Get to Know Matthew Flores, AIA
Newly Appointed Chief Design and Creative Leader Synthesizes Firm’s Multidisciplinary Talents to Elevate Design Across Markets

Describe what you’ll be doing in your new role as Chief Design and Creative Leader. How will you and Cristi Moore work together in that shared role? What do you hope to achieve?
Cristi and I make a great team, and it’s a pleasure to work alongside her! In our roles as Chief Design and Creative Leaders, we will work together to implement elevated design principles, human-centered strategies, digital transformation and a hospitality-based approach to projects across all market sectors. We will promote a creative mindset and culture across our firm and in our interactions with our clients to arrive at out-of-the-box solutions that set our clients up for success.

What past experiences do you feel will be most applicable to your new role?
I’ve held leadership roles in many different capacities, including office and design studios, and have led designs ranging in scales from $5M to $800M. A great deal of my experience includes designing healthy spaces, including natural light and vistas, interior/exterior connection, a focus on healthy material selection, designing for personal and social well-being.

Man with glasses leaning against wall.

I also bring an evidence-based design approach that leads to spaces that are proven to make an impact in how people live, work, play and learn. Because of my background in the arts–fine art, music, building and making things–I blur lines across different mediums, life experiences, and requirements to make connections between people and their environment.

What unique skill do you pride yourself on?
Harmonizing. Whether I am singing or making “music” with other designers and engineers, my natural go-to is to harmonize … or see how things may come together. Teamwork requires harmonizing different interests, skillsets, passions, requirements, parameters etc. Design is no different. The role of an architect is not just to lead ahead of a group, but to lead a collective movement for each project so that by the end of the project, anyone on that team can clearly articulate the design story, the goals and objectives of the project. This includes designers, contractors, engineers and owners.

Man in hardhat looking at ceiling

In your opinion, what constitutes good design and/or good architecture?
Good design takes on a wide range of shapes and sizes, depending on its purpose and place in time and space. But all good design must come from a good process, which is often rigorous in nature. An incredible amount of research must go into understanding how a building can best serve and represent its occupants. The soul of an architectural design is grounded in its purpose, how it functions, and how it addresses the human condition. The epiphany or final design direction doesn’t typically happen until several iterations have been exhausted.

In the words of artist Chuck Close, “I always thought inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” To sum it up, good design must be purposeful and story-driven, serve its occupants extremely well and must have a ton of blood, sweat and tears behind it.

In what ways do you embrace AI? How are you leading this charge for the firm?
AI is basically a new colleague sitting in every architecture and engineering office across the globe. Whether or not it’s invited to the party, it is sitting at the table ready to learn and contribute. I’m certain the answer to this question will change slightly every six months. However, we are strategizing the use of this evolving tool so we can adopt and integrate strategies as they come out. 

Currently, we are using AI as a generative design tool that folds into our benchmarking and iterative design process. As we move forward, we will seek to automate design optimization across disciplines. Given the nature of our business, we are prioritizing cybersecurity measures to protect client data as well as our own as we move forward.

What gets you excited to come to work every day?
I am a maker. I thrive when I have something to build, whether it’s the design of a building, the creation of a team or a new process. Design gives me the opportunity to collaborate with others and gives me the chance to put headphones on, get into a creative zone and explore ideas.

What’s playing on your headphones while you’re creating?
That’s a tough one… It changes depending on the type of project I’m working on, the time of day, the specific task at hand, my mood, etc. I think I cover about every genre of music: bluegrass, rock, hip-hop, gospel, jazz, classical… the list goes on.

Tell us a little about your background and your family.
Art and design have always been at the core of who I am. Ever since I was a young child, my brother, our friends, and I would draw for hours at a time. My family has a history of being makers, builders, creatives, and musicians. My grandfather built railroads from Mexico to Pennsylvania. He was a jokester, and his creativity came out in everyday life, whether it was performing magic tricks or playing flamenco guitar. There are also, painters, seamstresses, crafters, singers, potters, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs in the fam. This type of creativity and work ethic is on both sides of my family, and I see it continuing in our children, as my wife and I are both hard-working creatives.

family in hard hats and safety vests