About Us

Honolulu-based WhiteSpace Architects is dedicated to innovative and sustainable design that embraces the way that its clients live, work, learn and play. Long before “green building” became a national movement, WhiteSpace Architects was creating designs that work in harmony with the natural environment.

Founded as Philip White Architects in 1983, the firm has earned a reputation for creating spaces that enhance, inspire and enrich people’s lives while honoring the cultural fabric that embraces them.

The WhiteSpace ‘ohana is nimble, creative and responsive, but – most importantly – client-centered. The company prides itself on its ability to work intimately and collaboratively with diverse organizations and individuals to produce architecture suited to the style and demands of each project, whether commercial, institutional or residential.

Philip "Pip" White

Principal • AIA

Pip began his career in architecture nearly 40 years ago. Fueled by an innate aesthetic sense and environmental sensitivity coupled with his personal values of integrity and resourcefulness, he founded Philip White Architects in 1983. Now known as WhiteSpace Architects, the firm maintains the spirit of purpose and deep understanding of design he instilled in its foundation.

As a seventh generation kama’āina and keen traveler, Pip understands the design characteristics that make Hawaiian architecture unique and appropriate for an island lifestyle. His signature style follows no established cast, and Pip believes that each project should reflect the unique needs of client and location. He often notes that architects are often entrusted with helping people realize their dreams and is grateful for that privilege. 

Pip has developed a diverse portfolio of projects including custom homes, commercial centers, hotels, educational facilities, and public spaces on every major Hawaiian island. His leadership as president of WhiteSpace Architects inspires consistently excellent award-winning work, but he maintains that assembling a team with true depth and diversity of talent in every position to be his greatest achievement.

He is an active member of our community and a thoughtful mentor. Through his leadership roles on several nonprofit boards including the University of Hawai’i School of Architecture’s Asia Pacific Center for Architecture, the Hawai’i Architectural Foundation, and the American Institute of Architects, Honolulu Chapter (AIA Honolulu), he has helped shape the islands’ architectural community and many of its future leaders. 

If not at work, you can most likely find Pip walking the beach or out surfing. He also cherishes his time away from the office spent with his wife, three sons, grandson, and rambunctious Irish Setters.

Laura Ayers

Principal • AIA, LEED AP

Laura has over two decades of experience in the field of architecture in Hawai’i. Her exceptional design sense, tactful project management skills, and cheerful demeanor combine to benefit clients and drive colleagues in their pursuit of design excellence to exceed client expectations.

Laura received her B.S. in Architecture at Georgia Tech and her Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan. Her undergraduate curriculum included a year at the prestigious École d’Architecture La Villette in Paris, France. 

After joining Philip White Architects in 2001 and partnering with Pip on many of the company’s most notable and award-winning commercial and residential projects, Laura’s commitment and talent earned her a leadership role in the firm. She leads our diverse team through the rigors of a demanding profession with a friendly smile and sense of humor. She is respected for her technical acumen, collaborative work style, and community involvement. Through organic mentoring and leadership workshops, Laura shares her expertise with young architects, develops their professional leadership skills, and encourages them to become involved in their communities. 

When not in the office, she loves spending time with her husband and two children.

Laurel Swan

Project Architect • AIA, LEED AP, D.Arch

Laurel brings a designer’s passion and a get-it-done drive to her work, constantly striving for the best architecture that also meets clients’ budget and schedule. She is based in Waimea and leads our new Big Island branch. 

Laurel grew up in Connecticut and after graduating from Haverford College, she first arrived on the Big Island in 2005. After spending four years gaining invaluable experience in the construction industry, she went on to pursue her doctorate degree in architecture from UH Mānoa. She joined WhiteSpace in 2013 and after briefly departing for New York in 2016, she has rejoined us and now oversees residential, educational, and commercial projects across Hawai‘i County. 

While her husband and three kids keep her busy with their weekend adventures, you can often find her out in her garden, baking, or perhaps even paragliding!

Ana Ruiz

Project Architect • AIA, D.Arch

Ana’s strong design sense, resourcefulness, and work ethic are the core of her process and approach to projects. She views every project as a puzzle and enjoys working directly with clients to collaboratively develop the best design solution for their needs. Her versatility enables her to make significant design contributions and effectively manage intricate projects, from luxury homes to commercial tenant improvements to educational facilities.

Born and raised on both sides of the Texas/México border, Ana earned her B.S. in Architecture from Texas Tech University in 2012, studied in the Masters program at the University of New Mexico, and was later drawn to Hawai’i to earn a Doctorate in Architecture at UH Mānoa. She has been a member of the WhiteSpace team since 2015, and has a passion for vernacular and bioclimatic architectural design that embraces and responds to the local environment and its effects on human perception.

Outside of work Ana enjoys globetrotting, learning about different cultures, and exploring Oahu’s mountains and beaches with her husband. Their home is also shared with a myriad of animals including her axolotls, chameleon, and fish.

Chris Branch

Project Architect • AIA

Chris is a Hawai’i licensed Architect with over 20 years of combined experience designing and managing residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

Originally from Oregon, Chris moved to Hawai’i in 2008 and brought his strong background in the construction side of the industry with him. His lifelong passion for outstanding residential design has led him to WhiteSpace Architects in 2022 where he leverages his considerable experience and holistic approach to solving design challenges, managing budgets, schedules, and fostering relationships with project stakeholders.

Outside of the office you can find Chris on the Jiu-Jitsu mats, in the water, or on the beach with his golden retriever Huey.

Alessandra "Ali" Olsen

Architectural Designer • Assoc. AIA, D.Arch

Ali seeks practical and beautiful solutions to problems big and small. She carries her strong design sense with her through all phases of a project, ensuring the final product always feels cohesive and thoughtful.

Ali was born and raised in Kailua and is a proud alumna of ‘Iolani High School. After earning her Bachelor of Environmental Design and her Doctorate of Architecture from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, she worked in real estate marketing as well as architecture, where she specialized in complex educational projects.

On the weekends, you can find her out hiking or at the beach, spending quality time with her husband and two dogs.

Alessandra Marsh

Architectural Designer • Assoc. AIA

Alessandra Marsh is an experienced designer, project manager and contract administrator. As an architectural designer at WhiteSpace, Alessandra will focus on residential, educational and commercial projects including master planning for a new multigenerational family retreat in Makiki, and the major renovation and expansion of an existing Kailua residence.

The Mānoa resident is a graduate of Punahou School, and received a Bachelor of Architecture from California College of the Arts. She is returning to Hawai‘i after 15 years studying and practicing architecture in San Francisco, where she most recently served as a hospitality junior designer at Arcanum Architecture managing residential and commercial projects. Other previous positions include intermediate designer at A. Gordon Atkinson AIA.

After being away for so long, she is diving (no pun intended) back into all her outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking, foraging, and sailing with her dad.

Rebecca "Becky" Ziebelman

Architectural Designer • Assoc. AIA

Becky brings a dedication to quality and sensible design aesthetic to her work, and she enjoys most the opportunity for collaboration and learning that every project brings. Her design focus is on developing clear solutions that respond to the client’s needs while remaining responsible to the community and context.

After growing up in Illinois, Becky left the Midwest to earn her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from CU Boulder, then spent time working in project management and retail construction, and continued onto her Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas. After temporarily living in Hawai’i, she is now part of the team as a remote worker from California, where she works on multiple residential and educational projects.

On the weekends you can find her out exploring the island’s hiking trails with her husband and dog, lounging on the beach, or working on a home project.

Stacey Villarino

Architectural Designer • Assoc. AIA, D.Arch

Stacey has great interest in the human experience of the built environment, small to large scale. As a designer, she feels a vast responsibility to create spaces that can improve an occupants health and well-being.

Born and raised on the Garden Island of Kauai, Stacey graduated from Waimea High School, and from there moved to Oahu to pursue a degree in architecture as well as become a licensed cosmetologist. She graduated with a Doctorate of Architecture degree in 2021 from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Outside of the office you can catch her walking her pitbull/mastiff puppy, hiking, or enjoying a nice round of golf.

Ivy Tejada

Architectural Designer • AIA

Ivy’s enthusiasm for new challenges and steep learning curves means she tackles each new project with creative ideas and fresh energy.

Raised in Lahaina, Maui, Ivy is a proud graduate of Lahainaluna High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from UH Mānoa in 2017 and is currently working towards her Doctorate of Architecture dissertation, which focuses on sense of place within local urban environment. She joined the WhiteSpace team in 2021, and is working on a variety of residential and educational projects.

Outside of work, you can find her trying new recipes, reading, watching documentaries, and capturing scenes and people with her film camera.

Felice Geoghegan

Office Manager

Felice joined WhiteSpace Architects as office manager, overseeing all administrative and operational functions, she also provides general support to our six architects and designers.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Felice has lived in Honolulu for some two decades with her husband and four daughters.

Outside of the office, she is an accomplished baker who shares her experiences with cookies, breads, cakes and other sweet & savory treats online. If you are intrigued by Espresso Banana quick bread with Espresso Streusel or Kladdkaka-sticky chocolate cake, be sure to visit her popular blog “All That’s Left are the Crumbs!”.

Kahea & Hina

Office Pups

Kahea & Hina are WhiteSpace’s father-daughter Irish red & white setter duo. They are in charge of office morale and ensuring sure no food goes to waste. If they aren’t barking to greet you at the front door, they’re napping under the conference table or someone’s desk.

Caution, they express their love with drool.