Q+A with Matt Van Wienen, Senior Project Architect (Grand Rapids)
How do you describe your job to people outside of the industry?
I generally tell them that I am there to help facilitate refining and bringing the clients’ ideas from their imagination into the physical world. I am also there to help them determine what they really need versus what they think they need.
Why did you decide to become an architect?
I became interested in architecture when I was in middle school, and we had a project of designing a house and building a model. From there I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be the one building the structures or designing them. I took many different drafting classes, and one of my teachers helped find me a job with a local architect. I worked with him for a few years, and he helped me see that I had a talent for designing buildings and putting them together. That’s when I decided I wanted to become an architect.
How would you describe life at Ghafari?
I joined Ghafari when the pandemic started and didn’t meet my coworkers in person for almost a year. There were a few times where I wondered if I had a desk or space in an office at all. But initially working from home gave me the opportunity to work with people from the Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Dearborn offices. I believe it helped me feel more part of a group of people that didn’t have physical borders of space and geography. It also made it feel like a more personal company than a large corporate office.
The diversity of people and disciplines that are housed here are also a great plus. There is always someone to ask questions and help out.
What is the most exciting thing that has happened during your time here?
Working from home has made me see the value of having a split schedule of home and office life. A good balance makes it feel like you are not working as hard or as much as you really are.
What is a key idea or lesson you have learned while working at Ghafari?
Giving everyone on the team a voice is important; you never know when a solution will be provided or who it will come from.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to work on my classic car. I have a 1976 Mustang II Cobra that I someday will get finished. I also like to do home projects and remodel / improve various items around the house and yard. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends, trying new restaurants and gathering with people at homes and for fun outings.