studio M MERGE

Seamlessly Merges the Indoor and Outdoor Spaces that You Live, Work and Play In

We provide full professional services from master planning, design, design development, construction documents, permits and construction administration for remodels, additions and new construction. As architects and landscape architects we also provide full site and garden design, integrating your indoor and outdoor spaces. We design urban farms, chicken coops and runs. We design playgrounds and outdoor classrooms for schools and now for homes!

We design the seamless integration of a remodel, addition or new construction with the exterior rooms and garden of the property. They work together from design through construction and all of your professional services for architecture and landscape are under one roof. We provide early estimates for the design so our clients can prepare their budget and plan accordingly. We provide a fee analysis throughout the process so our clients can track our billing relative to the scope of the project.

Focus + Services

Academic Building Design

Design for learning.
Academic Building Design at the head of the class.

At studio M we turn classrooms into learning laboratories. The design solutions we create facilitate teaching and learning across academic settings, inside and out. Studio M specializes in small to mid-scale academic building remodels, including outdoor classrooms and architecture supporting playground spaces. Working with students, teachers and administrators we create supportive, efficient, flexible, and durable solutions. Because the environment in which children learn and teachers instruct influences academic success, we design for hands-on as well as plugged-in learning. Instead of classrooms, we create places where teachers and students can share and learn together. These aren’t classrooms; these are launch pads.

studio M Focus on Academic Building Design

  • Outdoor Classrooms
  • Playground Storage and Bathroom Facilities
  • Edible Garden and Urban Farm infrastructure: storage, coops, shelter
  • Small to mid-scale Academic Building renovations
  • Classrooms, bathrooms and teacher lounges.

studio M Academic Building Design Services

  • Property Analysis
  • Master Planning
  • Design
  • Workshops, (Student, Teacher and Academic Administration)
  • Permitting
  • Construction Documents
  • Construction Administration
  • Post-Construction Evaluation

Landscape Architecture

Process. Purpose. Place.
Amazing space.

Studio M merges the science and art of design, planning, management, and stewardship of the land to create amazing places. Landscape architecture from Studio M doesn’t complicate, it simplifies and unifies building and land into a harmonious, coherent whole. We begin by listening to our clients. We analyze their needs, tackle their goals and address program demands, to determine the best purpose for each project. We combine resource conservation, aesthetics, style, and efficiency to provide a context for our design concepts and meet our client’s needs. Then we work to generate creative solutions for each particular place. Our work is modern at its core, but not repetitive or predictable. Each project is unique.

studio M Focus on Landscape Architecture

  • Residential Landscape Architecture, from small urban properties to large estates
  • Urban Farm Design
  • Playground Design

studio M Landscape Architecture Services

  • Property Analysis
  • Master Planning
  • Design
  • Permitting
  • Construction Documents
  • Construction Administration
  • Post-Construction Evaluation
  • Maintenance Plans

Playground Design

Childs play is serious business at studio M.
Playground Design to build strong bodies and develop healthy minds.

At Studio M we believe that learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door. That’s we why design playgrounds for discovery and development that make a difference. Playground Design at Studio M combines rigorous attention to our client’s goals, site-specific opportunities and the latest research on the need for children to explore, experience, and interact with the natural world. The playgrounds designed by Studio M provide opportunities and equipment to stimulate the senses and develop the coordination that builds healthy minds. The result is a safe place to play, a rich environment to explore, and an outdoor extension of the classroom where imaginations can run free. 

studio M Focus for Playground Design

  • Residential Play Spaces for children and families
  • Preschool & K-8 Play Spaces and Sport Courts
  • Outdoor Classrooms
  • Learning gardens
  • Playground storage
  • Bathroom Facilities

studio M Playground Design Services: 

  • Property Analysis
  • Master Planning Design
  • Student, Teacher and Academic Administrator Workshops
  • Permitting
  • Construction Documents
  • Construction Administration
  • Post-Construction Evaluation
  • Maintenance Plans

Residential Design

Residential design done right.
Room to grow on.

At studio M thoughtful residential design begins with you. Your home, your needs, your goals. We work with homeowners as part of a team. Once we understand your goals, we determine a budget, and then provide clear, strong design options.

studio M provides residential design services that are modern at their core. Our work takes into account the specifics of your property, your home, and your preferences. To create homes that reflect your personality, we collaborate. We listen. Our approach begins with an understanding that the spaces we design will shape the activity of our clients’ lives. So we take the opportunity seriously and design with great care. And we approach each project, from small bathroom remodels to new homes, with the same attention. The result is as unique as you are.

At the end of the day, your new residential design from studio M will reflect who you are and support how you want to live.

studio M Focus on Residential Design

  • New Construction
  • Residential Remodels
  • Urban Farm Design: chicken coops, rabbit warrens, edible garden architecture

studio M Residential Services

  • Property Analysis
  • Master Planning
  • Design
  • Homeowner Workshops
  • Permitting
  • Construction Documents
  • Construction Administration
  • Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Urban Farm Design

Urban Farm Design: Growth Industry
studio M plants the seeds of growth.

From beekeepers in Brooklyn to growing tomatoes in West Oakland, the Urban Farm is a grass roots movement that combines an increasing realization of the importance of eating healthy food, a drive toward sustainable self-sufficiency along with a desire to connect to the natural world.

When you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, studio M is ready to help. We design urban farms and city gardens that turn vacant lots or your back yard into growth opportunities. Studio M combines residential landscape design, landscape architecture and playground design to bring the farm-to-table movement home.

We have defined our work within the movement into two types: Urban Farms and Edible Gardens.

studio M Urban Farms: a plot to take over food production

Studio M works with cities, local planning boards, and neighborhoods to transform unused properties into thriving sites for food production. Studio M designs farms that combine, vegetables, fruit and herbs as well as chickens, bees, rabbits, and in some cases, goats, ducks and turkeys. 

Before studio M designs an urban farm, we consider its implications on the neighborhood. We plan for issues such as noise, smell, water quality and drainage. Because planning and zoning regulations for urban farms differ from city to city and are constantly in flux, studio M provides research services to determine the rules and regulations and best practices for the client’s urban farm goals.

studio M Edible Gardens: connect to your roots

A studio M edible garden becomes an integral part of your home landscape design, producing beauty along with a steady supply of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Edible gardens typically include raised or in-ground vegetable and herb beds, berry patches, and fruit trees. In addition to designing your edible garden, studio M will provide you with the resources and education to ensure that you will produce healthy food for seasons to come.

See Research Section for information about Studio Farm

studio M Focus on Edible Gardens

  • Residential Edible Gardens and Urban Farms
  • Community Edible Garden Design
  • Non-Profit Edible Garden Design
  • Preschool and K-12 Edible Gardens

studio M Edible Garden Design Services 

  • Property Analysis
  • Master Planning
  • Design
  • Homeowner, Student and Teacher Workshops
  • Permitting
  • Construction Documents
  • Construction Administration
  • Seasonal Planting Plans


Research + Community


We build relationships.

Successful designers know that better communication leads to better design, and to happier clients. Andrea Sessa, principal and owner of studio M, has developed a short seminar called Building Relationships, which she presents to builders, designers, and homeowners. Recommended for anyone embarking on a new building or design project, taking this seminar means never saying “I wish I’d known that before we got started!” Rooted in Andrea’s professional and academic career, Building Relationships draws from communication theory, psychology, and finance to get everyone on the same page before pen is put to paper, before the foundations are poured, before the first plants are dug in. Building Relationships examines the separate and sometimes overlapping roles of homeowners, building contractors, landscapers, and architects. Attendees will learn specific, practical communication skills designed to streamline and clarify the process. The result is better relationships, better design, smoother decision-making and ultimately healthier budgets.


Energy: We look comprehensively – the green master plan

Better data means better design at studio M. Gathering information about their past projects to inform their future work, studio M maintains a database of design elements and plant selection. This methodical approach that can lead to the most energy efficient design solutions available.

Urban Farming

Urban Farming: From seedbed to test bed

Meet the studio M Research Farm. Located just outside the studio M workspace in Oakland, the “back-forty” not only produces eggs from four hens, but vegetables, herbs and fruit. The backyard farm serves as a rich source of inspiration and a testing ground for new ideas. This ongoing project keeps us all grounded.


We design and guide: Montessori Unit of Study – Architecture and the Environment

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment” “Based on “hands-on” exploration of concrete materials, her system allowed children to acquire a greater depth of conceptual knowledge, through the actual manipulation of physical objects.” Beginning with her son’s enrollment in the Oakland Montessori School, studio M Principal Andrea Sessa has become interested and involved in the Montessori teaching method. Observing how Montessori children are encouraged to explore their own relationship to the built and natural environment, she was inspired to develop a set of architectural teaching materials and a corresponding Unit of Study for grades K through 5. Andrea was also a member of the design team for the new school building and play yard/garden renovation. This involvement in education has been another opportunity to spread the tenets of responsible design, green building practices, and appropriate material use.

Global Community

Dining for Women |

Dining for Women is a global giving circle dedicated to helping women and girls in the developing world achieve their potential, gain equality in their countries and cultures, and overcome economic limitations and social bias.

Project Manager Rachel McQueen: founder of Oakland’s first Dining for Women Chapter
Principal Andrea Sessa: Member

Architecture for Humanity |

By tapping a network of more than 50,000 professionals willing to give their time and expertise to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford their services, we bring design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed. Each year 100,000 people directly benefit from structures designed by Architecture for Humanity. Our advocacy, training and outreach programs impact an additional 50,000 people annually. We channel the resources of the global funding community to meaningful projects that make a difference locally.

Principal Andrea Sessa: Member of the Architecture for Humanity Chapter, San Francisco

Local Community

Feeding the Poor: Loaves and Fishes, Newman Hall

Loaves and Fishes is an outreach program to the poor and homeless in the Berkeley-Oakland area. Their monthly activities include a community dinner on the first Saturday of each month and food programs at the Men’s and Women’s Shelters in Berkeley. Throughout the year they conduct special drives for canned food, school supplies, baby items, and sundries.

Principal Andrea Sessa: Volunteer Preparing for the Monthly Community Dinner, serving over 100 people. Andrea has been providing food preparation and hospitality for over 5 years.

Creek to Bay Day, Oakland

Creek to Bay Day is part of California and International Coastal Cleanup Day, which engages thousands of volunteers in trash removal and beautification of waterways and shorelines across California, the nation, and in about 100 participating countries. Volunteers in Oakland joined these efforts by acting locally to clean trash from and beautify Lake Merritt, the Oakland Estuary and 33 creek locations. Principal Andrea Sessa and her son have participated in Dimond Park’s Sausal Creek, Creek Bay Day since 2004. Andrea is also providing pro bono design services for the replacement of a hiking trail accessed pedestrian bridge within the Sausal Creek Water Shed.

Parklets + International Park + ing Day |

PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world. The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!

Project Manager Rachel McQueen led and designed Parklets in Oakland, 2012-2013, hosted by studio M.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Oakland

Since 1976, SVdP’s Free Dining Room has provided a hot meal to the hungry and homeless in one of the deepest pockets of poverty in Northern California. The Dining Room is the largest dining facility in Alameda County providing meals to the hungry five days a week. Located at the edge of Downtown Oakland and West Oakland, the Dining Room provides a critical community service:

  • Serving up to 700 hot meals per day to people in need
  • Offering community service opportunities to over 2,000 volunteers who provide over 25,000 hours of support annually

The Dining Room is a vital doorway to other social services for those whose lives are often at a standstill.

Principal Andrea Sessa and Project Manager Rachel McQueen volunteer to design and select the vegetables and herbs for the SVDP Kitchen Garden. Andrea taught Chef Robert Dorsey’s students from the Kitchen of Champions program how to prepare planting beds, plant plants and care for future plant growth.

Questions? Contact us.