Meet Tim Blatner, Principal and Technical Director, whom a consultant recently coined as his “code and spec guru” and we couldn’t agree more, as he is presently leading our office-wide effort to re-envision our specifications production and its integration with our modeling and drawing production software. As lead reviewer for quality management of drawings for construction, Tim recently reviewed documents for various projects including those for our out-of-state work: Soho Condominiums in Scottsdale, Arizona, Artisan | Circle Square in Cleveland, Ohio, and YMCA’s Western Plains Camp in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
When he was young he thought he wanted to be a Cubs infielder until a fifth grade math assignment had him measure and draw a floor plan of his family home. This exercise and seeing homes in magazines, those by John Lautner being most memorable, is what made him want to be an architect. Funnily enough, also while young, he saw a complex riser of the Sears Tower’s innards as he passed the building on his way to a Cubs game and thought to himself—I wouldn’t care to deal with that—but lo and behold coordination is what he has done well in his career.
Tim also enjoys family time, travel, and photography. Often the subject in each other’s photos, he and his family have fun with the play of light, framed views, reflections, and abstractions. Shadow photos have become a family tradition. You’ll see an example of this in the photos and one from their recent family trip to Colorado of Tim doing yoga at Red Rocks Amphitheater! What prompted one of the yoga instructors to approach his family after the class? Find out this story and more in the questions we asked him below. We also invite you to get to know him further through his staff bio.
We took some time to get to know Tim, and here’s what we learned:
Got any phobias you’d like to break?
“Well having been saved from, I guess within seconds of, drowning near Coal City during college by a life-guard dorm friend, I suppose I have an aversion to being in a large body of deep water, further away from solid footing than I can swim.”
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“Probably an infielder for the Cubs, but in fifth grade I decided I wanted to be an architect having had to draw the floor plan of my family’s home for a math assignment. I enjoyed the measuring and drawing, but also understanding the social distances of furniture arrangement. I also enjoyed seeing homes in magazines, those by John Lautner being most memorable. In contrast to our modest dwelling, I was fascinated by seeing his design of the Elrod Residence, saved from my aunt’s House & Garden magazine, with its stairway emerging from boulders on each side flowing into a gargantuan living space overlooking the desert.
Lautner apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a colleague of George Grant Elmslie’s in Louis Sullivan’s office, and Wright was a mentor to Bruce Goff. The latter four had all designed buildings in my hometown, influencing my appreciation for architecture at a young age, that in which I was later to add a design of my own, on a site which my fifth grade classroom overlooked. While I was young, on the way to a Cubs game, walking from the train to the EL past the north side of Sears Tower under construction, I saw a complex riser of the building’s innards. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t care to deal with that, but lo and behold, coordination is what I have done well.
n contrast to our modest dwelling, around this time I was fascinated by seeing the Elrod Residence by John Lautner, saved from my aunt’s House & Garden magazine, with its stairway emerging from boulders on each side flowing into a gargantuan living space overlooking the desert. Lautner apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright who was a colleague of George Grant Elmslie’s in Louis Sullivan’s office, and Wright was a mentor to Bruce Goff. The latter four had all designed buildings in my hometown, influencing my appreciation for architecture at a young age, that in which I was later to add a design of my own, on a site which my fifth grade classroom overlooked.”
What’s something you saw recently that made you smile?
“It was fun watching my sister’s almost 4-year-old granddaughter greatly enjoying herself simply tossing, rolling and chasing a small self-illuminated ball with our older niece on July 4th.”
What’s the best compliment you ever received?
“Perhaps it isn’t so important to remember and rank what people have said about you as opposed to fondly remembering those who have appreciated you for who you are, what you’ve done, and how you have worked with them. Nonetheless, just this week I sent greetings to a consultant, with whom I haven’t worked with in nearly two decades and he replied to me as his ”code and spec guru.” It is gratifying to have left a positive impression after so many years. Treat each other well and things can pick up from where they left off as if it was yesterday.”
What’s one of your favorite memories from the past year?
“We recently enjoyed a family vacation to Colorado, with one of our daughters treating us to a Denver Botanic Gardens visit and the other, to early morning yoga at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Now that was something to make you smile, as afterwards one of the gracious instructors non-judgmentally commented to us about my pose variations. Perhaps there was room for embarrassment – nah!”
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
“My wife and I enjoy family time, travels, and photography. We have fun with the play of light, framed views, reflections and abstractions. Shadow photos have become a family tradition. I can escape for hours with a camera and a large garden, sculpture park, museum, building, cityscape, or car show. Gotta love the distorted, warped, space-like grille reflections off the bullet-shaped chrome bumpers of a ’57 Chevy!”
What’s one thing that surprised you about working at FitzGerald?
“When I first started at FitzGerald, I didn’t recognize at first another one of the employees, who I had known 15-18 years earlier when we had lived in the same building.”
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
“In addition to that extracurricular community college technical drafting class, take a sculpture or pottery art class. Don’t only understand 3-dimensions from 2-dimensional drawing, but sense it and experience it with your hands, OR, just wait until your daughters fill your house with pottery of their own.”
How do you prefer to start and/or end your day?
“A good day starts and ends with prayer.”
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?
“I enjoy outdoor photography and would hope that others might find in some of my photos a hidden talent for the abstract, but one that is so very under utilized; and opposed to photography is field sketching, as was required oh so long ago during a school year of study abroad.”
What’s your go-to productivity trick?
“Just get started and focus.”
If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?
“Let’s look at it this way, and assuming that its function as a phone doesn’t count, there needs to be one each for written communication, obtaining information, and taking photos. So this would mean email (because it has greater utility than messaging), an internet portal, and a camera.”