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Circle of Excellence Award: Architect David Barrett



Eric Bakke

Colorado's vast array of innovative architecture and design didn't just happen on its own. What began as a wild settlement for fortune-seeking adventurers has become a state that calls out to creative minds. Our inaugural Circle of Excellence awards pay tribute to five pioneering professionals who have paved the way for Colorado's design evolution. 

David Barrett
FAIA
Architect; Founder and Principal in Charge of Design, Barrett Studio Architects
barrettstudio.com

Why he was selected:

Barrett’s commitment to modern, sustainable architecture, as well as his understanding that architectural excellence is found “beyond the sticks and bricks” has made his name synonymous with forward-thinking residential design.

Awards & Accolades:

Among many other awards, Barrett has received honors from AIA Colorado as both Firm of the Year and Architect of the Year; he is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado’s College of Architecture and Planning.

Why architecture? What was it that drew you to the profession?

As a kid in Pittsburgh, I found myself drawn to architecture, initially because I liked to draw. I drew naturally in three-dimension and was lucky enough to have a teacher in elementary school who recognized this. She recommended me for an art program at Carnegie Mellon. It was a rare opportunity for a working-class kid in Pittsburgh. Two other opportunities that contributed to this long path: visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, and interning in an architect’s office at 15 years old. I enjoy people, learning how others live, work, play or pray. It is always a new adventure. It’s what has held my interest for the past 50 years! I am blessed.

What is it about Colorado that inspires you?

Beyond our incredible natural environment, I love the sense of possibility that Colorado offers. From my grad school days in Boulder in the 1970s to the present, I have always sensed that the culture of the Mountain West is a work in progress. In some ways, Coloradans are more verbs than nouns, engaged in active lifestyles and personal quests of “becoming.” This sets the tone for the architecture and the urban place making that is inventing the future.

What are your predictions or expectations for the future of architecture?

With a sense of possibility comes a need for keeping our egos and our brilliance in line with our expanding ability to create the latest and greatest. Future architecture must keep our humanness alive. The rise of the livable city that encourages walking, living in community, and being more responsible for our carbon footprint reflects a movement away from the suburban model of disconnection. I think young people get this. They want more out of life than just more and bigger. Quality is assuming a renewed position of influence. My sense in all of this is that architecture can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Architect David Barrett started his Boulder-based firm in 1977 with the idea that modern design can work hand in hand with environmental stewardship.

[Photo credit: Michael Shoppen Photography]

(above) This near-net-zero, 1,000-square-foot ski chalet in Nederland was the Sustainability winner at the 2008 AIA Colorado Design Awards and defines Barrett’s talent for stylish, eco-responsible architecture.

[Photo credit: David Barrett Studio Architects]

(above) The cover feature of  Colorado Homes & Lifestyles's June/July 2014 issue, this Boulder home is a study of top-quality modern architecture designed within a myriad of neighborhood restraints.

[Photo credit: Ron Ruscio Photography]

(above) Located in the Boulder foothills, this home was designed to meld into its craggy landscape and features an open floor plan and several decks, patios and bridges.

Other Circle of Excellence Winners:

Architect Don Ruggles
Interior Design Yvonne Jacobs
Landscape Architects Kurt Culbertson and Richard Shaw

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