“When I started this firm 25 years ago as a sole proprietor, I wore all the hats,” recalls our principal architect and studio namesake, Tim Barber. As his work garnered attention and projects increased in number, scale, and scope, Tim’s team grew from himself to the 20 architects, designers, and administrative support staff that now buzz around our recently expanded Los Angeles studio.
“It’s hard to imagine that fifteen years ago, we filled only a third of this office, and that I used to do the designing, field work, training, management, and invoicing myself,” Tim reminisces.
That worked well for some time, but as our studio grew to 20 people designing complex custom residences, Tim recognized that he couldn’t manage every aspect of the studio and still design and provide first-rate client care.
Enter our director of design, Kirk Snyder, and director of operations, David Stone, whom Tim installed to their leadership roles in late 2018. While this structure isn’t exclusive to our studio, it is new for our team and allows us to provide quality control and on-time white glove service.
“I’m delighted with this arrangement for several reasons,” Tim explains, “one of the primaries being that I have more time to listen closely to clients’ needs and expectations, to communicate with them, and to set realistic expectations and exceed them.”
Tim now also has time to teach.
“We’re not a university, but we’re giving our team opportunities to learn, grow, change, build their skill sets, and become accomplished artists. Having directors allows me to focus on nurturing individual team members’ talents and work with them to make our projects better than our homeowners could ever imagine.”
For the first time, says Tim, we’re showing clients three-dimensional renderings of their homes’ interiors and exteriors that are shaded and sometimes colored, and doing so in the earliest design phases.
“Our engagement with our homeowners, as well as their understanding and their delight is also ramped up,” Tim beams, “and that’s because Kirk Snyder and I are working with our team to make our drawings clearer and more accessible than ever before.”
With over a decade at Tim Barber Ltd., Kirk is our studio’s second-most seasoned architect (behind only Tim) and now champions our design processes as director of design.
“Kirk is uniquely qualified to be our director of design, partly because of his 12-year tenure,” explains Tim. “In that time and in many ways, Kirk touched a lot of our best work. He worked on residences large and small, inside and out, and in various styles as a senior designer, senior project manager, and — for several years, as a team leader. Kirk’s versatility and career trajectory are what I wish for everyone in our studio, and now he’s helping to make that happen,” Tim says, noting that Kirk trained many of our current project managers and continues to groom our design team for advancement.
“I support our studio throughout the design process by meeting with each of the project teams during Schematic Design and Design Development,” Kirk explains his role in the early, design-centric phases of our work. “I charrette with them and also review the progress of their designs.”
Together, Tim, Kirk and the project managers determine how to best present designs to each client, based on the clients’ personalities and visual learning styles. “It’s our responsibility to figure out how to help clients visualize and fall in love with their home well before it’s constructed,” Kirk continues.
We recently moved many of our projects to a software platform called Revit, which Tim describes as three-dimensional modeling software that, while common in commercial architecture for several years, has also become a tool in residential design. Where our projects typically weren’t three-dimensionally rendered until at least mid-way through the design process – if at all –almost every project is now in 3D from the very beginning.
“With Revit, we’re able to study ideas and show them to clients more quickly, and in a much more understandable form than some of our earlier 2D work,” Tim says. “It has helped significantly to have David provide weekly Revit instruction to our team.”
Prior to joining Tim Barber Ltd. in September 2018, director of operations David Stone taught Revit at the college level, simultaneous to directing design and operations at a multifaceted architecture and design firm in Florida.
“David wore many hats,” Tim appreciatively notes. “The diversity of his experiences, as well as his management of multiple teams with various responsibilities and skillsets makes him well-qualified to balance the workload and redirect projects and staffing, so that every project has exactly what it needs from the business side to be on time, accurate, and overall, extremely successful.”
David has also been instrumental in creating internal protocols and improving external communications. Within two or three weeks of David’s arrival, our team had wholeheartedly invested in making sure that expectations were shared and communicated swiftly.
“For our clients to know exactly what our scheduling expectations are – to be aware that something is delaying or accelerating their project’s schedule,” Tim continues, “and to have that weekly communication we have with our clients on our projects to talk about what’s next, what’s needed, what’s not happening in a timely manner, where we might anticipate trouble, or where we’ve had a huge success and can move forward – that kind of communication and client care is only possible when a team understands the importance of it.”
Now, ours does.
“The office is evolving,” David concurs. “It will continue to evolve into something better than it’s ever been, and it’s exciting to be part of that.”
But one thing that won’t change anytime soon?
“Let’s be clear: Kirk and David are much-wanted additions to our team in their roles, but I’m not going anywhere,” Tim grins.
“I love my team. I admire and respect them all. I love our projects. I’ve spent 25 years – first with just me and a few people, and now, with a much larger team, building the reputation and the skills that give us the opportunity to do amazing projects. It’s show time. It’s time to be all in, to leave it all on the field. We have what it takes, and our projects let us do that.”
“This,” Tim pauses to survey the office, beaming with pride, “This is exactly what I’ve dreamed of and it’s happening.”