One to one with Tim O'Donnell

Q: What made you pursue Architecture? 

My two best subjects during my senior years at school were Art and Tech Drawing which turned out to be the best fit for a course in Architecture.  Although it seemed the logical choice at that time I certainly had no idea what I had gotten myself into, when 11 years later I thankfully passed the final registration exam and could finally call myself an architect.


Q: Why have heritage buildings interested you?

I was always interested in architectural history during my university course in the 1980’s and was fortunate to be trained by one of Queensland’s most knowledgeable architectural historians, Don Watson, who was a lecturer at UQ at that time.  He was a major influence in developing my interest in heritage architecture during those early years which culminated in the completion of my thesis on the historic development of the Queensland house design.  I continued my development in heritage architecture after graduation when I spent three years working for a London architectural firm who almost exclusively worked on restoration and refurbishment of heritage buildings, which are not so uncommon in the UK. On my return to Brisbane in the early 1990’s at the time of the introduction of the Queensland Heritage Act, I formalised my education in conservation architecture when I completed a Cultural Heritage Management course at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1994.


Q: What is your favourite building in the world?

It is quite a universal favourite, but whenever I get the chance I keep going back to visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Antoni Gaudi. You always get something new with each visit as it is quite unique in both its form and for being a major catholic basilica that is still under construction.   I first visited the building in the 1980’s when very little had occurred since Gaudi’s death in 1926 but during the past three decades the pace of construction has increased exponentially and you can witness its design as it is progressively revealed.


Q: What keeps you busy away from work?

Reversing the middle age spread with lots of surfing, swimming, cycling and running keeps me very occupied and limits my other great pastime of drinking and eating. 


Q: What movie would you consider a classic?

Friday night is ‘movie night’ at home with the family when we watch the back catalogue of classic movies from the past thirty or so years while indulging in some cake, cookies or chocolate.  It is hard to pick just one, but some of my favourite’s that we have watched recently are Shawshank Redemption, Apollo 13 (and The Martian), La Dolce Vita, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Forest Gump (yes, I like Tom Hanks) and any of the Marvel movies for entertainment value, plus The Terminator series, because I have been on board with Arnie since the beginning.


Q: What’s the best thing about working at PDT Architects?

It has been said before, but it is definitely ‘the people’, that makes PDT.  It all stems from the top downs as the Directors play a large part in ensuring the culture that makes PDT is encouraged and fostered.  It is definitely the reason I have continued to enjoy turning up to work at PDT for over 20 years and so many other long time employees have also done the same.   


PDT Architects 17th Mar 2017


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