Why did you choose ISoA to study architecture?
As a third generation Illini, there was no debate that Illinois was the place for me. As I grew up and found my passion for architecture, it really was the perfect fit! I was fortunate enough to participate in Discover Architecture, a two week summer intensive before my freshman year and the friends I made during the program eased my transition into college.
Are you glad that you did?
I have loved my time here in ISoA! I have learned from incredible professors and worked on projects within the local community, which have allowed me to better understand my projects I love being able to go to the site, take real measurements and visualize my concepts in reality.
"I have loved my time here in ISoA!" - Matthew Giddens
Is there a particular area/topic of architecture that you’re interested in?
I love commercial architecture, specifically entertainment and restaurants; any opportunity to let the user lose themselves in detail and feeling. I really appreciate the architecture in places like the Rainforest Cafe because of the element of full-immersion.
What did you do this past summer?
Over the last 8 months, I worked as an Architecture Intern under Walt Disney Imagineering! I was working on a ski-lift that would take users from parks to resorts around Disney property. It was an amazing experience working with a great team and I think it will be cool to tell my grandkids that I worked on something that will be there for a really long time.
Do you feel like ISoA is preparing you for a career in architecture?
Many of the things I’ve learning in the classroom have direct application to the real world. It was fascinating to see how the different disciplines worked together to create the product we will eventually see. Understanding the ‘lingo’ of each discipline and how they all worked together is just as important as the design itself. Communication tools that I have learned here at ISoA has helped me immensely interact in the real world.
"Communication tools that I have learned here at ISoA has helped me immensely interact in the real world" - Matthew Giddens
If you could change one thing about your architecture education, what would it be?
I wish there was more internship/co-op opportunities built into our curriculum to get more hands on learning experience. I was able to gain so much from working in the real world, because I was able to see the relevance of my coursework in real world applications.
What part of the country/world would you like to work once you graduate?
I don’t have a preference to where I work. I think the fun of Architecture is that it’s all around you! No matter where the adventure takes me, I will be happy to study, practice, and learn.
"University of Illinois and the School of Architecture have provided me with amazing opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime" - Matthew Giddens
What one piece of advice would you give to current freshman architecture student? What do you wish you knew that you know now?
My one piece of advice is to get active in all forms of architecture. Architecture can range from furniture making to construction management. With so many applications, it is best to expose yourself to as many variations as possible. I have gotten involved in many ways, such as my previous internships and events like Habitat for Humanity. Through these experiences, you can learn the ‘lingo’ of each discipline!
What one thing would you recommend that would improve the life of being a student in the school of architecture?
Time management! It is important to start projects early because it is easier to change something once you’ve started. Get information onto the paper, and do not be afraid to ask others for their input. Always think about the user and remember that they are the ones using it everyday, so design for them.
"One of my favorite professors was Jeffery Poss. Professor Poss was an amazing mentor who challenged my every design and made me think and internalize about the WHY not just the WHAT" - Matthew Giddens
Did you have a favorite professor from a previous semester? Who was it and why?
One of my favorite professors was Jeffery Poss. Professor Poss was an amazing mentor who challenged my every design and made me think and internalize about the WHY not just the WHAT. It made me become detail-oriented and focus on what matters versus what looks good. I thank him for challenging me and making me a better student and designer.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
The University of Illinois and the School of Architecture have provided me with amazing opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime. If you were to ask me four years ago what my future holds, I would have never guessed this was going to be my adventure! I am thankful to the faculty and staff here at UIUC and ISoA for giving me the tools to learn and cannot wait to see what my future holds!