Archslate: Tell us a little bit about your background and what made you choose Architecture as a profession.
Matthew: First and foremost, I am a team player. I approach team-work like I do life, which starts with the ability to empathize and form friendships. Before returning to grad school, I used this skill to build the trust needed to move expediently on large scale construction projects, working with both owners representatives and stakeholders as well as subcontractor foremen, general laborers, and members of our internal team. I hope to bring this skill, a strong work ethic, and creative energy to an architecture firm engaged in impactful and equitable design.
Archslate: What types of projects do you see yourself working on?
Matthew: I believe architecture benefits from multi-disciplinary knowledge. I chose the field because I was interested in everything else (from economics and technology to art and anthropology). Since making that decision I have tailored my academic and professional experience to provide a working knowledge of multiple fields related to the built environment. After an undergrad degree in Real Estate Finance (and an Economics minor plus 60 hours of elective Architecture coursework), I went to work for a general contractor. I spent five years learning about construction processes and management before returning to graduate school at The City College of New York. My current academic work focuses on the intersection of data, policy and urban design, as well as social and financial impacts associated with architectural development.
Archslate: How do you describe your design style as an architect?
Matthew: I hope to work on projects that push the envelope in relationship to sustainability and equity. This includes new construction materials, building form, technology, and models of ownership. I hope to contribute analytical and research abilities, backgrounds in finance and construction, as well as the willingness to get down and dirty, whether that is in the field or in a BIM model.
I am more interested in finding form rather than making it. I think the clues to creating more fair, positive and productive environments lie in the traces of everyday life. This includes the patterns of our environment and our behavior, which can often be described as data. But this is not to say I do not have a design voice. I trust my intuition to lead me to those intersections of environmental and human behavior, and seek leverage points that may not be typical, normal, or binary. I believe in risk as a design principle which should be embraced for its productive potential, and analyzed and hedged to limit negative impacts.
Archslate: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Matthew: I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I take issue with the role of architecture as a primary servant of rich people and corporations. In five years, I plan to have started a design-build-development company which focuses on highly local interventions producing alternative typologies. I had the same goal 10 years ago, but here I am still working to gain the skills, knowledge and experience to make that possible. It is becoming more and more apparent that this goal may take time, and that there may be other avenues to bring it into fruition. It remains my goal and vision for the next five years, and I have learned to gain satisfaction in the process of getting there.
Archslate: Which is your most favorite project in your portfolio and why?
Matthew: My favorite project was the design of an autonomous city. We began with neighborhoods in which we could control/code the growth, and then began forming strategic alliances and mergers with the neighborhoods of other students. My neighborhood housed a waste collection and repurposing center designed to create local circular economies. After merging, our team produced a city manual to define the goals, metrics, and strategies that defined our city in addition to an accompanying propaganda video. Rather than using animation software, our group chose a hand-crafted aesthetic to convey an idealized "day in the life" of our city. The construction of that set and story was the most fun I have had in school or work. Here is the link to the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN24r_epOn0
Archslate: When searching for internships or jobs, what are you looking for?
Matthew: I seek a firm where people are treated with respect, internally and externally. This means people respect each other's time and goals while working together to resolve challenges. Beyond professional relationships, I think a firm's work should show respect to the environment and to the people who inhabit it. I want to work in a firm where the projects have an impact on communities and where new tools are embraced and developed to achieve these goals.
Archslate: Which firms do you admire the most that make it to your list of 'Dream job'?Matthew: Beyond the masters of form/light (Peter Zumthor, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry), the first firm I admired for their practice was SHoP Architects because of their emphasis on multidisciplinary processes and role in defining design problems as business problems. I am currently fascinated by the work of KPF's urban interface team and Sidewalk Labs who are using data analysis and developing software as new tools and methods for measuring buildings and their impacts on people, cities, and the environment. In addition to these types of firms. I also admire speculative and un-built work produced to test alternative visions of the future. For this reason I love Terreform and the work of the late Michael Sorkin.