MHTN Professional Spotlight: Patrick McLaughlin

Here at MHTN, we strive to make visions a reality. We want to recognize those who make this possible by highlighting our talented team members.

Celebrating his 20th year with MHTN, Pat McLaughlin brings a musical background and passion for sustainable design to our office. We asked him to tell us a bit about himself.

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

Pat grew up in Salt Lake City, attending local public schools, then on to Westminster College for his undergraduate studies. While there he would major in Music as well as Environmental Studies. As a young man and through his Westminster years Pat had the privilege of studying with the Principal Trumpet of the Utah Symphony, William Sullivan. But being a teenage trumpet player, it almost guarantees a fascination and love of Jazz. And he was no exception.

He was heavily involved in the jazz music program while at Westminster and loved every minute of the experience. As a trumpet player, he played in the Jazz Orchestra that won the Western Regional of the last American Collegiate Jazz Festival Competition in 1977. While there he also had the chance to learn from visiting faculty, such as Moacir Santos, Alan Broadbent and Clare Fisher. That list also included Jazz Trumpet greats Clark Terry, Marvin Stamm and Cat Anderson. It can’t get much better than that.

His interest in Environmental Studies was the result of an interest in the way humans interact with the environment and the results of our interactions. That, and the occasional trip around the city to ‘check out cool buildings’ with friend Chuck Wike, would lead him to the study of Architecture. In 1977, he was happy to be accepted in to Virginia Tech to study for his Master of Architecture. He was grateful to work with professors who were patient and willing to teach him the ins and outs of a field he had never worked in. He looks back fondly at his Master’s Thesis project which he built by hand out of locally sourced hardwood maple. On his travels back and forth from school, and up and down the east coast he made it point to visit architectural points on interest; Falling Water, Columbus, Indiana, Taliesin East, Pei’s East Wing Addition to the National Gallery. Having taken a film scoring class at Westminster, the parallels between that art form and architecture became evident the more Pat studied architecture. Both have context and intent and an action that should/might reinforce the ‘story’ in a functional and beautiful way.

What are you passionate about and how does that intersect with architecture?

He is passionate about music and the environment and feels like those things come together to make a great foundation for an architectural career. His musical studies taught him the benefit of limits. Performance, cost and availability of material, are all limits, but the restraint doesn't actually limit creative output. Ironically while at Virginia Tech he was introduced to the ‘Poets of Music’ by Igor Stravinsky. In that tome Stravinsky talks about limits as in this quote:

“I shall go even farther: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraints diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

He feels strongly that we should be in concert with, not in conflict with the earth; and tries his best to collaborate on architectural projects specifically designed to support the clients goals, and the same time designed in concert with natural systems. He believes that the best method for design is to allow the performance to drive the process and let the form follow. He feels strongly that efficiency and beauty both can and should coincide in architectural design.

What do you most love about your current job?

Pat has been working at MHTN for 20 years now. For many of these years he has been involved with sustainable and envelope design. He has worked on wide variety of building types. Some of his favorites include the south addition to the Salt Palace, the Draper Library, Stoel Rives interiors, and The Emma Eccles Conservatory; the last having added significance as a Westminster graduate, (and music major to boot). It was an honor and privilege to be on the design side of the equation that helped Westminster add state of the art facilities including a Concert Hall, Black Box Theater and Rehearsal Hall.

His passion for architecture has not diminished. In addition to his green design duties at MHTN, he is a member of AIA Utah's Committee on the Environment, as well as the newly formed Building Enclosure Council Chapter which he helped found and for which he is the Chair.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

Pat is still passionate about music, playing and listening every day. Family has meant a great deal to his success from his parents to brother and sister to aunts and uncles. His greatest joy has been watching his two brilliant daughters grow into the kind, smart, caring beautiful women that they are today. And now the joy of grandchildren; three rules, 1) spoil them, 2) be able to out run a three year old, and 3) teach them to scat sing like Ella – then hand off to Mom and Dad. Mission accomplished.