about us

ArchitecturePlus International, api(+), is a multidisciplinary design firm offering architecture, interior design, graphic design and signage, and industrial design. We develop consumer-centric concepts for retail driven environments. We specialize in food retail, specialty retail, restaurants and retail centers for a wide variety of national and international clients. Our work has been recognized for delivering differentiated, on-target solutions that connect with consumers and outperform the competition.

environments that perform

We strive to improve the retail industry by developing innovative environments where communities enjoy shopping, dining and socializing. When a consumer visits one of our stores, we want to elate them and make them feel understood. We create an intuitive, easy-to-shop layout that provides a well thought out sequence of excitement, contemplation and compelling brand connection.

strategy-driven design

It’s our mission to understand each client’s business in all its dimensions. We research target customers and the marketplace, and then pursue design strategies that help reach our clients’ goals and differentiate their stores.

talent, creativity, knowledge and experience


api(+)’s leadership team guides the vision, strategy and culture of our firm. Our executives, associates and studio directors take a hands-on approach, with active involvement in the design and delivery of projects.

juan romero, AIA, NCARB

president + ceo

Juan Romero founded api(+) in 1990 after working with some of the most respected industry leaders and architectural design firms in the world. A visionary, astute leader and entrepreneur, Juan is passionate about helping organizations grow through great design, smart branding and creative thinking.

Juan’s multidisciplinary portfolio includes award-winning commissions in architecture and interior and graphic design. He’s a frequent guest contributor to industry publications, and often presents at major industry conferences for organizations such as Food Marketing Institute, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Grocers Association and others.

When Juan isn't immersed in great architecture and design, you may find him mixing up the perfect mojito and enjoying a good Cuban cigar.

tom henken

vice president + director of design

Tom has mastered balancing emerging trends with proven, efficient retail applications. His portfolio includes early-stage concept development, branding and environmental design for many prominent national retail clients. He’s managed a wide spectrum of retail, hospitality, corporate and residential projects while working with major design firms, prior to api(+).

Often seen riding his Harley, Tom loves spending time in the mountains and relaxing to good tunes.

rita scaia

business development + licensed real estate broker

With start-to-finish retail experience including site selection, land acquisition, design, merchandising, negotiation, and opening national concepts, Rita brings a wealth of knowledge to every client and project. She knows both sides of the deal, having represented national, regional and local retailers, developers and shopping center owners.

After creating, owning and operating three upscale women’s specialty retail concepts, Rita joined Nine West and was responsible for store expansion, site selection, and lease negotiation throughout the US and Canada for seven years.

When taking a break from client relations, providing retail strategy and making deals come together, Rita’s a foodie who also enjoys interior design, wine and photography.

jan flowers

administration + associate

Jan’s been an integral part of api(+) since the dinosaur era of our firm. She’s a people person and has developed great relationships with clients and employees, both old and new, over the years. Her primary concern and pleasure - just her nature - is our clients and their wellbeing.

She’s a client liaison, proofer/editor/co-writer for marketing pieces, proposals and project-related copy, and also handles general office management. Jan’s proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, handy in Adobe and can even manage a few manipulations in CAD.

Her greatest delight is the extraordinary people (true!) who fill both her personal and professional life. A nature lover, she enjoys travel, snow, and music (with special affection and admiration for the latest generation of recording artists).

ryan martin, leed ap

design services + associate

Ryan maintains a calm demeanor while his creative mind constantly explores possibilities and fresh ideas for clients to meet their business goals through great design. With a fanatical eye for mixing color, texture, type and imagery, Ryan creates visually appealing, purposeful designs.

Canadian-born, Ryan’s experience in interior design and graphic communication spans corporate identity to information systems to set design. He’s an integral part of api(+)’s design team.

A snowboarding authority and stock market junkie, Ryan brings a powerful blend of skills and talents to the team.

judy norlin, leed ap

design services + studio director + associate

Judy is one of our resident experts in retail design and project management. Throughout her career, her roles have included store planning, prototype designer and project manager for large format retailers, client liaison, concept developer, and project team coordinator.

Among her duties at api(+), Judy is credited with managing api(+)’s Walmart team in creating interiors that help this mega-retailer achieve its mission of customer satisfaction and keeping this fast-paced client happy.

Judy loves to enjoy Florida to its maximum from water sports to football - she’s an avid Bucs fan. And please include traveling in her list of favorite things!

john scheffel

design services + studio director + associate

John’s tall in both stature and talent. His projects have spanned the globe and the U.S. Having worked with several well-respected firms, he’s seasoned in mixed-use, retail, wayfinding, entertainment, urban centers, sports, business districts, residential, theme parks, and just about every category you can think of. He brings proficiency and creative flare to the entire design process, from conceptualization to integration.

He's an advocate of collaboration, making him a great team leader. He conducted a year-long research fellowship on the topic - gaining insight from design teams at major national and international firms.

Always immersed in some great book, John spends the rest of his free time traveling and generally staying active. To look at him, you’d expect to see all 6’-5” of him on the basketball court, but he prefers to use his aim on the pool table.

david behrens

design services + associate

David’s serious manner belies a warm personality and reflects his dedication. His focused approach, interrupted on occasion by a relaxed smile, has successfully guided projects ranging in size from private resort residences to a 60,000-square- foot conference center and theater. His professional experience includes managing design and construction documentation for retail, master planning, residential and historic preservation projects.

David is proficient in AutoCAD, Revit, ADT 5, 3D Studio Viz, Sketchup 5 and Piranesi 3, and he’s well versed in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Pagemaker.

christy emery, aia, ncarb

architect + studio director + associate

Christy’s well-rounded background includes architecture and project management for retail centers, food and specialty retail, restaurants, office and multi-family projects. She has extensive retail center experience and has worked with many of the East Coast’s most prominent developers.

She’s well versed in preparing and managing the LOD process for retail documents and is proficient in AutoCAD and other leading design programs.

Christy, a Westbrook, Maine native and former Boston resident, earned her Bachelor of Architecture from Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. Her minor was engineering sciences. She recently earned her Registered Architect title, studying for and passing all her exams while multi-tasking as a mom.

fernando castillo

Design Services + Studio Director/Miami

With more than 25 years’ in the retail industry, Fernando brings diversified experience in branding, planning and design both nationally and internationally to the api(+) team. His expertise in strategic planning yields high impact, high value, award-winning results within the global retail arena.

He is a licensed interior designer skilled in architecture, merchandising, fixture systems, and overall environmental design. His portfolio includes projects in specialty retail, food retail, restaurant, entertainment, department store, mall, hospitality, and travel retail work.

Fernando holds a Bachelor of Science in interior design and an associate degree in architecture from Florida International University.

He is passionate about creating unique branded environments that drive business, and create an impact in the marketplace. Known for his retail expertise and forward-thinking ideas, he often serves as a keynote speaker for at industry conferences. He also provides guidance to local universities for curriculum, mentoring and competitions.

trish nearhoof, aia, ncarb

architect + studio director

Trish is a registered architect with more than 10 years’ experience in restaurant, specialty retail and office design, as well as construction documentation and administration. Excellent project management and leadership skills have helped her conceive, plan, produce, implement and evaluate an impressive portfolio of projects.

Trish is an early bird who is always on the go. She is up before the sun every day for a group fitness class, and on weekends she can usually be found paddle boarding, riding her motorcycle, or taking her horse for long trail rides. Some weekends you’ll find her extending her love of design to upgrading residential projects.

deborah bortolin

design services + studio director

Born and raised in Italy and the daughter of an architect, Deborah earned a Doctor of Architecture degree from IUAV University of Architecture in Venice. She established her career with her own firm in Italy designing leisure and retail centers with a small team before working with well-respected firms, Design International in London and most recently with The Jerde partnership out of Los Angeles.

Deborah leads our mixed-use and urban planning projects. She has 15 years’ experience in master planning, wellness, leisure, retail and mixed-use centers, hotel, spa, office and residential projects internationally. She is passionate about urban planning, architecture and interior design.

As a studio leader, she’s directed teams, coordinated with clients and oversaw design, budget and functionality for large-scale enclosed and open-air, mixed-use developments.

She is a new resident of the Sunshine State and in her free time enjoys spending her free time relaxing at the beach with her husband and young son.

juliette lauer

marketing + public relations administrator

Juliette is an integral part of api(+)’s marketing team and plays a role in developing client relationships through marketing, public relations and business development efforts.

She possesses a keen understanding of marketing strategy, and the cohesive messaging necessary to drive visibility and shape reputation. She collaborates with api(+)’s executive leadership to carry out marketing activities and reach the firm’s key audiences.

Juliette earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Central Florida. She also holds a certificate in public and professional writing from UCF.

Outside of the office, she can usually be found at her favorite yoga studio or the beach.

inspired solutions and
branded differentiation

our studio

Our environment inspires us. Overlooking Tampa Bay and tucked among oak and palm trees, the api(+) treehouse is a one-of-a-kind office space.