Alumnus Fred Ortiz remembers getting called into the locker room and hearing his coach announce that UTA would no longer fund the football program in 1985.
When left with the choice between attending another university to pursue football or staying at UTA to complete his architecture degree, he chose UTA.
Now, about 30 years later, Ortiz is a principal architect of the global design firm HKS and senior designer on the new Texas Rangers ballpark, Globe Life Field. Ortiz joined the project in 2016 and soon his designs will come to life with the ballpark opening in March 2020.
“My dream of being a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys went out the window,” Ortiz said, remembering the day he chose UTA over football.
Although Ortiz chose to let go of one dream, he said he committed himself to pursuing the other.
“When asked what I wanted to be when I got older in elementary school, I said, ‘I want to be one of those guys that draws buildings’,” Ortiz said, “not knowing what an architect was.”
Ortiz said a large architecture firm was always something he shied away from.
“I thought that I would be brought in doing the same thing, or get lost in the shuffle,” he said.
In 2007, however, Ortiz accepted the position at HKS.
Ortiz said he now feels as if he’s working at a much larger scale and on a larger platform than he ever was.
“It’s causing me to really dig deep and actually work hard at driving projects,” he said.
Chris Fultz, Fultz and Singh Architects owner and alumnus, said he met Ortiz in their beginning design class and later went on to work with him in Richmond, Virginia.
“We did really well, won a lot of awards and became partners in the practice,” Fults said. “We designed some of the biggest award-winning projects that the practice put out.”
After working alongside Fultz for about a decade, Ortiz made the decision to relocate back to Texas where Brian McFarlane, alumnus and architect and principal shareholder at HKS, would convince him to work for a larger firm despite Ortiz’s fear.
“If you ever decide to leave, you need an interview with HKS,” McFarlane said he remembers telling Ortiz. “You need to consider our firm.”
As well as being an architecture designer, Ortiz is also a husband and a father of four children.
He said that finding a balance between work and family was difficult, but he knew that with hard work it was possible.
That mindset of keeping a drive and pushing through difficult times, Ortiz said, is something that football instilled in him and something he has passed down to his children.
He said he is happy that the Globe Life Field project brought him back to his home state. Returning has also allowed him to take what he has learned from other parts of the country and other people and apply it to what he does now, he said.
“It’s been great — it’s been very eye-opening too, knowing that in those 20-plus years, Dallas, Fort Worth has also changed,” Ortiz said. “Both of us in our own ways have changed.”