Sunday, November 28, 2004

Edward Larrabee Barnes, 1915-2004

A diehard modernist who never succumbed to the whims of postmodernism, Edward Larrabee Barnes died in September at the age of 89. Trained at Harvard in the 1940s under Walter Gropius, Barnes was part of the second generation of American modernists that included Philip Johnson, I.M. Pei, and Paul Rudolph.

One of Barnes's most beloved works was his 1961 Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, a grouping of linked shingled pavilions overlooking the ocean in Deer Isle, Maine, that garnered the 25-Year Award from the AIA in 1994; the jury noted it as an "early and profound example of the fruitful and liberating fusion of the vernacular building traditions with the rationality and discipline of Modern architecture."

In 1989, Barnes told Architecture "I've always been drawn to making things as simple as possible, if you can do that without making them inhuman or dull or oppressive."Barnes got his start after World War II, working for industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, on low-cost, prefabricated housing in California. For the young architect, there was an inextricable link between modern architecture and social commitment, if not enough money. Regardless, after establishing his firm in Manhattan in 1949, he kept his hand in housing, albeit designing private homes. Other lauded works by Barnes include the 1971 Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the IBM Corporate Headquarters tower on Manhattan's Madison Avenue.