The Hord Coplan Macht Cool Box is a place to get to know some of the people and personalities who are delivering great ideas and leading work for our clients. In the Cool Box today: Matthew Fitzsimmons, a Senior Associate in our Planning Studio.

What aspect of architecture drew you to the profession in particular?

I grew up riding on slow city buses, experiencing the patterns and people of the city.  I was fascinated by the complexity and chaos of the city, a collage of rational order and random patterns. Perhaps inspired by Camden Yards, I would sketch imaginary ballparks resolving the perfect order of the diamond within the idiosyncratic context of the city block.

Did you have any reservations when deciding to become an architect? What were they – or if you didn’t, why not?

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I was inspired by my godfather, a passionate physician. In high school I had a copy of Grey’s Anatomy and interned as a nursing assistant at the old Maryland General Hospital.

Describe your “dream” project. 

My master thesis, a neighborhood revitalization design focused on daylighting a stream, would be my dream project. After spending a year studying the geography of a place, dreaming and sketching a comprehensive neighborhood design, wouldn’t it be great to have it executed.

How are you different as an architect now than you were when you first started out in the field?

I’m a bit more dangerous with Sketchup and Revit.

If you weren’t in your current Studio, which other one would you be in? 

Maybe Housing/Mixed-Use or Landscape.

What’s the key to establishing rapport with your clients?

Listening is the key to developing a rapport with clients.  It gives us the ability to detect our client’s sensitivities and priorities. In turn, we can tailor our design conversations to better articulate their vision and story.

What’s one trend you wish had never come about and why?

I wish the car had never become a permanent fixture in American culture and landscape. The infrastructure to support the car has created wasted landscapes and destroyed communities.  So many great projects are compromised by the need to find more parking spaces.

Name a trend you don’t think is going away anytime soon and why.  

The car is not going away. Our culture and way of life is deeply attached to the freedom automobiles provide. Even with improved technologies, the highways and parking fields will still be needed.

What’s something you don’t feel you can learn in school and that you have to be in the field to understand?

The business and management side of design.

What’s one surprising fact about you that most people don’t know?

I was a high school prom king.

What’s a book you read that changed your life?

The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch.