Monday, January 15, 2007

Architect Gets Respect in Tough Profession

Source: San Diego Business Journal
Publication date: November 13, 2006

By Broderick, Pat

Architecture is a harsh mistress.

So says Norman Barrett, senior project architect for San Diego- based Smith Consulting Architects.

"You love to hate it and hate to love it," he observed. "But I can't think of anything I'd rather be in. It's artist as martyr."

These days, Barrett rides herd on a variety of projects, including grocery stores, shopping centers and mixeduse developments. His portfolio includes the San Marcos Civic Center Market Place, the Gerald Ford Business Park in Palm Desert, 990 Hope Plaza in Rancho Mirage, the Pavilion at La Quinta, Lake Elsinore Marketplace and the Forum in Carlsbad.

"When it comes down to it, it's a huge balancing act, with clients, budgets, cities and economic restraints," said Barrett. "The architect becomes the fall guy, or the point man. It's a very tough profession to get respect within the profession itself. But I enjoy it. My philosophy is, do the best job you can."

According to some of Barrett's mentors and former associates, that has always been his personal credo.

Medley Of Mentors

Architect Linda Moreland, now retired, first met Barrett at what was then Brown Leary Oremen Architecture and Planning in Sorrento Valley back in the '70s, before he went off to study architecture.

"He was doing drafting," said Moreland, the first woman to have served as president of the American Institute of Architects' local chapter. "Norman was pretty green."

She encouraged him to discover his own style - and make sure that it actually worked.

"I am a firm believer that form should follow function," said Moreland. "Work out the floor plan and then design, not the other way around. A lot of times architects have an ego thing, and are building monuments to themselves. They lose touch that the client wants it to work first."

Well-Rounded Professional

Barrett has learned this lesson well, she said.

"He is a wonderful designer, and he has grown well as an architect and a human being," said Moreland.

Ian Kay, an assistant professor of architecture and interior design at Mesa College, and an adjunct instructor at Woodbury University in San Diego, also knew Barrett from the early days at Brown Leary.

"He came to work part-time, and we made him do everything," said Kay. "That's how most of us start out. He did delivery, ran prints."

But Barrett impressed the staff so much that they moved him into some "real work," said Kay.

"He was always up on all the computer stuff," he said.

As for Barrett's artistic talents, said Kay, "He did everything, from incredibly beautiful ink drawings, in the days when they were still doing them, to hard-core construction drawings."

Another Brown Leary alumnus is Michael Comulada, senior project architect at Smith Consulting, who has known Barrett since he was "a young lad."

"He is a very, very bright person," said Comulada. "He's now one of our main designers in the office here. I have watched him grow from the very bottom to a good position as one of the chief designers here. He's come a long way."

Copyright San Diego Business Journal Nov 13, 2006

(c) 2006 San Diego Business Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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