Globe Life Field steps into the brightest spotlight in baseball when the World Series starts tonight in Arlington.
It’s also a big moment for an architect with Dallas-based HKS.
“Been with the firm for 12 years and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on something as significant as Globe Life Field,” said Fred Ortiz, principal at HKS.
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Ortiz was the lead designer on the billion-dollar ballpark - the largest project to date for a man who grew up wanting to do two things: play football and be an architect.
Ortiz was raised in El Paso, the oldest of five brothers born to parents who immigrated from Mexico. He played baseball with his brothers and other boys in his neighborhood. It was high school football, though, that led to a dream that someday he could be a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.
He got close. He got to Arlington where the University of Texas at Arlington awarded him a football scholarship. He was in his freshman year when a knee injury sidelined him then the program was sidelined permanently. It was the last year UTA had football.
Ortiz stayed in Arlington and earned a degree in architecture. Now years later, he's the star player on the HKS team that designed the ballpark where the new World Series Champ will be crowned.
“A moment of pride, right? Satisfaction. And we tend to put a lot of time and effort into these things. So, once they're built and you see it come to fruition, it is just amazing and more gratifying when you see it being used as it was intended to be used,” Ortiz, 53, said.
The architect and design director finally got to see it in use last week and watch a limited number of fans take it all in. As he watched them, his mind also went back to his childhood and an understanding that this accomplishment was not his alone. “I thought about how I wasn’t just doing this for myself but also for my family,” Ortiz told The Dallas Morning News. “My dad always pushed us to take pride in our name. Yes, there was personal pride, but it was an overarching family pride.”
With coronavirus blowing the big debut of Globe Life Field this season and now capacity limited, most people can along see the ballpark on TV. While there's generous praise, the designer looks forward to the day people can see and appreciate all the work that went into it.
“I continue to get notes, texts, 'Wow! It looks great on TV’,” Ortiz said. “There’s so many great things about the project and one of my favorites happens to be the 1,000-foot long, 100-foot high wall that fronts onto Nolan Ryan Expressway. It has a really beautiful plaza and there's these beautiful arches and you get a different vantage point not only into the ballpark but out towards the district and it has these awesome balcony seats that give you great views of the field.”
Just as he relied on teammates on the baseball and football fields, Ortiz is quick to credit the players who executed the plans.
“I’ve been practicing for over 30 years and, it never fails to amaze me, that for me, it’s so easy to draw things on paper; to come up with ideas,” he said, “but it's very humbling to see the contractors, right? All those individuals that actually have a hand in building, physically building these structures we create and visualize.”
As a designer, Ortiz creates big vision ideas and sketches them all the way down to details. It’s a metaphor for his life. His big vision all those years ago growing up in El Paso was to be an architect. His career took him to other firms and in 2007, it brought him back to North Texas and the project just miles away from the university that helped him believe the dreams of a boy drawing in the dirt all those years ago could come true.
“I was blessed with an ability to draw, right? And so, I did that quite a bit,” he said. “Somehow to think over 40 years later, here I am having been a part of a huge team that's doing great things for Major League Baseball. I’m thankful for opportunities such as this. It’s a blessing. It’s not just one guy leading the entire thing. There are several players.”