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Donna Barry, AIA
Design Principal, AC Martin

  • When did you first realize you wanted to become an architect?
    I was on a field trip in the 5th or 6th grade. We went to a museum and, like my classmates, I was disinterested in the stogy stuff . We could LOOK but couldn’t touch anything. At the height of my boredom… I was stopped in my tracts in front of a life sized marble sculpture of a woman in a long flowing gown… she had a veil over her face.. I was mesmerized.. how soft, how diaphanous the fabric looked.. this thought next to the fact that the thing was conceived and carved from marble, blew my mind… there was something beautiful and bizarre about it… HOW was that object in front of me possible? Then I started to look around the room and really started to SEE…light, textures, spatial relationships.. I knew then, at that moment that I wanted to make beautiful and bizarre objects, places and spaces.
  • Who has inspired you and/or influenced your career the most? And how?
    It will surprise most when I reveal this, because he is well known for being arrogant and misogynistic, but I think he mellowed with age. I met the most amazing group of people while working in his office. Those people created an amazing environment to learn and grow.. we were beat up and nurtured by Peter Eisenman daily (very long days)… He pushed us all, but was particularly demanding of the women in the office. Some might think it was because he didn’t think we belonged there, but he confided later that it was because he knew we processed things differently and he wanted to tap into that…I met amazing women in his office, Sarah Whiting, Lindy Roy, Winka Doubledam, and Ingeborg Rocker, to name a few. He asked, Sarah, and I to write essays for 11 Authors in Search of a Building. It never occurred to me to write about the work and process. The essay was published alongside writings by Kurt Forster, Sanford Kwinter, Michael Hays, Jeffrey Kipnis and Henry Cobb. Peter taught me that writing about the work is as important as the work itself.. It leads to a body of thought and work.
  • What are your recommendations for increasing diversity in the workplace and within the design process particularly?
    Hiring more women within the office is the obvious answer but it’s not the only and best answer. Diversity is not just about gender, it’s about diversity in culture, community, education, experience etc. My recommendations for increasing diversity at work and in the design process is to create a safe environment where the best idea always wins no matter who has it; a safe place where dialogue and dissent are respected; a place where people contribute at their own pace in their own voice. Hiring and nurturing people from outside of our field creates a different kind of diversity – gizmologists, (machinists, carpenters, makers) ; thinkers, (researchers, data analysts,) coders, (app designers, animators).
  • As a woman, what are your thoughts on the Los Angeles region as a place to work?
    I love LA

Donna Barry, AIA

Design Principal, AC Martin

With 30 years of experience in the field of architecture and urban planning, Donna Barry is recognized in the industry, and noted by her clients and peers, for her sharp intellect, thoughtful approach, design vision and collaborative process. Her experiences encompass a wide body of work that includes Higher Education, Justice, Performing Arts and Sports & Entertainment. She has worked in Arizona, New York and California and has garnered several design awards for such notable designs as the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre at the University of Arizona.

More recently, she was the Founding Partner and Managing Principal of her own practice, Substance Design Consortium. Through this experience, Donna adds a real world sensibility to her design approach. She is a designer, architect, and project manager – well versed in all aspects of the design and construction industry.

Donna received her Bachelor and Masters of Architecture Degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and spent a year studying at the acclaimed Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. She lectures frequently and has presented her work, taught design studios and participated in several final design juries around the country. Donna has been a member of the Board of Directors for Gnosis, Ltd., a not-for-profit organization that seeks to preserve and present the significant creative contributions of individuals that have changed our world.

Last updated: 23-Feb-2015 01:18 PM
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