Matt Wheelwright is a doctoral student in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. After completing his undergraduate studies in Construction Management, Matt headed to Southern California to build semi-custom homes as well as lead intensive high density infill and light commercial projects. Building homes on some of the largest master planned communities in the United States, he noted many successes and failures in the built environment and aspired to contribute to urban development in more influential ways. Particularly concerned for the inadequate ways that cities and developers considered the social and psychological needs of its population, Matt chose to return to school first for a Master in Business Administration degree and now a PhD. His hands-on experience and passion for better places enhance his broad set of talents and understanding and add breadth to his academic goals with the hopes of bringing better construction and planning practices to Utah communities and the built environment.
His dissertation focuses on successful projects in the built environment. He is answering the question: How do built environment professionals understand and value place and placemaking and how do these place priorities and implementation affect place outcomes. To answer this inquiry, his surveys and case studies (interviews and site/user observations) focus on 3 growing Western U.S. cities (Salt Lake City, UT; Portland, OR; Los Angeles, CA; 6 public realm, 6 private realm projects). The results will provide insight for practitioners and academics with interests in improving their urban places.