarship to attend the Prince of Wales Summer School for the Building Arts. The program’s emphasis on classical architecture was a radical departure from Kelton’s Bauhausstyle training.

With more than 13 years of professional experience, Kelton has worked on a variety of projects that include: a LEED Platinum certified house in Russian Hill, an AIA honor award-winning low-income housing project in SOMA (Plaza Apartments), and an historic Stanford University dormitory remodel (Toyon Hall) which received an AIA merit award. Kelton is licensed architect and currently Senior Designer at John Maniscalco Architecture in San Francisco.

Braden Engel

Undergraduate History Theory Coordinator

Braden Engel is a full-time faculty member and undergraduate history theory coordinator. He has taught internationally – at the Architectural Association, London, the University of Greenwich, London, and he was a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at California College of the Arts, Lecturer in Architecture at UC Santa Cruz and at the University of California Berkeley before joining the Academy of Art University.

Braden received an M.A. in Histories & Theories of Architecture from the Architectural Association, London, and an M.Arch. and a B.S. in Philosophy from North Dakota State University. His written work has been published in the United States and abroad, including The Journal of Architecture (RIBA), Planning Perspectives, AA Files, and PLAT. Braden’s current research and writing focuses on the interval between aesthetic experience and modes of presentation in architectural historiography, framed by the mixing of continental European and American pragmatist philosophies in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

David Gill

Architecture Curriculum Advisor

David Gill is a licensed architect with over 20 years of practice. He received a Bachelor of Architecture with Distinction from California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA). He went on to work for Kuth / Ranieri, for Baum / Thornley Architects, and had his own practice in Berkeley. Gill is presently a project architect at Mark Horton / Architecture in San Francisco. Recent projects include Modesto Commerce Bank, House of Air SF, House of Air Mammoth Lakes, Computer History Museum, Temple Sinai, numerous custom residential projects and a conceptual proposal for the Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio. He is designing a community arts center for Shipyard Community Arts, an organization for which Gill also serves as a board member.

Gill is also currently a faculty member at the graduate school of architecture at the Academy of Art University, teaching advanced design studios, thesis development and refinement, and materials and methods. He has also taught graduate design studios at CCA, and has been a guest critic at University of San Francisco, University of California at Berkeley and Cal Poly SLO.

David Gill's interests – both professional and academic – lie in the materiality of architecture; the tectonic, poetic and cultural meanings in fundamental materials. How these materials/meanings are perceived, in turn, inform the design process. Drawing connections is both a literal and a figurative pursuit; an endlessly evolving practice.

Nicole Lambrou

Interim Assistant Graduate Director

Nicole Lambrou received a Masters of Architecture from Yale University in the spring of 2006. In her final year at Yale she was selected as a Teaching Fellow for two graduate courses in the School of Architecture, Visual Representation and Independent Drawing Projects. Nicole is also the recipient of the Yale School of Architecture Drawing Prize, and architectural drawing continues to be an integral part of her design process.

During her work in Germany with Behnisch Architekten, Nicole had the opportunity to become immersed in design that is integrated with sustainable concepts while working on Harvard University's campus expansion. At the time she was also involved with generating graphics for a rotating exhibition, in collaboration with Transsolar, representing human impact on the planet and throughout history.

Since moving to San Francisco in August of 2007 and before founding her own practice, Nicole worked for several years at an architecture firm whose scope of work involved public housing in the city of San Francisco and public schools throughout the state of California. Through a collaborative partnership with AE Design she also completed several houses at Sea Ranch, CA. Most recently Nicole launched a green roof system that was included in the CitiesAlive Conference in San Francisco.

Nicole also participated in the AIAS conference in the Fall of 2012. She was awarded second place for the design of a public library in Gevgelija, Macedonia in an international competition sponsored by the United Nations Development Program, and has received accolades for various other architectural submissions throughout her design career. Nicole is a registered architect in the state of New York.

Benjamin Rice

Emerging Technologies Coordinator

Benjamin Rice is principal of Matter Management. Before joining Matter Management Benjamin helped deliver high profile architectural projects and competitions ranging in scope from residential, to commercial, to transportation for some of the world's leading architectural firms.

Benjamin’s work, both personal and professional, has been published and exhibited widely. Recent exhibitions include the A+D Museum in Los Angeles, the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, and the Denver Art Museum. Recent publications include On Ramp, Pidgin Magazine, TARP, eVolo Magazine, and The Huffington Post.

Benjamin is a full time faculty member and graduate coordinator for emerging technologies at the Academy of Art University. He was a Lecturer at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design and a Senior Lecturer at the California College of the Arts. He has also taught previously at the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design, as an assistant at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Princeton University School of Architecture, as well as having been involved with several international workshops. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture where he is a graduate of distinction, and his Master of Architecture from the Princeton University School of Architecture where he was a Fellow of the Graduate School.

Hans Sagan

Urban Design & Research Coordinator

Hans Sagan is a full time faculty member at the Academy of Art University and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California - Berkeley. His research, "Specters of '68: Protest, Policing and Urban Space" investigates the role of the built environment in law enforcement and spatial control over political protest under neoliberalism. His teaching deals with urbanism, evidence-based design, architectural theory and 20th Century architecture history. In his research he investigates cities and spaces as cultural phenomena, based in specific social and economic contexts, critically examining both the practices of creation and using spaces and places. He received his Master of Arts in Communication Studies (with a certificate in Cultural Studies) from the University of North Carolina. His Bachelor of Arts degree is from the University of Minnesota in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. Hans has taught Evidence-Based Design and Design Theory at the University of California, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina, and Media Studies and Cultural History at Duke University.

Vahid Sattary

Undergraduate Structures Coordinator

Dr. Vahid Sattary is a California Registered Structural and Civil Engineer and the principal of Sattary Structural and Earthquake Engineering. He has over 25 years experience in structural engineering and seismic design including the state-of-the-art design of seismic protective systems, base isolation and energy dissipation application in buildings. He has been the structural engineer for many projects including new building designs, seismic retrofit of historic buildings, and structural evaluation studies.

Vahid Sattary received his BS in Civil Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago and his MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he later also obtained his Ph.D. in Structural Engineering.

Dr. Sattary is affiliated with the Structural Engineering Association of Northern California (SEAONC) where he is an active member of the Seismology Committee. From 2006 to 2008, Mayor Gavin C. Newsom appointed him to the Building Inspection Commission of San Francisco.

Doron Serban

Undergraduate Coordinator Emerging Technologies

Doron Serban is a full-time faculty member and the undergraduate emerging technologies coordinator. His research focuses on how the transdisciplinary role of visualization in architecture can reshape the boundaries between logical and intuitive decision processes.

Besides teaching, Doron Serban is a designer working in the Bay Area. Through Doron Serban Design, his professional work navigates building design, design competitions, photography, cinematography, motion design, branding, and architectural visualization. Outside of architecture, he is a co-owner and coach of CoCo CrossFit in Concord, CA.

He received his graduate degree in architecture from Syracuse University’s School of Architecture and his undergraduate degree in music from the University of California, Riverside.

Richard Smith

Thesis Coordinator

Richard Smith is an architect and a faculty member and thesis coordinator at the Academy of Art University he has more than 30 years of broad experience in architecture focused on the design and planning of large-scale development and civic projects, healthcare, academic, and residential projects. He has worked with noted architects including Frank Gehry, Cesar Pelli, Charles Moore, and Jon Jerde, and in the offices of Buckminister Fuller, Anshen+Allen,Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Fisher-Friedman Associates. He is a specialist in the architectural programming and design of Science Centers.

Richard Smith holds a Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. He received his Master of Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, his Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California. He is a Registered Architect in California and Massachusetts.