Before he started working at FXFOWLE Architects in New York City, Tim Macy majored in English at Ball State.
He was a freshman in 1981– the first year Rai Peterson ever taught at BSU. He also came back to Ball State to teach while he got his master’s degree in architecture.
Today, Tim tells us how his education not only helped him get a job, but helped him see the world in an entirely new way.
English majors aren’t only interested in English.
Being an English major has led me less to a “job” and more to a way of thinking about the world.
Let’s face it: as English majors, our real “skills” would make us the first ones thrown overboard from the lifeboat. We can’t fish, tie knots, stanch bleeding, or navigate. So what if you’ve read the unabridged Clarissa? You’re still shark chum.
But being an English major gave me both the blessing and the curse of wanting to learn EVERYTHING.
My time teaching at BSU included stints with the Writing in the Design Curriculum across the street at CAP. This led to a post-graduate degree in architecture and a very scary move to New York City in 1996 with my English major wife: Lori McFarland (very scary because we had no money, limited prospects, and a U-Haul trailer filled with dog-eared Penguin paperbacks).
Fast forward almost twenty years. Now, I’m a senior project manager with FXFOWLE architects. I’m involved in all aspects of the design and construction when it comes to cultural-educational projects throughout the city.
Writing is useful in any field.
On any given day, I meet with clients, manage a staff of designers and technicians, and assemble a set of drawings and specifications that a contractor can build to. My most recent project involves reconstructing a century-old synagogue that was destroyed by a fire in 2011. This keeps things interesting: I’ll start the day explaining the nuance of a design with a Rabbi, and I’ll end the day with a carpenter, trying to figure out a tricky construction detail. Contrary to popular belief, most architects write much more than they draw, and I often have to toggle between the poetic and the practical, depending on circumstance and audience. Drawing and writing are really just two different ways of thinking, after all.
Some extra advice to English majors:
Learn how to fish, tie knots, stanch bleeding, and navigate.