I like painting with watercolors.

by Joel Barkley

My first summer in college I studied landscape architecture in Italy.  I learned how to watercolor by spending an entire day sitting in one spot in a garden: Villa Gamberaia, Villa Petraia, Bomarzo…—no food, no wine, just painting with a block of smelly Fabriano cotton paper,  three little tubes of paint, and ... Read More


I’ve Looked at Parks from Both Sides Now…

by Joel Barkley

from east and west, and still somehow, it's parks' illusions I recall. I really don't know parks... at all.I am presently working on two apartments that overlook Manhattan's Central Park. One is on the East Side and one is on the West Side. Every Wednesday, I traverse the park from one side to the other for construction me... Read More


Sign here, Michael Graves

by Joel Barkley

I blossomed early, and was told at age six that I should become an architect.  I moonlighted in high school designing house additions, then got an undergraduate degree in architecture.The portfolio that eventually got me into Princeton in 1991, where Michael Graves had taught the introductory graduate design studio sin... Read More


Mies' Last Building

by Joel Barkley

Mies. The last building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe stands in vibrant downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  The American Life Insurance Building's story echoes that of Mies' Seagram Building a decade earlier in that it also came about by way of a daughter's suggestion.  It is an oft-told story, Phyllis Lam... Read More


The Barbican Sink

by Joel Barkley

If a television set mated with a urinal, what would it look like?I first saw this sink in World of Interiors back in 2005 or so.  That magazine always has an old world strangeness that this particular sink totally embodies. It is set up like a 1960's TV, with hot and cold arranged in VHF/UHF fashion, and the reces... Read More


Where the Boys Are

by Joel Barkley

My first time in Fort Lauderdale was in the hot, lonely off season of August 1987. A twenty year old with a free weekend, I was expecting “Where the Boys Are” with Connie Francis. The 1960 film was glamorous spring break nirvana, with lots of frugging teenagers. I didn’t find it, nearly three decades after they f... Read More


For Your Memorial Day Reading

by Joel Barkley

I was quoted on outdoor kitchens in this month's Architectural Digest. Sometimes you don't even want see it from the outside! Here's one of our outdoor kitchens, from Architectural Digest's June 2011 issue. Trust us, it's there, tucked behind the white stucco form at left. Happy Memorial Day - now fire up the... Read More


Book Report: Las Casas del Pedregal: 1947-1968

by Joel Barkley

Today I will be reporting on Las Casas del Pedregal: 1947-1968.  A brief report—I haven’t actually read it, as I can’t read Spanish—but never mind.  It is the most hauntingly, beautifully sublime compilation of modernist images I’ve seen since middle school, when the miraculously stylized film strip vers... Read More


One from the Shoe Box

by Joel Barkley

I found an old box of construction photos of a favorite project from about 15 years back. I think the images are so good they should see the light of day. As with all projects, I started with a watercolor for our first client meeting. (The above watercolor was painted by me in the olden days and not created by a m... Read More


The Real Thing

by Joel Barkley

Tiles from Heath Ceramics always surprise me with their perfect balance of variation and consistency, clarity and mystery, depth and surface. They are always showing just enough hand to be handmade but free of forced "artistry." They are serious.They are still made in their bohemian Sausalito, California, factory, the same ... Read More


Camelbacks of Portland

by Joel Barkley

Our idea.We're very excited about being part of the recently announced 21st Century Shotgun Project in Louisville, Kentucky. We are designing a small, affordable, and green infill house to contribute to the revitalization of Portland, a riverside neighborhood in the west end of the city. Many of the vern... Read More


How Modern My Marina

by Joel Barkley

National Geographic, June 1967.It was the memory of a picture from my grandmother's saved 1967 National Geographic that brought me to Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City; couples embracing in a modern balcony dance, the lights of Chicago twinkling off to flat infinity. At the time of their construction in 1963, the twin ... Read More


Backyard Safari

by Joel Barkley

Rutgers TomatoesI have a big flower and vegetable garden this summer, so not much travel for me. It's been fun following friends' vacations on my new favorite, Instagram, while I weed, dirty. Here are some of the pictures I've taken:Sedum Autumn JoyMarigoldZinniaSunflowerFaunaI'm not photographing poignant architectural det... Read More


Molly Denver on a Different Kind of Summer Break

by Joel Barkley

his guest post was written by Molly Denver, architect at Ike Kligerman Barkley. I’ve always wanted to be an architect, and feel incredibly lucky that I get to do what I love. It is for this reason that, about seven years ago, I decided to find a way to give back, and began leading international teams with Habitat for... Read More


Five Things I've Learned from Interior Designers

by Joel Barkley

1. Alexa Hampton: Good art goes with anything.Ike Kligerman Barkley and Alexa Hampton in Architectural Digest's "A Sophisticated Connecticut Home." Photo by Durston Saylor.Look at the picture above! It works!2. Paul Wiseman: Never decorate with tile.Paul Wiseman's own house in Veranda's "California Dreaming." I’ve le... Read More


I've looked at piers from both sides now

by Joel Barkley

Job sites can be brimming (or rife) with serendipity.IKB project architect Andy Urbany surveys the scene.Just yesterday, at one of our fledgling houses, I upset the proud mason by paying more attention to the backside of his tapered fieldstone pier than to the front of it. It brought Frank Lloyd Wright's (see post last week... Read More


Our American Architect for the 4th of July

by Joel Barkley

I've always liked and thought about houses, and in elementary school I wanted to be a "house builder." In spite of weekends making my parents take me to construction sites, my teachers and friends all seemed to point me toward architecture instead. Maybe because I drew all the time, or because I wasn't handy.I was a vernacu... Read More


Little Houses

by Joel Barkley

I grew up in very small houses. As a child I daydreamed constantly about larger houses, inventing elaborate mansions in my brain.  Occasionally I'd try out a grand scheme and draw one of them up. Once I even told my fourth grade teacher the fib that my family planned to build one of them.At work, I do sort of the ... Read More


Horace Gifford

by Joel Barkley

This past fall, John Ike mentioned Horace Gifford - a little known architect who designed beautiful modern beach houses on Fire Island. Christopher Rawlins, who, like me, is an alumnus of both Georgia Tech and Princeton, has recently written a much-needed book on Gifford. “Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Arc... Read More


Floor Patterns and Floor Plans

by Joel Barkley

Service lavatory floor, McGraw Hill Building, New York CityI’ve been taking pictures of random ashlar floor patterns.I like their pinwheel effect, their centrifugal energy on the floor suggests an infinite possibility of directions.Ground Level Floor, New Orleans Athletic ClubPiet Mondrian's Composition with Gray and Ligh... Read More


"Does Lacroix do Kitchens?"

by Joel Barkley

There’s an episode of the 1990s British television comedy “Absolutely Fabulous” in which Edina Monsoon’s kitchen burns. She needs to rebuild it, and after pleading aloud the title of this entry, she has a design epiphany.She and best friend Patsy spontaneously hop on the Concorde to steal, or at least photograph, a ... Read More


Spanish Wells

by Joel Barkley

Nicky Haslam and I are up to something. Like most designers and architects we both love to design and rarely stop doing it, or at least thinking about it.  On a beach vacation in Barbados over New Years, we interrupted the flow of glamorous luncheons and parties with Nicky’s friends to do some work dev... Read More


I like painting with watercolors.

by Joel Barkley

My first summer in college I studied landscape architecture in Italy.  I learned how to watercolor by spending an entire day sitting in one spot in a garden: Villa Gamberaia, Villa Petraia, Bomarzo…—no food, no wine, just painting with a block of smelly Fabriano cotton paper,  three little tubes of paint, and ... Read More


Shaping Up

by Joel Barkley

Vertiginous breakfast room: framing underway for a new house.  We can start to feel the spaces inside and out.Skinny stacked porches Street frontThermal opening in board-formed concreteHybrid steel and woodLong gallery view with shoring... Read More


Inspiration in Shropshire

by Joel Barkley

From left: Joel Barkley; Birch Coffey; Tim Knox - Director, Sir John Soane's Museum; Chas A. Miller - Executive Director, Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation; and Stefano Aluffi-Pentini - Director, A Private View of Italy Last month I joined a group of fellow architecture lovers on a trip to Shropshire.  The Sir John So... Read More


Lifting a Brick House

by Joel Barkley

Last week I went down south to observe the raising of an 1820 brick house. It lies in a floodplain, and the safer height will prepare both the house and us for the significant renovation we're about to undertake.I've lifted a wooden house before, but this was my first solid masonry structure. Edwards Moving and Rigging... Read More


Town then Country

by Joel Barkley

When Philip Johnson died in 2005, the New York Chapter of the AIA requested reminiscences about him for their online journal eOculus.  These were mine:I was twice a guest of Philip Johnson. The first time, I schemed my way into his office in the Lipstick (now Madoff) Building to show him the thesis project I'd just com... Read More


My Soddy

by Joel Barkley

Two happy years of my awkward youth were spent attending Soddy-Daisy Junior High School, near the town of Soddy, Tennessee, a beautiful place nestled between Walden's Ridge and the Tennessee River, just up the road from Daisy.  I've heard that Soddy's funny name came from "soddies", which are clammy turf huts.  Wh... Read More


The Pentagon and Indian Pinks

by Joel Barkley

Last year when we landed a project on the north shore of Long Island, I thought I'd try a new shape.  It was May, high garden season, and while thinking about the floor plan and layout, I was inspired by wildflowers. These bright red Indian Pinks, which I'd bought a year earlier at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve nea... Read More


Workmanlike Kitchens

by Joel Barkley

Next time you watch Rosemary's Baby, note some product placement:   in Mia Farrow's Dakota apartment lurks the same red and orange cookbook that bewitched me and bedeviled my mother, the Life Picture Cookbook (below.)  Mom didn't cook from it, but complained about always stepping over it.  The book never stay... Read More


"Get My Good Side."

by Joel Barkley

As in portraiture, three-quarter views of houses can be flattering.My friend and collaborator Todd Klein (Todd Klein Inc.) shares a liking of the Chief Vann House in Chatsworth, Georgia. I saw it for the first time this weekend. Todd pointed out to me the wonderful asymmetry of the garden front.Top image: From the angl... Read More



by Joel Barkley

No trips to Morocco for me.  A knee injury has kept me close to home and feeling very blue.  And the hue of this color that transports my brain temporally is turquoise.  When I was young in Tennessee, the 1960’s building of my high school had faded turquoise spandrel panels.  They were to me the embodi... Read More