As a kid growing up in northwest Los Angeles, Matt had an affinity for Legos and Erector sets. He would spend hours building and took great pride in his work. Later, as a high school student with a fervent passion for art and math, he began spending time at a family friend’s architecture studio where his destiny was sealed. Matt soon enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson where he received his degree in architecture. He stayed firmly planted in Arizona where he and his wife are raising their 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. Based in HMC’s Phoenix office, he’s determined to build the firm’s healthcare business and promote building design as a means to improve community health and wellness.

What does your new role at HMC entail and what do you hope to accomplish?
After more than 20 years of working the Phoenix area, I’ve spent time on the design, technical and project management end of the profession and I wanted to take that next step into firm leadership with hopes of actively participating in the profession as it redefines itself moving forward. So, I went back to business school. HMC presented an immediate opportunity to lead the Phoenix office, while also being able to foster existing client relationships. So, I’ll be balancing half my time on office leadership responsibilities and the other half in project management and technical oversight.

How do you see the architecture profession evolving, and where do you see us going?
The profession has changed. Our role has changed. Today, it’s about the architect being an extension of the owner. We need to understand our client’s core business, and partner with them to increase value in their business. We need to seek opportunities for collaborative partnerships with owners and builders. The most immediate opportunity for this is further involvement in integrated deliveries to insure that owners are receiving best value solutions.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the healthcare market and how can architects help clients face those challenges?
With cost always being a sensitive issue, the high-performance building industry must continuously be on the edge of innovation. As healthcare architects, we need to make our value known as a partner in delivering patient care. We need to facilitate a process of creating the physical environments of care, while assisting owners in strategizing the current economic environment of reimbursement. We are no longer just building consultants. It should be our role to help owners navigate the design and construction market and help them maximize their capital investment in building infrastructure.

What motivated you to become a healthcare architect?
I didn’t specifically set out to be a healthcare architect. I had been focused on projects with complex building enclosure systems and highly technical coordination. After enduring the bumps in life often occurring in and around hospitals, I gravitated to healthcare design and construction. My experience had been with labs and higher education projects with heavy mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure—which are typically larger projects. The healthcare market became the natural progression, because of the scale of work, and the opportunity to lead large teams in very fast-paced project deliveries. I’m also acutely aware that “life” happens in these buildings, and there is an immediate need to improve care and wellness through building design. It’s one of the few markets where we can have a direct, positive impact on the occupants.

What attracted you to HMC?
HMC is recognized nationally as a firm that “walks the walk” when it comes to some of the newest methods of delivery—like integrating lean principles into project delivery, which is something we haven’t seen in the Arizona market. HMC is doing some of the best work in the world and I’m proud to be associated and have the opportunity to help grow the Phoenix practice.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work and how do you want to be remembered?
My goal is to build upon the great success and history of the firm. I want to bring out the best in everybody by providing unique opportunities that allow HMC to passionately serve Arizona. As I tell my kids, whatever you do in this world, you should do it with passion, and it should make the world a better place. I want to be remembered as someone who worked hard to improve the community around him.


  • Matt Lafflam, AIA Principal in Charge