Matt Kelly has been fascinated with architecture since the age of seven when he sketched out plans for an addition to his family’s house. Kelly studied architecture in college, and started his first real job working for a small architectural firm in Canton, Ohio, learning from an architect with 60-plus years in the business. Since joining Earles Architects and Associates, Kelly has been immersed in the commercial real estate world, as their clients own, manage, or lease space in many of the leading buildings in downtown Chicago.
“There is a tremendous sense of tangibility to this profession and it’s very rewarding to see the lasting results and the impact we make on each client’s space,” said Kelly, associate principal at Earles Architects & Associates in Chicago. “The changes we make are very real and it’s not always easy to see those kinds of results in other professions.”
According to Kelly, client service has always been EAA’s driving force and it is what sets the firm apart from the rest. “We are always accessible and have a great team that works hard every day to make our clients happy,” he said. “We also have a huge knowledge base that stems from our founder, Dan Earles, and his depth of experience working in many of Chicago’s premier downtown office buildings.”
“We are busier than ever and have worked on a lot of unique projects in the past year,” Kelly added. “From Sterling Bay’s corporate office to Ifbyphone’s two-floor office design, we’ve had a lot of fun creating innovative spaces for our clients. We have done a lot of landlord build-out projects, including creating spec suites to help them market their buildings. We’ve also worked for many corporate users and fast moving tech companies, so the variety is nice. In addition, we recently launched two initiatives. SEAATS is an office furniture division and DEAATAILS is a unique organizational service that helps businesses optimize their space and improve work flow.”
Kelly noted that EAA also has a few building owners and developers who have approached the company about 100,000+ square feet projects.
“Those are nice size projects that will allow us to really help reshape a building and an office culture. Another project in the pipeline includes a unique rooftop build-out for shared conference and lounge space. It’s great to see the diversity and be able to show some creativity in bringing new projects to life.”
Overall Kelly said he is looking forward to seeing the real estate industry continue to evolve over the next few years.
“We’ve seen such positive movement in activity and some unique trends in terms of what tenants want in their spaces. The use of technology to design and market creative spaces is continuously expanding so it will be fun to see where that leads us in the near future.”
When Kelly isn’t working, he likes to keep busy. “I’m an avid runner and cyclist, but lately most of my time has been spent renovating our 1922 Craftsman bungalow. My wife and I are also training for our second Ironman competition in the fall.”
With training for his second Ironman competition, it isn’t surprising to find out what’s on Kelly’s Bucket list. “I want to run a marathon on all seven continents and in all 50 states. Only have about 30 more to go! Visiting all of the national parks in the U.S. is another item that will get checked off some day.”
If Kelly wasn’t in architecture, he’d be driving a Jeep in Sedona! “That’s my retirement job. My wife and I went there last year and loved it.”
His greatest accomplishment outside of architecture? “Besides marrying my wonderful wife? Running the Boston marathon.”
The greatest advice he’s ever received is from EAA company founder Dan Earles. “He often tells me to treat every day as a new learning experience. Mishaps can happens, but use them as an opportunity to learn. The greatest advice I’ve ever given is push for what you believe in, whether it’s a new project, a promotion, or a new corporate direction. Nothing will change if you don’t speak up.”