Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: Barley & Pfeiffer Architects is a leader in green design throughout the United States and Canada. Our specialty is in designing regionally appropriate custom residences and light commercial spaces that are beautiful and energy efficient. With a strong commitment to our clients’ spatial desires, we specify sustainable and healthy building products and quality building techniques allowing clients to live well while living green and have fun doing it!
Alan Keith Barley, AIA, principal of Barley & Pfeiffer Architects, is a licensed architecture and interior designer. He is the lead designer and artist for our award winning firm. Alan’s design success is due to his uncanny ability to synthesize client visions & needs while incorporating “green building” principals to create stimulating and elegant architectural forms and spaces. His experience and educational background reinforces the Barley & Pfeiffer commitment to the number one premise of sustainable architecture – regionally appropriate design.
I am a professional Architect and Building Scientist practicing throughout the United States and Canada. I am the founding principal of Barley & Pfeiffer Architects. The firm has become recognized as a national leader in the fields of resource conserving design, healthy living & work environments, and high performance construction methods. In 2004, I was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for my lifelong achievements in “Mainstreaming Green”.
Alan joined forces with me in 1989 to form Barley & Pfeiffer Architects. Since then, the firm’s architectural projects have been featured nationally in Fine Homebuilding, USA Today, Better Homes and Gardens, Natural Home & Garden, Environmental Design & Construction as well as in regional publications including Texas Architect, the Dallas Morning News, Austin Monthly, the Austin American Statesman, and Tribeza. The firm’s work has also been featured on popular TV programs such as HG-TV, This Old House, and the Today Show.
Novedge: You have been recognized as pioneers of the green building movement. How did you first become interested in sustainability in your practice?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: It goes back to the energy crisis of the early 1970’s along with the energy conservation/ green building movement all brought to America’s attention by the oil embargo crisis. The movement inspired me to pursue a degree in the field that is now called Green Building Sciences.
Novedge: How much has changed since then?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: Surprisingly little has changed since those days. We are still making the same mistakes from the 70’s and 80’s. The over-reliance on solar technologies and technology in general concerns me because that brought about the failures of the movement in the 80’s and would hate to see that happen again.
Novedge: What is your approach to green architecture?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: Our approach to “green architecture” is to be Green by Design. Having a building designed to use less energy from the very beginning is better use of resources and materials. Part of this design is to be regionally appropriate.
Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: Hamilton Pool Road House – Barley and Pfeiffer Architects
This home was intended from its beginning to be self-sufficient and highly energy efficient. It was designed to be site specific, meaning the needs of the owner would be seamlessly connected to the needs of the site, working below and vent out through smaller shaded openings on the west side – or through the stair tower within the main house, taking advantage of a “thermal siphoning” effect. By nature of its placement with the main body of the house behind it, the porch is naturally shielded from the cold winter winds – making it an enjoyable place of retreat on most winter days and evenings. The premium materials chosen enhance the feeling of casual luxury.
Mueller Project – Barley & Pfeiffer Architects
The Speculative House at Mueller is a single family residence designed within the context of the City of Austin’s initiative to redevelop their old municipal airport site. The redevelopment of Robert Mueller Municipal Airport is envisioned as a sustainable mixed-use urban village located in the heart of the city. With extensive goals set to address some of the city’s housing and economic needs, a variety of housing options were utilized, contributing to an overall goal to create greater density. This single family project required finding a thoughtful balance between the project programming needs for a potential family with children and the premium cost of a compact lot across from the development’s main “Central Park”. Auto access presented challenges to creating and maximizing flexible backyard outdoor play spaces for family activities. We also added the challenge to create a look that was visually distinct yet harmonious and home-like within the context of somewhat strict architectural guideline requirements.
The project was rated a maximum of 5 stars by Austin Energy’s Green Building Program, was featured on the 2009 Parade of Homes™ Tour, and was proudly rated for the coveted LEED Platinum award by the United States Green Building Council.
Novedge: What software do you use?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: Barley and Pfeiffer Architects were early adopters of Revit. This 3-D modeling program just really communicates the projects across all the user layers, from the Project Manager to customer to the builder. The firm has also used BIM, Building Information Modeling since the firm started 25 years ago. My graduate study in Architecture was to work on the development of an energy modeling program that the firm still uses a derivative of today. This specialized proprietary program is not available commercially. We feel the commercial programs are too simplified for the information we need.
Novedge: How do you collaborate with clients during the design process?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: With lots of communication. We find that the more face-to-face interaction, the better. When working with couples on residential projects, there is no substitute than having both people having their input. Over the last 25 years, we have developed a specialized Programming Guide that finds out not just what you want but why you want it. If we can find that out, we can point out the ramifications of those desires and if needed, suggest a cost effective and inspiring approach.
Novedge: Do you have any advice for people who are looking to hiring an architect for the first time?
Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA: A prospective architect should exhibit thoughtful comprehensive planning that will reduce the cost of the long-term ownership of the home. Our firm’s goal is to get clients in the homes of their dreams and let them have fun doing it!
Written by: The Novedge Blog
Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do