It is with a heavy heart that we announce the departure of Monte Olinger. Monte has been an integral part of the senior leadership team at Baker Barrios for nearly 18 years and has brought to our office a creative spirit and professional talent like none other. As a leader of the firm, Monte also served the City of Orlando as past president of the Downtown Arts District and as a member of the Public Art Advisory Board. As Monte moves into the next chapter of his life, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you for his continued dedication to the firm, our employees, and our community. Monte – you will certainly be missed!
A note from Monte . . .
To my Baker Barrios family,
I want to take a moment and thank you for all the meaningful moments and art we have created together at Baker Barrios. When you realize that during the week we spend more wakeful hours with each other than we do with our own nuclear families you begin to understand the importance of chemistry. I think that is a strength of the team at BBA. Recognizing talent. Understanding limitations. Finding a fit. Flexible and open to change. High expectations. Chemistry acknowledges each element of talent, skill and proclivity. Talent ingrained in all of us, gifts that we are meant to use. This unique pool of talent has morphed and moved to meet our friends’ and clients’ needs over the years. This has been a large part of our external success, but there is more.
There is compassion. From the first day I walked in to work at Baker Barrios (then known as Farmer, Baker Barrios) the company was aware that I had some neurological limitations; movement, balance and coordination issues that made my professional life more than a little difficult to manage. The company worked with me over the years to shore up my weaknesses and nurture, develop and grow my talents. Recognizing I was a divergent creative BBA encouraged me to think out of the box, to create (i.e. chase butterflies). They saw a talent for the fine arts (at that time watercolor). They saw that painting helped me manage my neurological challenges, mitigating the symptoms of the neurological disorder I was battling. Positive Distraction.
They encouraged me to keep looking for answers to my health puzzle and allowed me the time I needed to get the diagnosis I had been looking for since I was 8 years old. In 2007 I was diagnosed with Segawa’s Syndrome at the University of Florida’s Movement Disorder Center. The journey didn’t end there, nor did BBA’s commitment to supporting my engagement with Segawa’s Syndrome. I was allowed and encouraged to help develop a non-academic painting class for patients with movement disorders (Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Muscular Sclerosis to name a few) as part of a program at the University of Florida named Arts in Motion. Ten years later I still receive images of new paintings from some of my students, now friends. Along my professional journey as a developing artist, BBA encouraged me to show my work at fundraisers, then galleries, regionally then nationally. They recognized the power of compassion and the result was a better designer; one that was able to contribute to the body of award-winning work that BBA has amassed over the years.
I think it safe to say, from start to finish that Baker Barrios Architects has never made me feel disabled. In fact the mission was to make me feel enabled.
I am now at a cross roads and have decided to try another path in life. It is time, my body is telling me so. Funny as it sounds it is a path that BBA help me find. I will be further developing my painting and artistic expressions full time. As all of you know Design and Architecture are incredibly demanding professions filled with deadlines and long hours. A tough career even for those who aren’t disabled. The road to my success was paved with compassion, a commitment to helping me find opportunities that best fit for my skill set and showing appreciation for a job well done.
Again thank you to my BBA family, past and present. Life is good.