Prospect Studio focuses on the big picture in their architectural work

02 Jun 2022

Winter/Spring 21-22

Written By: Molly Absolon | Images: Courtesy Zeke Nelson and Prospect Studio

When the three principals of Prospect Studio started tossing around names for their new architectural firm, they wanted something different. They were searching for a word that captured their vision.

“The word ‘prospect’ kept coming up,” Matt Thackray, one of the principals, says. “It’s an optimistic view of the future, an expansive view. As a noun, it’s a viewpoint or a path forward. These concepts represent what we are trying to achieve.” On the surface, Prospect Studio is a classic architectural firm. It’s housed in a modern space in the Aspens with white walls, an open floor plan, big windows, high-tech lighting, and walls covered with beautiful photographs. But when you start talking to Matt, and his partners, John Carney and Danny Wicke, you discover they are motivated by more than their mutual love of design. The trio wants to create a collaborative workplace that empowers its employees to work hard and excel. They want to tap into the expertise and knowledge of the people they partner with — the craftsmen, artists, audio-visual consultants, and electricians — to make their projects function on all levels. They want to be open to learning from their successes as well as their failures, and they want their buildings to be functional as well as beautiful. Finally, they look for inspiration in not only the landscape, but the community they are part of. “Design is important,” Matt says. “We are passionate about creating beautiful buildings, but we also want to focus on the relationships behind the work. We are continually inspired by the collaborative nature of design — it’s a profession in which one never stops learning.” The idea for Prospect Studio came about over several casual dinner conversations — originally between John and Danny, and later with Matt as well — about where they wanted to go in their careers as architects. John had been working for more than 40 years as an architect; he had started multiple successful firms and designed 250-plus critically acclaimed projects. After hitting 70, he found himself in a reflective place in his career, trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. “My former firm had grown in size. We had 45 people in two offices, and it was a lot of work to keep that machine going,” John says. “I felt like I wasn’t really getting to focus on the projects.” He explains that “I wanted to be part of a more intimate, smaller venture for the next chapter of my career. Danny, Matt, and I have good chemistry and a range of talents that complement each other. Prospect is really a confluence of good things coming together.” Danny and Matt are both half John’s age but are far enough along in their careers to have ideas of how they want to do things differently. They were looking forward to their new venture when the pandemic hit. “At first we thought, what a terrible time to start a business,” Danny says. “But then the phone started ringing, and it hasn’t stopped.” Ultimately, the team hopes to focus on mission-based work. Collectively, they feel a responsibility to give back to the community by creating workforce housing and helping nonprofit entities that benefit the community. Their goal is to serve in this capacity for years to come. “We want to work on projects that make a difference,” Danny says. “Regardless of the project type, those that have an intrinsic value, share an understanding of who a project is for — listening to the client and looking at things from their perspective while challenging the status quo. The design process is a collaborative conversation that takes place over years. Architecture is a marathon, not a sprint.” Danny says they also are committed to working close to home. “The place you live is your laboratory,” he says. “You know the most about it through the osmosis of living here, wherever here may be for you. For us it’s the Tetons. We want to apply the knowledge we gather everyday of this place to our work.” Matt notes that “Everyone is inspired by the landscape here. We are too, but we also want people to understand what makes a space feel good. We strive for projects that show a deference to this beautiful landscape through proportion and quality of light, and with honest, hardworking materials that are elegantly assembled by the many craftspeople on which our work relies.”
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