Paul Matt

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.

Paul Matt as Super in the office

Paul Matt as Superintendent

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.

Paul Matt Jonas Salk viewing Salk Center

Paul Matt building the Salk Institute

 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.

founders of MATT Construction Paul Matt, Al Matt, Steve Matt

Paul, Al and Steve Matt, Founders of MATT Construction, Outside Disney Ice

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.

Al Matt, Paul Matt, Steve Matt

Al, Paul and Steve Matt

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:


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 and click on the red DONATE button in the upper right-hand corner.

PSP will deliver a record of all donations to the family.


  1. Dafna Zilafro on

    Paul’s favorite quote was, “there is no limit to what we can achieve if nobody cares who gets the credit.” Paul, you have taught us so much. We will miss you dearly in person — but in spirit — you are here with us every day.

  2. Anthony M. Servera on

    Sincere condolences from the Tony Servera Company. MATT Construction was very influential in our growth in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. MATT Construction allowed us to work on many iconic projects as well, and it enabled us to be a better company too. May he rest in peace and may his family take pride in knowing he was a very,very good man.

  3. Claes Hodnett on

    In the very short time that I was blessed to know Paul, I feel as though I have known him for many years. From the first day that I met him at my interview, he had a way of making me feel very comfortable and at home here at MATT Construction. I will miss his kind soul.

  4. Christopher C. Martin on

    The passing of a true legend. All of us at AC Martin are shattered at the loss of Paul. He will be dearly missed as a fellow builder, golfer and friend.

  5. Richard (Dick) Williams on

    Paul was indeed an innovative exemplar builder, and out-of-the-box-thinker. He was a true leader of his time
    He will be missed but his legacy will be carried forward by those he has closest contact. His legacy will be remembered by many of us who knew and always respected Paul for who he was and those things that he did for so many!
    Blessings to the Matt Family

  6. Joan Witte on

    Dearest MATT Friends,

    This is devastating news. There are some people in our lives who seem destined to last forever, and even though we know down deep that that’s impossible, losing them is always a huge shock. Paul leaves behind an enormous “footprint” of iconic buildings and technological advances. Perhaps more important, though, is the family he created—both in his own illustrious bloodline and in his “MATT Construction” family—because, truly, I certainly felt like I and all of my MATT colleagues were treated like family, when I was there. He passed on to both his high standards of personal integrity combined with surpassing skills. He will certainly be missed, but equally certainly he will live on in the hearts of those who knew him, and in his landmark buildings that enhance Southern California. I hope that the “Legacy Awards” booklet I prepared some years ago to document Paul’s achievements will provide some warm remembrances and comfort at this difficult time.

    It was an honor to know Paul.

    Please accept my condolences, along with those of my husband, Russell.

    Joan Witte

  7. Manuel (Manny) Morden on

    Dear Steve,
    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. He and I are/were the same age and I feel my mortality. We went back a long way and always enjoyed that rare combination of professionalism and pleasure in our work together. My condolences to your family.

  8. Gregory P Luth on

    I was the structural engineer of record for the USC Lucas School of Cinematic Arts and had the pleasure of working with matt construction on that project. It was a unique experience to work with a company in which the founder had instilled a culture of collaborative problem solving. All who aspire to be great builders would do well to study Paul Matt’s career and philosophy.

  9. Melody Kanschat on

    Paul was a knight in shining armor. Without him LA’s cultural infrastructure would still be in its infancy. Warm wishes and heartfelt thanks to the entire Matt family for sharing Paul with Los Angeles.

  10. Steven G. Hall on

    In the 13 years I have been with Pfeiffer, I had the pleasure to work with MATT Construction on several projects. It was always a pleasure to work along side Paul, Al and Steve solving issues that always seem to come up. After a rather difficult meeting where costs and schedules were discussed at length, I remember Paul simply stating: “Now all that’s left is to build this beautiful building.” He will be missed.

    Steven G. Hall, AIA
    Senior Associate
    Pfeiffer Architecture

  11. Wayne W. J. Banks on

    My sincere condolences and prayers go out to Matt’s family in this time of need. Paul was clearly a leader with great passion, vision and above all was an incredibly personal and approachable individual. I will miss him as a friend and colleague greatly. One must live for today because we never know what is around the corner. Rest in Peace Paul you will be remembered forever!

  12. Doug Robertson on

    I’m sure that everyone who knew Paul was devastated by this news, and left wondering “how will we muddle along without his calm guidance, and steady hand?”

    Of course, a part of Paul’s greatness is that he always took the time to mentor those around him, so we won’t really be on our own. He’ll live on in the hearts of all who knew him, with his example as a builder, a leader and a friend.

    To all of our friends in the Matt family, and the Matt Construction family, know that you are in our thoughts during this difficult time, and that you have our deepest condolences.

  13. Sean L. Leonard on

    Our deepest sympathies to Steve, Neil & Al. We at S.L. Leonard & Associates knew we could always rely on Paul. He was a man of high integrity and an inspiration to all of us. God bless the Matt family.

  14. Randall Fulton on

    I am deeply saddened to learn of Paul’s passing. There are precious few men whom have I respected and trusted as much as Paul. He was a man of intense integrity, leadership and experience – and a great mentor to so many of us. We have lost a tremendous friend and industry icon, but have gained so much from knowing him. My heart and thoughts are with the Matt family
    Godspeed Paul.

  15. Jerry Sheeran on

    47 years ago Paul hired me as a laborer at AVCO Tower and thus started an education that was unbelieveabl. I was given an opportunity to advance and learn and when He asked if I wanted to join the Matt’s when they started their company I couldn’t wait to go to work for them. Paul asked me if I was interested in doing a job at Disney Studios in Burbank ( I remember his words ” You’ll know everybody and make an impression for us” Talking to Disney Development I was able to introduce Paul to Jack Bousquet and Jack learned first hand how Paul could impact the people he dealt with. I stayed doing Disney Projects for approximately 4 years. Disney Childcare, Tim Allen’s Production Offices, Cooling Tower, Roy Disney Earthquake Retrofit, Disney Ice what a fun ride.
    The one thing I learned the most from Paul is “don’t be afraid to make a mistake-if you never make a mistake you aren’t doing much” He also told me don’t make the same mistake twice. I used those words with the employees who worked for me always giving credit to Paul saying Paul Matt said….
    Paul, may you rest in peace
    Steve, Neil, Colleen and Cathy you have lost the most amazing man I ever met and who influenced me to be successful and to enjoy life and family. My deepest condolences to you all

  16. Robert L. Wund on

    Sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. I enjoyed knowing him and working with him over the years on various projects in Los Angeles. My condolences to his family.

  17. Brenda Curry on

    My heartfelt condolences! Paul was truly an inspiration and mentor to me. His words of wisdom and gentle spirit made working together a pleasure and always a learning experience. Matt’s impact on the construction industry is monumental. My prayers are extended to the family and Matt Construction.

  18. Jerry Hainline, Founder & CEO, Hainline Consulting on

    Paul was a great Construction Executive. He never labored on who or what caused a challenge on a project only what is the solution. Paul will be missed not only by his close family but by the hundreds of friends he developed thru out the construction industry.

    • Jerry Hainline, Founder & CEO, Hainline Consulting on

      Paul was a great credit to his profession. He will be missed by all he came in contact with.

  19. Mehrdad Farivar, Esq. FAIA on

    My condolences to everyone at Matt Construction and to Paul’s family.

  20. Steve Donahue on

    Steve and the Matt Family,

    We are sorry to hear about the passing of Paul. He was an iconic figure in our industry and challenged us all to be better people, and better contractors, every day. We will miss the incredibly high bar he set and our construction world is a lesser place without him.

    Our deepest sympathies,

    Steve Donahue

  21. Chris rivera on

    Wow,so sad Paul is MATT Construction,he was a very good man always honest always up front and always the first one to show up to work 7am sharp:) that’s what made him so unique determined,deadicated and Proud.Paul will definitely missed but not forgotten.
    God Bless You Paul

  22. Dora Epstein Jones on

    The A+D Museum is saddened to hear of the passing of Paul Matt, a true leader in our industry and a wonderful person. Our condolences go out to the Matt family, and to the larger family of MATT Construction, of which we are honored to be part.

  23. Jim Mynott on

    Sorry to hear of Paul’s passing.

    He helped me on a tough technical issue, on a project he was not even the contractor on. I remember him advising me to seek out the guidance of Jerry King at Hydroquip on how to deal with a dewatering issue. It was the best advice anyone could offer when I felt that no one else understood the challenge we were facing.

    He was as sharp and sincere as they make them. A true gentlemen, who was the eptitome of a mentor, coach and a builder with high integrity. His company is a teastament to those qualities.

  24. Erin McConahey on

    To the MATT Construction family, please accept our condolences for your loss. Paul has left a legacy not only in the number of buildings dotted throughout the city, but more importantly in you and the quality of work you will surely continue to do in his name. Our thoughts are with you all at this time,
    Erin McConahey on behalf of your friends at Arup

  25. Bertram Lewitt on

    Paul was a man of skill, honesty, and integrity. I will miss him. Though our interactions were often separated by long intervals, he was always available, friendly and responsive. My sympathies and condolences are with his family and colleagues.

  26. Jack McMackin on

    One of the classiest men in our industry. I will always remember him for his leadership and integrity. A painful loss to the construction industry.

  27. Bill Esken on

    We at SASHCO offer our sincere condolences to the entire Matt family for the passing of Paul. He had a remarkable career in Southern California, and we know the people at Matt Construction will continue Paul’s legacy. Best wishes to you all.

  28. Susan O'Connell on

    I was privileged to work with Paul, Steve, Marvin and all of the Matt leaders on a large , multi-building project at Westmont College for four years. I honed my skills of collaboration and patience on this project with the Matt crew. The feeling of partnership was evident in every meeting as we lead the client through a complex design and approval process. During construction we worked through everything together and the job completed on a high note, we were all proud of what we accomplished. As the years went by whenever I had a difficult problem with a project or builder I would seek out Paul’s advice – he was a wonderful mentor and helped me work through these project problems with the same passion that he used in his own work. He was a great teacher and modeled honest ethical behavior always. We will all miss Paul and feel lucky that we were able to work with him.

  29. Jeffrey Kalban on

    When I heard the terribly sad news of Paul’s death I walked around our office to look at the many complex projects we worked on together and remember his warmth, encouragement and faith in the process…and his smile with knowing eyes that said “ Jeff, we got this, it’s all going to be resolved.” Always the confident professional and the firm he created personifies him perfectly. My heart felt sympathies to the entire MATT Family.

  30. arun asher on

    Paul was most committed,ethical,helpfull,knowledgable, person i met in construction industry, because of his help,trust and guidence, i could settle 4 generation of my family members in usa.He was very humble, it will be hard to replace person like Paul. My prayers for Paul and his family members

  31. Michelle Sandoval on

    Paul Matt was not just a legendary builder, he was a great leader and an inspirational mentor. He was the type of leader who gave respect to everyone he worked with and who worked for him. It did not matter the level of your position, he treated everyone with the same dignity and appreciation for their craft. He also taught us to see the artistry in all of our jobs, because even the smallest projects had its own unique challenges and there was a beauty in solving them. It was an honor to know and work for Paul and the MATT team. My sincerest condolences to the Matt family.

  32. Jose C Barez on

    Paul Matt was without a dough the most loyal friend an Architect can have,, I could always count on his word all of the time,,not just when it was convenient,,for him it was the right thing to do once he had given his word..That to me was golden .. I loved his courage and forthright attitude with all of our ventures throughout the many years I had the pleasure of knowing him..I was blessed to know him for over thirty years,,he certainly developed an Organization I could always count on to do what was required for each project without a dough ,,,The Construction field and I will surely miss him….

  33. Brian Quinn on

    Paul and I were professional friends for just under fifty years. We were aware that we shared the same passion for architecturally stated concrete.

  34. Jan Curtis on

    Paul Matt was a mentor and a dear friend to me and to so many. He was truly an icon in our industry. His great talent was to coach us all, architects, engineers, developers and Matt team members to be the best we could be! My heartfelt condolences to Al, Steve and Neil. To the Matt Team, the industry will support you, you have been taught well. Rest In Peace Paul, you have left a legacy that will never be forgotten. Much Love, Jan Curtis, formally Matt Construction

  35. Mark Thurman on

    Paul Matt was an industry icon who leaves a legacy of projects and people that is unparalleled. Paul will be sorely missed and our entire community is saddened by his passing. Deepest sympathies to the Matt family and the folks at Matt Construction.

  36. Rich Cherry on

    I was saddened to hear about Paul’s passing. It has really an honor to work with him on various projects over the years. He was an extraordinary man. There are many in the Los Angeles community who will mourn deeply his passing as his was a life of collaboration, passion and excellence. I love the buildings he has built and remember first visiting the amazing work at the Salk Institute and still remember his creative solutions to forming beams over the parking deck for phase 4 of Skirball. May he rest in peace knowing he lives on in the buildings of southern California.

    On behalf of the Academy Museum and myself, I send you, your family and the whole Matt team our our heartfelt condolences

  37. Adrian Hoyle on

    A wise, warm, passionate man is gone, but his reputation and the admiration of so many remains. I will miss our long conversations and his effortless advice during those critical moments. He is an example of the very best in our community. Admiration, thankfulness, sadness. My condolences to his family and the family at Matt Construction.

  38. Ralph Calhoun on

    Steve, sorry too hear about your dad. He was a great man and a dear friend to me and my family. I had no idea he was sick. May God be with you and your family. He will always be in my heart and never forgotten. If you ever need someone to talk with please call me. Always your friend.
    Ralph Calhoun

  39. Marcus Cherlin on

    Paul’s passing is a tremendous loss to us all, extending far beyond his immediate family. He has been such an influential and meaningful part of so many lives, including my own. My family & I owe a lot to this man. He has given me a career to be proud of, opportunities to improve my life both on a professional & personal level, a strong foundation of knowledge, and a second place to call home with the MATT family. I will miss being able to just walk over to his office and ask his opinion about something or talk concrete, which he was always more than happy to do. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have known this man for the past 15 years. He will be greatly missed but remembered forever. My condolences to the entire MATT family.

  40. Saer (Sam) ELFarra on

    Paul Matt was a great leader and mentor. I attribute a lot of my success to him and the Matt culture I grew in. Safety was no. 1 for him. He was easily accessible and had a open door policy. His advise and greatly unannounced project site visits were rewarding and inspirational. I still use what I learned from him and the Matt school till this day. He used home around and tell me, we look at where you live and we assign you to the farthest project.He knew very well the personalities of every employee and knew how to group them together on each project to benefit each of us and get the best service for the client. A year with Matt is like 4 years with any other firm. You learn fast and you grow fast. In my book Matt is still the best company in the construction industry and I contribut that to Paul Matt and his son Steve. I miss him A lot and his impression and influence on my life and experience will never be forgotten.

  41. Perry Maljian on

    I am so very saddened hearing of Paul’s passing. He was truly a “gentleman builder.” I worked with Paul on projects when he was with C.L. Peck, and then under the proud banner of Matt Construction. It was a pleasure and privilege to have known and worked with him over the last four decades. The construction industry has lost one of the all-time great professionals. He will be sorely missed. I am sure you Steve will carry on his legacy. My sincere condolences to the entire Matt family.

  42. Elmer Sarabia on

    I was crushed to hear the news of the Paul’s passing. I first met Paul two decades ago in the old Santa Fe Springs office. He told me that he couldn’t offer me a lot of money but what he could offer me was an opportunity to learn how to build “the right way.” I am blessed that he took a chance on me as he became not only a mentor, but a father figure. Paul, Al, Steve and Neil didn’t treat me like an employee. They treated me like true family and continued to do so even when we moved to San Diego. Paul has made an indelible impact on me and my family’s life. He will be sorely missed.

  43. Rob Pinkerton on

    Paul was one of my first mentors in the construction industry. I will always remember those long, quick strides walking the project with Paul while running to keep pace with him. He could be hard as nails but also very soft and compassionate.

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