All I want for Christmas, Lauren Myatt told her parents, is a computer-aided design software package.
That request came years ago, before Myatt was an Architect with Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects in Baltimore, back when others her age were more apt to ask for toys or clothes than for the virtual means to design a building. Her parents seemed puzzled, she recalled.
But even at that young age, the seeds had been sown.
“I think it’s always been there,” she said. “I was always intrigued by buildings and liked to visit different places to study the Architecture.”
Myatt first visited Baltimore while attending Virginia Tech. The native of Roanoke, Virginia, liked the pace and feel of the city, connecting right away with the revitalization effort that’s grown in recent years and the injection of youthful energy that continues to drive change across the area.
With graduation on the horizon in 2008, she began looking for jobs.
Murphy & Dittenhafer quickly moved to the top of her list, once she learned about the range of projects work there would offer.
“It seemed like a really broad spectrum, with something different day to day,” she recalled. “It just seemed like the right fit for me.”
So eight years ago she packed her bags, ready to bring her design ideas to Charm City.
In just under a decade, Myatt has helped build a better Baltimore.
Her favorite projects – the ones she speaks about with passion and excitement – are those that help the city’s less fortunate. Shelters; soup kitchens; churches: each such design she’s seen executed has improved not only buildings but people’s lives, as well.
The recent expansion of the Sarah’s Hope family shelter in Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood means that 100 more homeless families can get the vital resources they need this year to try to make a better life. Similarly, the renovations completed on the building in Fells Point that houses St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore’s Beans and Bread program allows volunteers to serve 300 meals to those in need today.
And there have been many more community conscious efforts at M&D involving Myatt, each satisfying in its own way.
“This work is just so rewarding,” she said. “I can’t imagine anything better.”
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M&D Architects President Frank Dittenhafer II, FAIA, LEED AP, points to the numerous awards Myatt’s projects have received during her tenure – including recognition for her work on First & Franklin Presbyterian Church in Baltimore; the Washington County Commission on Aging’s new home in Hagerstown; and Old St. Paul’s Church in downtown Baltimore – as a testament to her talents.
But, more than that, she brings the sort of broad understanding that can't be taught.
“Lauren Myatt is one of those rare individuals who sees both the big picture and the critical small details of architectural commissions with equal clarity,” he said. “She possesses great communication and excellent project management skills, thus positioning her as one of Murphy & Dittenhafer’s most valuable client representatives.”
“But most importantly,” he continued, “Lauren is a just a wonderful person – a great friend – and someone everybody enjoys working with.”
Designs on history
Next stop: Lexington Market.
Myatt is currently part of the Murphy & Dittenhafer team working on the high-profile redesign of Baltimore’s iconic downtown market, a project she’s approaching with typical energy and enthusiasm.
Plans call for a new structure to be built next to the current market location, with large windows and more natural lighting but with an eye still toward preserving the market’s energy and authentic feel. The $35 million project will take several years to complete.
For Myatt, though, striking a balance between innovative design and preservation of classic Baltimore on a big project – all while making the community a little bit better place to live – is a challenge she always welcomes.
“It’s just an exciting time here,” she said, “and I’m proud to be a part of the work going on.”