Alumni Spotlight: Matthew Reeves

interviewed by Marissa Carpenter, Director of Marketing and Enrollment

Marissa: What’s your occupation?

Matt: I practice architecture, and am unofficially known as a “designer.” I am studying for my final California licensure exam this year.


What grade levels did you attend at CVC, and when did you graduate from Central Valley Christian?

I attended CVC from 7th grade, and graduated in 2007.


What’s your first memory of CVC?
In 2001, teen guys wore skater shoes, cargo shorts, and gelled their hair into spikes. Straight out of homeschool, that was a bit of a shock. Skater shoes were a massive puffy pillow-shaped ordeal. As I loved to draw a lot, I would trace out their form, probably invent a bit, just to understand the appeal. Then I wore some. So cool.


What’s your favorite memory of CVC?

Not to incite misconduct, but I love secret passageways. A fond memory of my sophomore year was a time a few friends and I happened upon a secret room! I will not release where, nor with whom, because it is a secret. It was a fun little spot through a ceiling opening, quite stuffy and full of technical equipment. We realized it led downstairs to yet another room, usually off limits, some kind of storage. Nothing special. The joy was in discovering! As I look back with my education and experience, it’s cool to realize how important these “back-of-house” rooms are for overall buildings. Secret rooms should also spark wonder, no matter how banal!

Post-graduation, where did you go? What did you study? Why?

I studied art studio at UC Santa Barbara in 2007, with a heavy helping of history and sciences. Drawing, painting, and some serious research essay-writing highlighted life in an ocean-side paradise. There was one CVC alumnus a year ahead and a year behind me on campus too! Always nice to have a familiar face. 

Drawing is the most natural thing I know, and it eventually took over my experience away at college. Any idea that isn’t just words has to be born into the world somehow, and drawing it out is the most approachable. I kept pushing for architecture, but UC Santa Barbara did not offer this study, so I was patient and saved it for graduate school later. After graduating UCSB, I had a 2-year detour at College of the Sequoias’ architecture program, which is amazing! It sky-rocketed me up to speed, and I finished graduate school at University of Utah in 2014, over in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Take our readers through a normal day of work for you. What’s the most difficult thing about your job? The easiest thing?

Architecture, as well as the whole building industry, is project-based, and each project might be at a different point of completion. Walking into work on a typical day, I keep in mind where each project timeline is, and my managers will set the course. There are two high rises (skyscrapers) and two beautiful hilltop homes about to finish. There is a home built over a river (for real), halfway through construction. There are two family homes in the early phases of being built, and several others. Along with these are numerous competitions, where our firm competes to design a project.

This profession is indeed a desk job, with “site visits” to see how construction is going. In the office, I use several types of software: AutoCAD, Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop and InDesign, as well as Bluebeam. The most important thing I use, though, is my drawing pad, which is somehow the easiest thing. The challenge is to take the scribbled-out ideas-sometimes from me, though usually from my managers and the clients-and place them in the software. These applications rapidly communicate ideas in a commonly used format, but they cannot design on their own. Once printed out from these software types, builders can quickly look at a drawing and make something real. These drawings sometimes require extra information later, or might have to change halfway through construction, by necessity or by client request. The goal is to emerge through the complications, and, as my old professor said, to never “lose your sketch” in the process.


Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career thus far.

As a start, God blessed me with the chance to pursue a passion of mine. My earliest accomplishments were exploring art and taking COS architecture classes. Graduate school had me design and build a home for a deserving family in Utah (University of Utah School of Architecture’s DesignBuildBLUFF program, for you makers out there!). 

I designed a really cool barn for a retired farmer in Utah. This was right of school for me, at my first job where I worked under an excellent architect. It was designed in a style known as “arts and crafts.”

I am currently helping design a three-story-high window wall for a high-end family house. This entire wall is a sculptural, 3 dimensional pattern of triangular glass panes, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay sunrise.

A continuing professional goal of mine is to gain experience in both “traditional” and “modern” styles, as well as in small scale and large scale buildings. So far, I did get to work for a classically trained architect for small scale housing. I then experienced large-scale modern design for an airport railway station in San Francisco. I currently practice a modern style in both large and small scale.


What are the next steps for you—where would you like to go from here?

I would eventually enjoy exploring the world of historic preservation and “adaptive reuse.” It is wonderful when a community appreciates a previous generation’s building style so much, they want to work around it. I respect a skillful design that can contrast an old existing building with contemporary details. I am also excited to see which brand new buildings today communities will want to preserve. It won’t be all of them, but a few will be winners!


What do you do when you’re not working? What are your hobbies?

There are a lot of hiking trails up in the San Francisco Bay area which my wife Maria and I explore. We both plan ahead for annual trips across the country to visit family. When I get the chance, I enjoy practicing an art style know as pyrography, which is wood burning imagery on thin panels of wood. Wood-burned bookmarks are great gifts! Rock climbing and running are other hobbies on my list as well.


What might someone be surprised to know about you? 

I love donuts. They punctuate my week. Every Saturday is “Donut Day” at my house, since it cannot be every day. I certainly miss Scotty’s over in Visalia, but have indeed found plenty up here in the Bay Area. One in particular, Johnny Donuts, was catered at my wedding!


How do you think Christian education helps take on today’s challenges through academia and the holistic process of involving Christ in everything we do?

I was raised in a Christian home and lived within Christian communities all the while growing up. I then went to a secular college, and realized that my religious background was not the norm. With that came a big question: am I going to keep my faith in Christ, if no one encourages me? Since then, every step of my life is a process of venturing out into a world that believes different from me, but then always returning in fellowship with believers. Christian education has made it clear to me that everyone I encounter in life deserves the love Christ showed me.


How would you change Christian education? Would you change anything about your specific CVC experience? If so, what?

Christian education has an excellent opportunity to draw back on the early format of western universities: all fields of study were linked by theology. It was the summit of law, science, art, philosophy, medicine, and others. Today this is no longer the case in the secular academic fields. I would have loved to hear this, or to have paid attention a bit more when a CVC teacher did say this.

On a minor note, I would definitely have spent more time in shop class. It’s hard to make cool things out of metal and wood while living in a densely crowded city.


What kinds of opportunities did you take hold of while at CVC? Sports? Extracurriculars? Clubs? Honors classes?

Sports: cross country, swimming (any rock climbing clubs at CVC yet?)
Classes: advanced art, honors English, honors algebra, IMPACT
Extracurriculars: student council, CVC high school newspaper, Mr. CVC 2007 victor
Outside CVC: Mt. Whitney film editing course, COS drawing courses in the summer, Visalia Times-Delta teen journalist


What would you tell someone who is thinking of attending Central Valley Christian?

CVC offers Christian support, fellowship, and guidance, while students move toward their next step. College prep is a very important aspect of studies, and your beliefs can be a part of it. Your school experience, and your next adventure, will be anchored in Christ.

Let’s Build on That!

Architecture vocabulary and lingo

Adaptive Reuse: A subset of historic preservation, where an existing building is maintained by a community and transformed to serve a new purpose. It usually has additional portions of buildings added, which is its great design challenge to ensure the original integrity is apparent.

BArch/March: Degrees, Bachelor’s of Architecture (4-5 year program), Master’s of Architecture (1-3 year program)

BIM: (building information modelling): 3-dimensional shapes created with a computer that have important info loaded. For example, a 3D door can be modelled, located in the building model, documented as a specific door type. This “door” can be placed in dozens of locations, and they will all update at the same time, and keep track of the total count. (Matt: “I promise this is cool.”)

CADD: (computer aided drafting and design): 2-dimensional lines created with a computer

Drafting: the act of drawing a building on paper to a true scale.

Elevation: a side view of a building’s walls (“faces” or “façades”), inside and outside. This shows how a building will look, its materials, and how the doors and windows will align to other portions of the building.

Maker: cross-discipline term for a person who dreams up things and brings them into the world. New technologies and old-world craft are used simultaneously by these folks. They look rough, are quite smart, and if they can’t do something on their own, they want to know how anyway.

Perspective: A drawing of a building shown in 3 dimensions, usually from an angle that a person will see it.

Scale: drawing a building on paper perfectly proportional to its real shape. Though smaller on paper, a ruler can be used to represent the true size. For example, many “plans” of houses are drawn on paper where a ¼” equals one foot (1’-0”). The math here is proportional fractions with one unknown variable. No calculators!

Plan: a building’s horizontal layout, where all the rooms and spaces, doors, windows and stairs, can be shown.

Schedule: A list of building components, such as: Door and Window Schedule, Lighting Fixture Schedule, Hardware Schedule, Finish Material Schedule.

Section: a building’s vertical cut-through, showing how its components and assemblies are put together. This will show how roofs sit on walls, and how walls sit on floors.

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