We are proud to onboard Matthew as an addition to our Principal Group as well as our Daylighting and Sustainable Design Studio. As a passionate practitioner, an educator, and an influential thought leader, Matthew is set to raise the bar in the lighting design world through the vision of HLB. Check out our one-on-one to find out what fuels his creative and technologically innovative personality!

How many years have you been in lighting design?

30 years. It began with laser lighting design. After I graduated from Cooper Union with a major in sculpture, using funds set aside from a computer graphic job for NBC News which I had since high school, I purchased several large ion gas lasers and set up shop in a LIC warehouse.  In short time I quit my job at 30 Rock and moved into the field of laser lighting designing and providing lighting displays for art, entertainment and religion. Nothing says “Let there be Light!” better than a high power laser beam.  I was state licensed and had quite the arsenal. I have many indelible memories of those wondrous years.

What brought you into the industry?

Richard Kelly. I won a grant for my light sculptures using neon, lasers and fiber optics. In doing so I learned about Richard Kelly and architectural lighting design. The permanence of light in architecture is what drew me in. I decided the pause between college and graduate school was long enough so I enrolled at Parsons, became the Richard Kelly Grant Chairperson, co-curated The Richard Kelly Exhibition with Renee Cooley and moved on to become President of the NYIES. After graduation I worked as a lighting designer for Rambusch, the Guggenheim and Synergy Lighting Consultants transitioned my firm out of entertainment and into art and architecture. By that point I was embedded in the industry.

Do you have a favorite project type?

All things Daylighting, Art Projects, Exterior Lighting and Media Facades.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I ponder scientific concepts, lately the fabric of spacetime, and I like to be active and in the open air. I mountain bike, road bike, target shoot, ride horses, star gaze, metal detect, camp in the mountains and explore new places. I enjoy being in the moment with my kids during the 95% of my spare time I spend with them, but work hard to maximize the remaining 5%.

What does your new role as an HLB Associate Principal mean to you?

Leading, collaborating, breaking new design ground – an opportunity to have a central role in HLB’s visionary plan to pioneer new cities and new markets. A place to master and mentor skills and experience acquired thus far and contribute to a legacy. Most importantly, the daily interaction with others that share a similar passion for light and live the day-to-day challenge of balancing work and life.

Where do you see HLB’s Daylighting and Sustainable Design Studio heading in the future with your new leadership?

Under my leadership I see the DSD learning, growing and taking on increasingly greater challenges. The DSD is central to HLB’s “whole building” “evidence-based” “comfort-based” and “wellness” approach. As it evolves I will steer it to familiar and unfamiliar places around which new buzzwords seem forever to reside. Our field of practice is in its infancy. The plethora of recent technological advancements available to our industry today- drones, lidar mapping, virtual/augmented reality, ai, fabrication- offers abundant possibility. Thanks to the foresight of HLB’s founding Principals and a foundation laid by the careful expertise of Daylighting Principal Hayden McKay, Daylighting Design is firmly established within HLB’s professional practice. It is built on a solid and expansive methodology on par with electrical lighting. I am actively contributing to the development of our Daylighting Design specific document set and the tools we use to produce them. As part of this endeavor I have gained valuable insight and understanding of the intense multiple office collaboration that needs to occur to properly process and respond to each of the unique project requests that come our way. Once acquired these projects continue to engage our firm on multiple levels. With the help of Daylighting Specialist Amaia Puras, I’m bringing my focus on the training of the daylighting team within the DSD. There will always be on the job learning, it fills our day with excitement and discovery, but ongoing effort is necessary to build and firmly establish skill sets to raise the bar of our expertise and allow us to exceed our client’s expectations. It is a company-wide effort. Specific combinations of these skill sets will transfer to other growing areas of specialization, such as Lighting for Health and Wellness. Mining the wealth of knowledge within the DSD, and finding ways to deliver these resources to our clients, will continue to differentiate HLB as a vital and leading edge design firm.

What inspires you the most about Daylighting?

That the photon it delivers is ancient, data-rich and destined for us.

Fun fact about yourself:

I never missed a day of school.

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