Paul Matt, Chairman of MATT Construction, Dies at 85
From the Salk Institute, Crystal Cathedral and The Broad to the just-opened Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Beverly Hills, Matt’s imprint leaves a legacy
Builder Paul Matt, Chairman of MATT Construction, died peacefully on Friday afternoon, surrounded by his family. He was 85. Under his guidance, MATT Construction became known for undertaking signature projects that have become well-recognized landmarks, including the Skirball Cultural Center, The Broad, the Petersen Automotive Museum, Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, the LACMA Resnick Pavilion, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM), the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Beverly Hills and the restorations of both Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the Hollywood Bowl.
“My father loved his work and the people he collaborated with. During his recent battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he continued to apply his amazing passion for building. All of us at MATT take great solace that he lived to see his dream fully realized . . . building a company of great builders and great people. We will proudly carry on his legacy,” said Steve Matt, CEO of MATT Construction.
Working as a welder on the The Dalles Dam after serving in the U.S. Air Force, Paul Matt became fascinated with construction. He started his professional career in construction as a surveyor for the George A. Fuller Company. In 1962, he was promoted to job superintendent for the Salk Institute in San Diego designed by the legendary architect Louis Kahn. No sooner had Matt mobilized than the client stopped the project and had Mr. Kahn completely redesign it for budgetary reasons. This challenge created the perfect environment for Matt to develop his skill as a collaborative builder supporting Mr. Kahn’s great design. Throughout the project, Matt developed innovative approaches in formwork and concrete, and collaborative relationships with the architect and consultants that provided the basis for his philosophy as a builder for the rest his career.
Prior to starting MATT Construction, Matt was a senior executive at C.L. Peck and a member of the company’s board of directors. In 1991, he co-founded MATT Construction with his son Steve, and his brother Al. Over the next 26 years, the company grew from a start-up to a significant builder across California, earning over $500 million in annual revenue and employing 250 people.
In awarding Matt their 2015 Southern California Legacy Award, Engineering News-Record (ENR), the definitive publication for the engineering and construction industry, wrote, “Paul Matt’s lifelong ambition to tackle challenging projects head on with a collaborative spirit has led to a career in construction that spans 65 years and encompasses more than 450 buildings, many of which are among Southern California’s most iconic structures.”
“Twenty years ago, when I began working at MATT, I was trying to understand what my role would be with the company and Paul told me, ‘You can contribute to growing the company in any way you like as long as you’re not worried about who gets the credit.’ Paul always showed me how powerful it is to be a selfless team player,” said Marvin Wheat, President of MATT Construction.
Matt, born June 1, 1932 in Rome, New York, earned a structural engineering degree from Oregon Institute of Technology. He attended college on the G.I. Bill.
Matt is survived by his second wife, Cathy. He was preceded in death by his first wife Evelyn, and his brothers Leo, Thomas and Theodore. He is survived by three children with his first wife: Steven, Colleen and Neil, as well as eleven grandchildren and his brothers Francis, Alan, Karl, Vincent and his sister Rose Marie. Matt had been a Newport Beach, CA resident for over 45 years.
Funeral services will be private, followed by a public celebration of his life later in July. In lieu of flowers, friends are encouraged to either post thoughts, pictures, and remembrances below, or send meaningful memories of Paul via email to: PaulMattRemembered@mattconstruction.com.
The family would be honored if those wishing to donate in memory of Paul would do so in support of those with PSP, the neurodegenerative disease that Paul’s widow Cathy, suffers from.
The Matts appreciate your love and support.
For more information and to make a donation, go to www.curepsp.org and click on the red DONATE button in the upper right-hand corner.
PSP will deliver a record of all donations to the family.