Join us in a captivating conversation with our esteemed architect, Matt Bennett, as we unravel the fascinating journey that led him to choose the path of architecture and, ultimately, to become an integral part of CMBA Architects. In this episode, Matt generously shares the experiences and influences that shaped his career, providing a glimpse into the dynamic world of architectural design. We delve into the projects that have left a mark on him, exploring the challenges, inspirations, and triumphs that define his professional narrative.

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Episode Transcript

Skyler: Welcome to another episode of laying the foundation.

Skyler: Welcome back to another episode of laying the foundation. I'm Skylar and today I'm here with one of our architects, Matt Kruetzer, Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt: Thank you.

Skyler: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so basically we're just here to talk about you and a little bit about like, you know, how you got here at CMBA. Um, what kind of led you to become, uh, an architect and, you know, what it looks like to be an architect within that position.

Skyler: So, awesome. All right, perfect. So, first of all, tell me a little bit about yourself, Matt, you know, where you come from and. You know where you went to school or whatever hobbies you have. Any of the interesting stuff.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm originally from Ohio. I actually, yeah. Little ways from here. Um, actually grew up right outside of Cleveland, uh, a little town called Lakewood, which is the first time to the West of Cleveland.

Matt: Okay. So, uh, grew up, you know, four blocks away from Lake Erie and, uh, went to the university of Cincinnati for my, uh, both my, uh, undergrad and graduate degrees. Sure. And, uh, worked in Cleveland for, uh, several years, uh, after graduation and then, uh, had the opportunity to, uh, join CMBA and, um, came out here to Grand Island.

Matt: Sure. Uh, it's a very different place. And, you know, we've been here now for 12 years or so. And, uh, you know,

Skyler: So how did you find out about CMBA from all the way out in Ohio?

Matt: Yeah. Um, my wife and I had actually taken a road trip out here, uh, one summer and we had spent some time in Iowa and Nebraska and up in South Dakota.

Matt: And, uh, we really, uh, sort of fell in love with the area with Lincoln and Omaha and, Many of our communities and, um, we were looking for a change, looking for something a little bit different and, um, found, uh, the posting, um, that CMBA was looking and, uh, jumped on board and

Skyler: yeah, the rest is history. Awesome.

Skyler: Awesome. Yeah. No, I was, wow. Cause it's such a distance. So I was like, man, how could. How did the connection get made there, but that's awesome that, you know, you guys came over and liked everything and then sure enough, the opportunity arose. So that's always exciting. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. So, um, you mentioned you were in.

Skyler: You were doing architecture in Ohio for a couple of years before you found out about CMBA. Awesome. Awesome. Very cool So at what point along the way, you know growing up or whatever the case did you say? I think architecture might be the direction I want to go in

Matt: You know, I get this question a lot and it's kind of strange.

Matt: I can't think of any one particular time that It just dawned on me that that's what I was going to do for the rest of my life. And I can't remember ever really wanting to be anything else. Oh, okay. Um, you know, my parents have pictures of me, you know, building all kinds of crazy things with cups and blocks and whatever else I could find, you know, going back.

Matt: However long and, um, sixth grade, I remember we were doing a project specifically where we had to design a house and that was probably the first time that architecture was presented to me as a career path. Okay. And, um. You know, never really looked back since then.

Skyler: Yeah. So the flame was always there and then.

Skyler: Yeah, I guess. That flame of direction at some point. Awesome. Very cool. Very cool and then that led to you said the um which university was it again? University of Cincinnati. Cincinnati. Okay, cool. Very cool and then that's where you studied and got everything all set. Awesome. Very cool. Alright, so within so I know with CMBA, we kind of have our key areas.

Skyler: Our K12, our higher ed, our. What area do you kind of like to work within? Cause I've kind of noticed a little bit that each of the architects I've talked with so far, they kind of have some area they lean into, um, to even just a little bit more than, you know, the other areas. So what, what did you say that is your kind of like passion area?

Skyler: Yeah,

Matt: I'm really in the K 12 area has been a big part of my focus since I've been here. Um, I've always been, uh, more drawn to, uh, public architecture. Oh, okay. And, uh, that's, you know, what a big part of my studies were, um, at school and what my thesis was about and, uh, you know, I have just really liked the opportunity working with the, the school districts we've gotten to work with and some of the, the great work that we've been able to do.

Matt: Okay.

Skyler: Very cool. Now, as somebody from marketing that doesn't know a whole lot of the terminology and stuff, when you say public architecture, what do you mean by that?

Matt: Yeah, talking about, uh, just, you know, the architecture, the buildings that you think of that, you know, really make and define a city or a community or a town, you know, those sort of the special places that bring us together.

Matt: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, define who we are. So, you know, especially in a lot of our smaller rural towns. Yeah. It is the, the school that is really that, you know, that hub of activity.

Skyler: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, no, definitely schools and I don't know, government offices, I guess are the big two. Yeah. Yeah.

Skyler: But yeah, no schools. Absolutely. If you don't have somewhere for, for kids to go, then. You know, you can't move here, get jobs and have kids because where are they going to go? They're going to have to drive out of town and the school bus is going to have to pick them up from three counties away or whatever the case.

Skyler: So, yeah. And you

Matt: know, it's amazing, you know, how much the local school really defines a community. It really defines who we are as people. You know, I think. You know, even for my family and my kids, that's how you know who we describe who we are. Right. A lot of

Skyler: times. Yeah. Yeah. That mascot represents a lot more than just the, the school and the people that go there to some extent.

Skyler: It's kind of the town is. Yeah. The whatever's, you know what, insert animal here, whatever the case ,

Matt: so.

Skyler: All right. All right. Um, I guess my next question would be. Um, when it comes to, you know, you've, you're working within a K 12 design or whatever the case, um, and I know I've gotten some difficult answers from, from everybody on like, what does a typical day look like?

Skyler: Because from what I'm told, no day is typical. There is no real, like, but at the, I don't know, as best as you can, like, what does it look like being an architect and, and coming to work in the morning and, and going about whatever it is that. You guys do?

Matt: Yeah, well, and part of it has to do with the way that we, you know, approach projects here at CMBA.

Matt: But, you know, when we set up a project team to work on a project, it's generally those people and those individuals that will follow that project all the way through from generally inception through construction. Wow. And so on any particular day. You know, be splitting time between doing design work for, you know, a project that's early in development to doing technical drawings for projects that are, you know, getting closer to that start of construction and then, uh, doing

Matt: construction observation and construction administration work for projects that are in construction. And, uh, it's one of the nice things that we get to balance doing. You know, all three of those aspects on any given day, rather than, you know, Oh, you're the construction guy or you're the, you know, the technical drawing guy or, you know, whatever it happens to be.

Skyler: Okay. So you guys kind of, you have your hands in, in every like aspect of the project from start to finish.

Matt: Yeah. And it really lets us, you know, see a project grow from just, you know, that initial idea. All the way through to, you know, when we're cutting the ribbon and everything's all, all perfect. And, uh, you know, there's smiling faces everywhere.

Skyler: Yes. Which is what we go for. Right. Exactly. Awesome. Awesome. And that can be a really long, like Period of time from what I've told, like, or been told, like, I know a couple of the architects over at the Sioux city firm were just talking to me about how, like, they just finished a project that was like five year span.

Skyler: So like they can be like big projects that you guys are kind of constantly keeping tabs on or doing work for throughout that entire, you know, five years, let's say. Oh, absolutely. Wow. That's crazy. That's crazy. So what does it look like long the way when. Something like, I mean, changes probably come up or like new challenges probably come up.

Skyler: What does that

Matt: like look like? Yeah. It's cause a little bit of, uh, anxiety at first, but you know, we work through that and you know, it's not uncommon. Um, you know, as we progress through the design, there's more and more people that get involved and more and more people who share their feedback with us and more opportunity for us to go out and gather feedback from teachers, from students, from community members and, and so forth.

Matt: Okay. And, you know, each time that we do that, every little bit of feedback that we bring in, you know, has an impact and how we approach the design and how things. You know, uh, change and by us having, you know, generally the same project team that follows a project all the way through, it sort of helps us to be able to respond to those concerns and those, you know, new ideas as

Skyler: they come up.

Skyler: Yeah, no, that's awesome. That's awesome. Having like that, that constant input and, you know, new sources from around, you know, different areas from construction to the people that use the space, obviously that's like really. Great feedback to be able to get from them. So yeah,

Matt: that's what you know, we look for, you know, some of the most important is the people who are going to use it and the people who are going to work there who are going to be in that space every day.

Matt: And you know how we can make that be the best and most usable space for them. That's really one of our big goals.

Skyler: Awesome. Yeah, absolutely. That makes a lot of sense.

Matt: Attention architecture professionals, are you looking for an employment opportunity that will provide you with a wonderful work culture and a competitive pay rate?

Matt: Look no further than CMBA Architects. Our firm offers flexible scheduling, a casual dress code, and a great work environment that will help you collaborate and create. Plus, who doesn't love having

Skyler: Fridays off? To learn more about our available positions, visit the and apply to join the CNBA team.

Skyler: When it comes down to, and maybe, maybe this is just a repeat of what you just said, but when it comes down to it, what would you say is one of the like, really key aspects of making a good space using architecture and design? Mm-Hmm. .

Matt: You know, it's one of those questions that, uh, you know, they ask us in the abstract in school sometimes is, you know, what makes good space or good architecture?

Matt: And to me, a space, it. It's a good space or you have good architecture when it is usable, when it meets the needs of the people who are using that space or who the space is intended for. But also when it just has that little extra that goes beyond that, that, you know, sort of makes it special, that sort of, you know, makes it unlike anything else that makes it, you know, gives it just that, that little bit of beauty to it.

Matt: Out

Skyler: of curiosity, and I don't mean to put you on the spot, but like in stuff that you've worked on in the past, do you have any examples of something that might just like come to the top of your mind of like that little addition that you guys put on, and it can be any project that you worked on that you were like, Oh yeah, that was, that was the cherry on top.

Matt: Well, one of the first big projects I did with CMBA was the, uh, Career Pathways Institute, which was for Grand Island Public Schools. And it started out and it has evolved vastly since we did the initial design on it. But it started out as the schools were looking for a home for several of their career technical education programs.

Matt: Okay. They had bought basically an old, uh, factory space, an old pump factory warehouse, just a concrete box, nothing special about it, nothing, certainly nothing beautiful about it. And the idea was, you know, to put in these spaces like a wood shop and a metal shop and an automotive department and so forth.

Matt: But we couldn't just put that in this concrete box. We had to give it something that had, that made it special. That, you know, showed the students that this is something that is important. Showed the students that education is important. And the work and the career that they're getting into is something that is important and valued.

Matt: And so it started off by just making some little changes to how we set up the spaces and how we positioned each of the spaces within this bigger warehouse. And then we got to play around with creating, you know, special entries to each of these classroom spaces that, you know, reflect the idea of. Auto shop Sure.

Matt: And metal shop and, and wood shop and, and computer technology and so forth. Okay. And really taking those in abstract ways with materials and, and lighting and, uh, creating something really special out of that space. Okay. And it looks nothing like a warehouse today. And it is, I think, you know, really universally, um, loved by the, the students and the teachers and.

Matt: You know, the faculty as

Skyler: well. Awesome. Yeah. Keeping it from like that every day I walk in the door, I do my, my class work or whatever the case, and then I leave, like, you've got to really keep a space, interesting, exciting. And like you said, thematic in a way, which is really cool. Like to be able, I mean, restaurants do it for instance, all the time, you know, to try to like highlight whatever it is that their specialty is.

Skyler: Why not schools in the specific classrooms used for specific areas?

Matt: Yeah. And it goes a long way in a lot of our schools to show that we care about students, that what they're doing is important and that the learning is important. And architecture can go a long way in reinforcing that and really sort of displaying that to the students, to the public, and, you know, just to, to guess who happens to be in the building.

Matt: And it sort of changes the whole feeling. about the way that students approach going to school and the way that they feel about school.

Skyler: Yeah, absolutely. Keeps them invested, keeps them interested, and keeps them excited. Absolutely. Awesome. Very cool. This last question that I've got for you, it's a little bit of a plug for CMBA, I'll be honest.

Skyler: Um, but what's, what's, you've talked about, you know, how much you love architecture and some of the exciting things that you get to do within architecture, um, as a career. Um, what about CMBA as a company? What's something that you love about CMBA specifically that, um, just really defines them as a company and as an employer?

Matt: Yeah, I think, you know, as I've said with CMBA, we don't really get pigeonholed here. Right. Like a lot of firms, even firms our size, you can really get to that point where, you know, you end up being the door detail guy or you end up being the guy who designs windows or, or, or whatever. And the fact that we get to.

Matt: work on projects from inception through construction and the fact that we get to sort of ride all the ups and downs. Absolutely. Along the way and get all that experience from all those different aspects means that, you know, like we said, that every day here is um. a typical day that, you know, what I'm doing today is going to be different than what I'm doing tomorrow.

Matt: And you know, keeps me coming back every day. So

Skyler: awesome. Awesome. Perfect. Definitely keeping things fresh, keeping things new. And I'm sure you guys learn just like a copious amount along the way too, from. Everything from, uh, you know, materials and new materials that are coming into the existence and, um, practices and all the stuff in between when it comes to the architecture process.

Skyler: So.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, this is a profession that you are always learning it, right? You know, even 10, 15, 20 years out of school, you're still learning. Right. And you know, that makes it fun too.

Skyler: Sure. Absolutely. It keeps things interesting. So. Awesome. Well, that's everything I got today, man. I really appreciate you coming on the show and, and being here to talk to us about what you do as an architect and about architecture.

Skyler: Cause like I said before, I was marketing, you know, I have a lot to learn. And so I love sitting down with you guys and, uh, and talking and learning a lot about what you guys do. So.

Matt: Oh, thank you very much. It was my pleasure.

Skyler: Absolutely. Awesome. And if you, uh, also enjoyed today's episode, don't forget that you can check out more episodes of laying the foundation podcast anywhere that you can find podcasts at, whether that be Spotify, iTunes, Google podcasts, and everywhere else they can be, uh, streamed from.

Skyler: Additionally, you can check us out on social media from Facebook, Twitter, to Instagram, to LinkedIn. And of course, be sure to go over to our website at cmbaarchitects. com. You can see a bunch of the pictures from projects that we as a company have worked on, and I'm sure Matt, that you've worked on as well.

Skyler: Awesome. Fantastic. Well, Matt, thank you again for being here and thank you for listening to another episode of laying the foundation.

Post by CMBA
February 8, 2024