Employee Spotlight: Matthew Parker, Landscape Designer April 25th, 2018

My name is Matthew Parker and I am a Landscape Designer happily working for Wallace Group for over three years now. I grew up in southern California in the quaint little town of El Segundo as the middle child of three sons to my parents: an aerospace engineer and florist.  Naturally, landscape architecture seems to fit somewhere in the middle there, so it must be genetic!

During high school I never passed up opportunities that came my way which lead to several odd jobs as a city locker room attendant, selling candles at Pier 1 Imports, and building skate boards at a surf shop. After high school I lived all over LA county working for various mortgage brokers and lenders drawing loan documents and conducting compliance review during the wild west period of mortgage banking prior to the big crash. It was during this crazy time that I took interest in a new coworker named Brittany who shared my affinity for the outdoors and tolerated my affinity for hockey and rock music. Though she was hopelessly out of my league I somehow convinced her I was the one, and not long after I found myself asking her to be my wife. Planning our wedding got me thinking more and more about the future and I felt it was time to choose a more fulfilling career. I longed for something that better suited my artistic skills, love for the outdoors and had a deeper role in contributing to the welfare of the community and environment. Or in other words, I wanted to utilize my talents doing something I love that would enrich the world around me. That is when I stumbled upon this amazing profession called Landscape Architecture which seemed to match what I longed for in a job. So I contacted a local firm in Pasadena and asked them if I could visit to learn more about the profession. They graciously hosted me for two hours introducing me to the variety of things a landscape architect does, and I knew from that moment on that this was the profession for me. So right after I got married I spent one full year cramming in a full-time job simultaneously with an overloaded full time school schedule to reach the bare minimum amount of units needed to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. If that sounds like I was never home, it is because I really was never home. Which is a great way to start off a marriage. Fortunately, I was blessed to have been accepted to Cal Poly’s nationally ranked Landscape Architecture program on the first go.

While at Cal Poly I interned with Caltrans where I worked on a wide variety of transportation projects ranging from wetland restoration to interpretive sign displays at multiple vista viewpoints stretching from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz. What I valued most about my experience at Cal Poly and Caltrans was the exposure to multiple disciplines working together for a common goal. For three years I got to work with students and professionals in architecture, architectural engineering, construction management, environmental planning, soil science, and transportation engineering. This experience gave me a deep appreciation for an interdisciplinary environment and became something I looked for in prospective employers approaching graduation time.

After college I was very fortunate to be chosen to work here at Wallace Group and, as a bonus, continue living on the beautiful central coast! Wallace Group grabbed my attention not only for its interdisciplinary atmosphere, but for the active role it had in being an asset to the local community, not just through business, but through volunteer service as well. Working at Wallace Group as a landscape designer, I do a little bit of everything from site analysis and conceptual design all the way to construction documents using my skills in computer assisted drafting, 3D modeling, digital photo simulation rendering and good ol’ fashion pen and trace paper sketching. My interests are in parks and recreation design, low impact design and storm water management, land reclamation and restoration, and interpretative signage. But to be honest, there isn’t any sector of the landscape architecture profession I am not fond of in some way. Back in college I was worried that I may get locked into a job doing the same type of work that would stagnate my passion for the profession. Luckily for me, Wallace Group has exposed me to a plethora of projects that hit so many different markets and present a variety of design challenges. Collaborating with so many different professions to achieve cohesive project goals on such a wide variety of projects has only served to foster my professional growth and makes coming into work every day exciting.

I also serve as a member of the Wallace Group fun committee, helping plan many of the fun events we do together as an office, like BBQ cook offs, movie nights, camping trips, zip lining and kayaking. I love the numerous volunteer and charity events Wallace Group sponsors and participates in. But most of all, I enjoy being surrounded by such a great collection of fun coworkers of great integrity who are a pleasure to work with.

Currently I live in beautiful Morro Bay and now have two awesome little kids, Isaac and Brooklyn, who make sure I stay in a perpetual state of exhaustion, but otherwise bring me endless joy. My beautiful wife Brittany, who supported me through Cal Poly, has been the rock in my life keeping me grounded, inspired and happy. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her support. Together my small family and I are always out and about taking advantage of everything the Central Coast has to offer. Hiking, camping, kayaking going to the drive-in and going to the beach as much as possible. One day, I hope to add surfing to that list. But overall, we couldn’t be happier. I still stay connected to my past colleagues and professors from Caltrans and Cal Poly and participate in review galleries of student work. I am looking to expand my contributions to the community and my profession in the years to come in order to give back to the people that have given me and my family such a fulfilling life here on the central coast.

  1. Favorite movie. The Mummy (not the Tom Cruise one)
  2. Favorite food. Sushi, can’t get enough of that mercury.
  3. Describe your dream vacation. My wife and I traveling to Iceland to hike a volcano, see a Narwhal, explore an ice cave and steal some of their black sand to bring home as a memento. Which is probably prohibited, but I can’t read their signs anyways…
  4. What’s your favorite childhood memory? Skipping school to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain with my cousin on such a slow day there were no lines for any of the rides. Before you judge, our parents took us. Judge them.
  5. What’s your secret ability? I’m told I am a great cook. But I only cook for my family and I can’t trust them to give me the hard-honest truth. So the jury is still out…
  6. What is the furthest away from SLO have you been? Nosara, Costa Rica. But it didn’t feel even remotely as far from home as the one time I drove through Hinkley, CA.