Legendary residential architect Barry A. Berkus passed away on Friday, November 30 at the age of 77. He was surrounded by family at the Serenity House hospice care facility in Santa Barbara, Calif.
During his 45-year career, Berkus designed more than 600,000 homes, as well as resort and master-planned communities, commercial and institutional projects, and custom homes in the U.S. and abroad. He founded two design firms, B3 Architects and Berkus Design Studio, both based in Santa Barbara, with office across the nation and world.
Berkus got his start in 1956 as an intern for the late William F. Cody, a prominent Palm Springs architect. Under Cody’s tutelage, he assimilated the principles of Modernism. Later on, after starting his own practice, Berkus put his unique signature on virtually every type of new-home design.
A pivotal project for Berkus was Park Imperial South in Palm Springs, Calif. During a celebration of the community’s 50th anniversary in February 2011, Berkus remarked, “[Park Imperial South] opened up a way of looking at living space that still informs my designs. It inspired a preference for light, flexible room definitions, and a fluid connection with the outdoors.”
Berkus was recognized numerous times over the years for his contributions to the home-building industry and residential design. He won hundreds of design and planning awards during his career. The editors of Professional Builder named him the most innovative architect in U.S. housing and one of the most influential people in home building in the past 75 years.
"Upon graduation from the University of Miami School of Architecture, I had the opportunity to open an office for Barry in Miami. These are the years that I have always referred to as the ‘University of Berkus Graduate School.’ No one could have served as a better mentor and friend to me. He was always just a phone call away. His insights into the industry have saved me numerous times over; I am still in business because of the advice he has given me over the years. I will never measure up to the creative force and business acumen of Barry Berkus, but he set the bar for which we all strive. The world has lost an amazing architect, a great creative mind, a true friend, an insightful mentor, and a remarkable human being. I am so very blessed and thankful that our paths crossed so many years ago. He will be greatly missed," said architect Don Evans, The Evans Group, Orlando.
"Barry’s fame and accomplishments as architect/planner, good citizen, and Renaissance man are well catalogued and the accolades are well deserved. Yet what many will point to is his enthusiasm for making things better, and his gift for inspiration. He made us feel like the special, talented ones, the ones who would do great things. He was an exceptional mentor and true friend, and we will carry that spirit forward. Barry would like that," said Rebecca Hardin, president of Open Line Public Relations, Santa Barbara, who worked for Berkus for five years.
For more on Berkus, visit: http://www.independent.com/news/2012/dec/02/barry-alan-berkus-1935-2012/ .