Meet Paul H. Barkley, FAIA Member Emeritus

Where did you go to college?
I went to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville earning a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1960. While there, I received the school’s Margaret Thomas Biddle Fellowship for study at the Ecole d’Art Americaines in Fontainebleau, France (summer of 1959). My experience at U.Va. inspired me to give back organizing major class reunions beginning with my 30th, serving on the School of Architecture’s Dean’s Forum, and for the past twelve years co-sponsoring a Fontainebleau Prize to help deserving students attend the Fontainebleau summer study program that had made such an impact on my life and career.

Paul Barkley, FAIA

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person?
If one has an interest in and appreciation for the creative arts, as well as a sincere desire and passion for serving others, there can be no better course of study than architecture. The skills gained can also apply to a variety of other occupational endeavors.

What does it take to be an architect?
With passion, one must possess a dedication and commitment to devote considerable effort and time to gain the knowledge and master the skills necessary to be an architect. It will not come with a college degree, an apprenticeship, nor even a license, but only with a life-long commitment to expanding one’s knowledge and skills over the course of one’s life.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?
Surprisingly, there was not. From an early age, I enjoyed playing with building blocks, Lincoln logs, erector sets, and even cardboard boxes. At some point, I even sketched floor plans for our house – then revised them. One Christmas, My brother and I were given an American Flyer model train set. After setting it up in the basement, I then designed and built a village on it including commercial buildings, a church, and houses. Only a few were given to me as kits. On “career day” in the 8th grade, I wrote several papers on what career I wanted to choose. One was paper was to write about someone in your chosen field. I wrote about Cass Gilbert, architect of the Woolworth Building in New York City. My teacher gave me an “A,” but also added a note saying, “Why didn’t you write about Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s famous contemporary architects?” Of course, I did check Wright out and immediately admired his work but not wish to copy it.

What are you currently reading?
The most recent book was Architecture’s Odd Couple By Hugh Howard. One might not think they had anything in common, but they did. A very interesting read with numerous footnotes.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
I developed my love of French food when studying at Fontainebleau, and have enjoyed the flavors, presentations, ambiance, and sharing of a fine meal. The most memorable has to be an al fresco meal at Le Vieux Logis in the Dordogne region of France where the Michelin-starred chef prepared a “Tapas Menu” for an afternoon meal consisting of a dozen small plate courses such as Tart of duck breast carpaccio, Fois Gras, zucchini, and cornichon. Of course, the meal was accompanied by a fine white Burgundy.

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?
My desire to give back to the profession which I love and which has been so good to me, and its steadfast commitment to advancing the ideals of the profession including continuing education, and promoting an increased appreciation for design excellence. Likewise, I have also given back to my community that has supported my business enterprises by serving on city and business boards and commissions. Life is a two-way street where everyone benefits from working together for the betterment of the entire community.