A public memorial gathering is being planned for builder Paul Matt, whose Santa Fe Springs-based construction firm has had a hand in construction or restoration projects at such Southern California cultural landmarks as the Skirball Cultural Center, The Broad, the Petersen Automotive Museum, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Huntington Library and the Hollywood Bowl.
Matt, who lived in Newport Beach for more than 45 years, died on Friday afternoon, surrounded by his family. He was 85.
His company’s other recent projects include the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Beverly Hills.
When the Engineering News-Record honored him with its 2015 Southern California Legacy Award, the engineering and construction industry publication said 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.”
Matt set his sights on a career in construction while working as a welder on the Dalles Dam after serving in the U.S. Air Force. He started out as a surveyor for the George A. Fuller Co. and, in 1962, was promoted to job superintendent for the Salk Institute in San Diego, designed by the legendary architect Louis Kahn.
Working on the Salk project — which was stopped by the client, then completely redesigned for budgetary reasons — Matt “developed innovative approaches in formwork, concrete and collaborative relationships with the architect and consultants that provided the basis for his philosophy as a builder the rest his career,” according to his family.
Matt was a senior executive at C.L. Peck and a member of the company’s board of directors before co-founding MATT Construction in 1991 with his son Steve and his brother Al, which has grown into a company that generates more than $500 million in annual revenue and has 250 employees.
“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,” said Steve Matt, the company’s CEO. “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.”
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.
He is survived by his second wife, Cathy. He was preceded in death by his first wife Evelyn, mother of his children Steven, Colleen and Neil. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren, four brothers and a sister.
Funeral services will be private, followed by a public celebration of his life later in July. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking friends “to send meaningful memories” of Matt via email to: PaulMattRemembered@mattconstruction.com.
—City News Service