A concept to completion building studio

Our foundation.


Workbench is a concept to completion building studio in Santa Cruz, CA.

We manage every detail of your building project: feasibility studies, property development, architectural design, general contracting, and construction management. From multi-family housing to single family homes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), mixed-use community spaces, and commercial tenant improvements, Workbench works better.

Every great build starts with a great design. Let's get to work, together.

Built from collaboration.

Workbench began as a collaboration. After developing decades of collective experience, architect Jamileh Cannon and construction superintendent Tim Gordin met while working on a 330 unit multi-family project in San Francisco, connecting over their love of building and community-building.

Brought together by shared values, they partnered to form Workbench in Santa Cruz. Their founding ethos: a shared desire to build for good, using design and construction to enhance neighborhoods and grow communities.

Inspired by the environment around us.

Our favorite new buildings feel native to their site, naturally interwoven with their surroundings while brightening street life and offering the opportunity for new community and individual experiences.

We design modern buildings in a manner that acknowledges context, designing with a respect for community and individual needs, with appreciation for local history and lore, and with reverence for the natural environment of the Central California coast.

Unique, innovative, and energetic.

Concept to completion: we’re the only design-develop-build firm in Santa Cruz. Founded by an architect and a general contractor, our comprehensive understanding of the building industry gives us an innovative, streamlined workflow: allowing us to stay on track and offering efficiencies along the way.

Modern in approach and believers in the community potential of place-making, our office buzzes with energy for what we do.


Meet the team.

Innovative. Collaborative. Dedicated.

Architects, project managers, and contractors. Friends, colleagues, parents, grandparents, and pet parents. Community stewards and elementary school volunteers. Garage sale enthusiasts, backyard gardeners, and avid readers. Surfers, hikers, yogis, and outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes.

And together, believers in the potential of great design, great buildings, and great spaces to bring together our community.

We’re hiring in Santa Cruz, CA.

Work with us


Jamileh Cannon

Founding Partner and Principal Architect

Tim Gordin

Founding Partner and General Contractor

Christy Van Wagenen

Studio Director and Lead Architect


Siena Shaw

Designer and Project Manager

Dan Stark

Designer and Project Manager

Jessica Presley

Designer and Project Manager


Brian Rubin

Designer and Project Manager

Alexandra Sklar

Designer and Interiors Specialist

Matt Van Wagenen

Construction Project Manager


Ali Scontrino

Construction Project Manager

Laura Gray

Accounting Manager


We don’t just build here.

We live here.

We are proud to call Santa Cruz home, and love being part of a community that embraces the unexpected, has a deep respect for the natural environment, and works toward social good together.

Ahead of us lies an opportunity to think creatively about building a better future for our city: to envision the place we want to grow old in and re-imagine the kind of community we want to foster. At Workbench, we want to see a Santa Cruz where all of us, regardless of socio-economic status, can afford to make a home.

Initial steps we can take: shaping our neighborhoods to be friendly and pedestrian-friendly; building spaces for gathering together; providing market-rate and affordable housing for our community; and working in collaboration with our fellow citizens to build responsibly, creating shared experiences for all.

With smart, creative solutions, we can build the Santa Cruz of the future while preserving and protecting treasured beaches, peaceful mountains, and our small-city feel. Our community of adventure seekers, entrepreneurs, surfers, students, hippies and artists is alive and well. Together, we can build a better future.

Our guiding values:


As community stewards, our first step is to analyze context, determining how we can use our work to provide value and connection points for neighbors and individuals.


Thoughtfully designed and well-constructed from quality materials, our buildings provide beauty and retain value over the long-term.


We’ve invested our years of experience in devising a streamlined workflow, allowing us to optimize for efficiency throughout the design-build process.


Openness and honesty builds mutual trust. In our actions, relationships, and decisions, we believe nothing is more important.


We believe in the power of great design to create new experiences, build personal interactions, celebrate nature’s beauty, and bring together communities.


Respect for our clients, our neighbors, our team. Respect for the materials, techniques, and skills of the trade. Respect for our community, our environment, our home.


Have a dream project in mind?

Let’s get to work, together ➝