When Barry Berkus attended architecture school, he says, no one cared about housing design. “It was beneath most of them,” he notes of his fellow students, who preferred civic or industrial design. But he saw a niche, he says, that would allow him to make a difference. To suggest that he's accomplished that goal in his 40-plus years of practice is a vast understatement. Untold awards and industry accolades aside, Berkus and his team at B3 Architects, a Berkus Design Studio claim direct design responsibility for 600,000 homes, communities, and nonresidential projects—although it's safe to say that the vast majority of the work has been residential.
His most recent Builder's Choice awards follow the same lines: Since 2000, B3 Architects has won for a residential remodel, a single-family detached community, a golf course clubhouse, and a custom home. “People were seeking something different, and we met that objective,” says Berkus. Looking forward, he is encouraged by renewed popular interest in modernism, which is fueling a greater appreciation of all architectural styles among homeowners. In turn, he says, this appreciation “allows architects to push further and be braver, knowing the product will sell.” He's also hopeful that sustainability will win out over less-responsible practices and products, and that respect for housing within his profession will continue to grow.
“To create a house that is art, not just shelter ... gives dignity to the people who live in it and creates a quality of life above what they'd find anywhere else,” Berkus says. “That's something we've worked hard to accomplish.”