Barton Myers

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Barton Myers (born November 6, 1934) is an American and Canadian architect and president of Barton Myers Associates, Inc. in Los Angeles, California. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Myers is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a former member of the Ontario Association of Architects while working in Canada earlier in his career.

Barton Myers was born in Norfolk, Virginia, graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and served as a jet fighter pilot for five years in the United States Air Force, based in the western United States and then for three years in England. Following this period he attended architecture courses at Oxford and Cambridge University and returned to the United States to study architecture. He received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently worked with Louis Kahn from 1964 to 1966. He established his own practice in Toronto in 1968, where he was principal in the firm of Diamond and Myers from 1968 until 1975, when he formed Barton Myers Associates in Toronto. In 1984, he opened an office in Westwood district of Los Angeles that is now the firm's base.

In 1986, Barton Myers was the recipient of the first Toronto Arts Award for Architecture in recognition of his contribution to the city, and in 1994, he received the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal. In 2002 Barton Myers was awarded the 2002 American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter Gold Medal².

Myers is also a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA), "one of Canada’s most enduring cultural institutions."11,12 Founded in 1880, the RCA celebrates the exceptional achievements of professionals working in Canada in multiple disciplines and under the patronage of the Governor General of Canada.

Barton Myers has taught architecture and planning at both the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. He has also served as the Thomas Jefferson Professor at the University of Virginia, the Graham Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and has been a Visiting Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Barton Myers has held a continuing appointment as Professor of Architecture at University of California, Los Angeles School of Architecture and Urban Design since 1980.

in 1994, Barton Myers' architectural body of work was published as part of the "Masters of Architecture" book series. Mainly in colour, the Myers monograph contains 52 projects illustrated with over 350 photographs. Other volumes in this series include: Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli, Murphy/Jahn, Peter Eisenman, Terry Farrell, Arup, Kisho Kurokawa and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.5

Design themes[edit]

One of the themes running through Myers' work is the theme of urban consolidation. The infill projects he completed in Toronto (Dundas Sherbourne Housing and Hydro Block Housing) served as prototypes for an even distribution of urban density seen in Europe and earlier in his hometown of Norfolk, and opposed the increasing trend of dense, high-rise city centers surrounded by urban sprawl, exemplified in cities like Dallas. His philosophy for urban renewal was published in "Vacant Lottery", with University of Toronto professor George Baird, and led to a renewed interest in city planning and offered a strategy for increasing population densities within cities while preserving the existing residential fabric.

Another architectural theme that Myers helped reintroduce to North American architecture is the idea of the urban room. Myers believes that the success of a building lies in its ability to define the surrounding streets, squares, forecourts and courtyards that make cities livable. This idea is evidenced in many of Myers' designs including the Phoenix Municipal Government Center, Woodsworth College, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Stage III Expansion.

Myers' work often makes use of off-the-shelf components, or ready made industrial products that can be readily assembled on site. His early studies with steel and aluminum products with companies such as DOFASCO and Steclo resulted in prototypes for mass-produced housing. The factory produced steel houses built in Hamilton, Ontario by DOFASCO (1971) are still standing and in good condition. Myers continued this exploration of off-the-shelf components with the Wolf House, Toronto (1974) and commercial projects such as the Alcan office headquarters in Toronto. This exploration has been constant throughout his career and can be seen in projects ranging from single family residential to large civic developments. As of 2007, four of Myers' steel house projects have been built and continue to be recognized by architectural peers for their innovation.1,4 In 2006, Barton Myers wrote a book "3 Steel Houses" which chronicles his explorations of steel house design throughout his career and its historical context.

Myers' work is also identifiable by his commitment to adaptive reuse and his approach to old/new architectural combinations. His sensitivity to the existing urban fabric supports the idea that additions should openly relate to the existing structure and context rather than mimic architectural style. The Myers residence (1971) became an architectural example for modernist infill housing relating to the historic Victorian neighborhood. Later in his career, Myers' work in adaptive re-use was honored by the California Preservation Foundation (2002) for a modern steel and glass addition to the Sacramento Hall of Justice, an example of early Beaux-Arts Classicism in Sacramento.5

In 2007, Barton Myers' House in West Los Angeles design was honored with the highest award level by the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles. The jury referred to the house as "the most promising concept in residential".1 This work continues 30 years of research in steel house design, first inspired by Myers' early experiences on naval aircraft carriers, and the work of Charles Eames, Le Corbusier, Rudolph Schindler and Pierre Koenig. In 2007, Barton Myers' Wolf House was arawrded the Prix du XXe siècle from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada which "recognizes the enduring excellence of nationally significant architecture, such as landmark buildings in the historical context of Canadian Architecture".4,6

Myer's design for the Seagram Museum in Waterloo, ON was considered an "icon of Canadian Postmodernism and initiated a metamorphosis of the area."³

Contributions to Post-Secondary Institutions[edit]

Barton Myers has taught architecture and lectured at Colleges and Universities since 1969, mentoring a generation of North American architects and planners. Over his career, Myers has contributed to the growth, planning and development of major academic institutions. Many of these institutions exemplify the core principles inherent in Myers' work and design philosophy. Myers' campus contributions include:

Projects (partial listing)[edit]

Exhibitions (partial listing)[edit]

  • 2007 “Architecture of the Now and NEXT” Broad Center at UCLA, AIA/LA Awards (28/06/07-15/07/07)
  • 2007 Festival of Architecture, Toronto, May 9-12th (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Prix du XXe Siècle Award)
  • 2006 “West Coast Residential; The Contemporary and the Modern” A+D Museum, Los Angeles, CA (10/27/06–01/05/07).
  • 2006 “The Architecture of the Theater: Learning From Italy” Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Los Angeles, CA (9/20/06–10/20/06).
  • 2005 “Forever Modern: 50 Years of Record Houses” Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Pratt Institute, New York, NY.
  • 2005 “Forever Modern: 50 Years of Record Houses “Forever Modern: 50 Years of Record Houses, AIA Boston, MA.
  • 2005 13 Los Angeles Architects, Design Within Reach, Los Angeles
  • 2005 34 Los Angeles Architects, A+D Museum, Los Angeles
  • 2002 “3 Steel Houses” UCLA School of Architecture
  • 2001 “3 Steel Houses” University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara (04/10–06/17)
  • 2000 International Bi-Annual Architecture Exhibition, São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 2000 “[Re]Visioning Chapala; Architects Imagine 21st century Santa Barbara, University Art Museum, UCSB (July 29 - Sept. 3)
  • 1998 The 1998 American Architecture Awards. The Chicago Athenaeum - Museum of Architecture & Design. June 8–August 16th, May 2–Jan. 3.
  • 1998 “Building Culture Downtown,” New Ways of Revitalizing the American City, National Building Museum, Washington DC.
  • 1997 The Chicago Athenaeum, Frank E. Moss Courthouse Design Competition and New San Diego Federal Courthouse
  • 1995 Royal Institute of British Architects, Manchester City Art Gallery Competition Exhibition
  • 1994 United States Institute of Theatre Technology, Prague Exhibition
  • 1991 “The Competition for the United States Pavilion, Expo ’92, Seville, Spain,” Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 1990 Mandeville Gallery, University of California, San Diego Exhibition of Phoenix Municipal Government Center model and drawings
  • 1988 Architecture of Democracy, Phoenix Municipal Government Center, Wight Art Gallery, University of California, San Diego
  • 1987 Reconnaitre Le Corbusier, Faculty of Architecture Gallery, University of Toronto
  • 1987 Koplin Gallery, Los Angeles, Barton Myers Associates: Show of Models, Drawings and Sketches
  • 1987 Phoenix City Hall Competition, Wight Gallery, UCLA
  • 1986 A Measure of Consensus: Canadian Architecture in Transition; Vancouver, New York, Toronto, Montréal
  • 1985 Architects’ Drawings; The Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Vancouver
  • 1985 Recent Work; Clare Hall, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England
  • 1984 Monument: Manifestation on Dealing with Ancient, Monuments Now; Studium Generale, Rijksuniversiteit Limburg, The Netherlands
  • 1984 Dreams of Development; The Market Gallery, Toronto
  • 1983 The Urban Solution: Toronto Life; Sable Castelli Gallery, Toronto
  • 1983 Fresh Frontiers: Canadian Architects Abroad; The Art Gallery at Harbourfront, Toronto
  • 1983 Seagram Museum Exhibit: School of Architecture; University of Toronto
  • 1983 Aesthetics for the Cold; Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo
  • 1982 Major projects, Canada in Berlin; Akademie der Kunste, West Berlin
  • 1982 A Design Process, A Grand Avenue; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • 1982 Exhibition of design drawings; Noval Gallery, Vancouver League of Architects, Vancouver
  • 1980 Exhibition of Selected Projects; the School of Architecture, University of Toronto
  • 1980 Ghent Square; the Canadian National Exhibition sponsored by the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
  • 1980 Selected Works; Walker Art Center, as published by City Segments
  • 1980 The Work of Barton Myers as published in Design Quarterly No.108, UCLA
  • 1979 Exhibition of Drawings; Ballenford Architectural Books
  • 1979 Architectural Awareness Week, Queen’s Park, Toronto
  • 1974 Perspectus ’74, Exhibition of City of Toronto Planning and Architecture, Toronto Chapter of Architects, David Mirvish Gallery
  • 1974 Housing Union Building, Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis
  • 1974 Dundas/Sherbourne, City Hall, Toronto
  • 1973 Work of Diamond and Myers at School of Architecture, University of Toronto
  • 1973 “Exploring Toronto”, Toronto Chapter of Architects, Nathan Phillips Square

Television features[edit]

  • 2000 HGTV (Home & Garden Television) “Water”
  • 2000 House Beautiful A&E (Arts & Entertainment)
  • 2000 HGTV (Home & Garden Television.) “21st century Homes”
  • 1998 Canadian Television : The Wolf House Revisited.
  • 1997 “Great Performances”, The New Jersey Performing Arts Center Opening Night Gala Celebration. KCET, February 13, 1997. New Stage.
  • 1997 “New Stage for a City”, A Special Production of “State of the Arts,” NJN/New Jersey Public Television.
  • 1991 City Television: Fashion T.V.: Architect
  • 1979 Channel 19 Urban Renewal Program
  • 1977 CBC Money Makers
  • 1974-75 CBC Consultant Urban Programs
  • 1973 CITY Money Game CITY Home Show
  • 1972 CTV “The Human Journey” series - Where We Live
  • 1972 CBC “The Man at the Centre” - Urban Open Spaces
  • 1971 CTV “People Worth Knowing”
  • 1971 CBC “Man at the Centre” - City Streets

Books (partial listing)[edit]

  • "West Coast Residential: The Modern and the Contemporary" by Greg Bellerby (Jan. 2007).
  • "3 Steel Houses" by Barton Myers (June 2006), Images Publishing, 128 pages.
  • "Modern American Houses" by Clifford A. Pearson (Oct. 2005), pp. 126–129.
  • "Up North: Where Canada’s Architecture Meets the Land" by Lisa Rochon (Aug. 2004), Key Porter Books, pp. 139, 145-146, 148, 168, 215-216, 239, 253, 254-255.
  • "Brave New Houses; Adventures in California Living" by Michael Webb (2003), Rizzoli, New York, pp 156–163.
  • "House: American Houses for the New Century" by Raul A. Barreneche, & Cathy Lang Ho (2001) Universe Publishers, pp. 64–73
  • "New Stage for a City: Designing the New Jersey Performing Arts Center" Michael Webb (1998) Images Publishing Group, 128 pages.
  • "Museum Architecture" by Justin Henderson (1998). Rockport Publishers, Inc., pp. 24–31.
  • "Interior Spaces of the USA: A Pictorial Review of Significant Interiors". Volume 3, (1997) Images Publishing Group, pp. 190–191.
  • "On Stage: Super Structures" by Phillip Wilkinson (1996) Dorling Kindersley Ltd., pp. 14–15.
  • Masters of Architecture Series: "Barton Myers Selected and Current Works" by Barton Myers and Stephen Dobney, Images Publishing Group. (1994) 256 pages.
  • "Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture" by Sylvia Hart Wright (1989), pp. 24–25, 89.
  • "Educational Spaces: A Pictorial Review of Significant Spaces" by Antique Collectors Club, (1999), pp 132–135, 192-193.
  • "25 Years of Record Houses" by Herbert L. Smith (1984). McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 96–99.
  • "Contemporary Canadian Architecture, The Mainstream and Beyond" by Ruth Cawker and William Bernstein (1983), Architectural Book Pub., pp. 188–191, back cover.
  • “Vacant Lottery” by Barton Myers & George Baird (1978) Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 51 pages.
  • "Glass House" John Hix (1974), Phaidon Press: London, pp. 177, 179.

Interesting facts[edit]

  • Barton Myers is a descendent of Moses Myers, "the first permanent Jewish settler in Norfolk, Virginia. Within four years of settling, he had established a five-vessel fleet for his import-export business and built a classic Georgian townhouse."7 The "early Federal style townhouse (1792) sits amidst the bustle of downtown Norfolk and is one of the first red, Flemish-bond brick homes built after the American Revolution."8,9
  • Barton Myers' grandfather (also named Barton Myers, 1853-1927) was a former Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia, was once one of the city's most prominent citizens and "served on the board of the 1907 Jamestown Exposition."10 In 2007, the Chrysler Museum of Art mounted an exhibition about his life significant contributions to Norfolk, Virginia at the Moses Myers House.
  • Barton Myers has served as an Advisory Committee Board Member to Moses Myers House/Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia since 1999.

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