TBA-U: A Dedication to Education

 “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.” – Kofi Annan

At TBA, education is in our DNA, at every level. Our commitment to learning allows us to design functional, strong, and beautiful homes – and to uplift our communities while protecting the planet.

As we enter our 30th year, we are focused on our education efforts – which we call Tim Barber Architects University (TBA-U) – and our dedication to mentoring the next generation of architects.At the start of the year, we meet with our team members individually to discuss their professional goals to find ways that we can work together to achieve them. Here is what we learned:


Director of Operations David Stone, who has taught at the university level throughout Florida, leads our firm in monthly coursework (we’ll share more about that leadership next month!). At TBA, he teaches sustainability, specifications, presentation skills, and Revit. 

Design Technology Manager Kyra Bauman also teaches Revit, 3-D modeling a home from start to finish. She shares a build-along course via Zoom, followed by an open forum to clarify any questions.

Kyra Revit Zoom
Kyra leading the build-along Revit course via Zoom.

Tim teaches adaptive reuse, perspective drawing and even feng shui!

Bagua Map Feng Shui
Tim’s illustration of a Bagua map from a feng shui presentation.
Tim Teaching
Tim teaches a perspective drawing course to our staff.

We work to increase our team’s expertise in sustainability – and learn from each other through thoughtful research. Senior Project Manager Kelly Becker taught us design strategies to protect against wildfires.

Wildfires Presentation
A snapshot from Kelly's wildfire presentation.

In 2024, David will expand this exploration to include documentaries such as The 11th Hour and TED Talks by Janine Benyus, William McDonough, and others. 

In addition, we support the efforts of teammates who are working toward licensure by providing resources such as Amber Book, AIA Associate presentations, LEED exam course preparation, and a library of study aids. Study groups (often with pizza!) foster learning and collaboration. 

Design Associate Maxwell Pittman, who passed his Architect Registration Exams (AREs) last year, shared “If it hadn’t been for the Amber Book subscription TBA provided, I would not have been able to pass the AREs as expediently and smoothly as I did. The investment our firm puts into education has been deeply impactful and is one of the defining characteristics of our company.”

We also learn from our collaborators and peers. Lunch & Learns are favorites for our team, allowing us to understand and discuss materials and equipment with experts in our field. Last year, we were grateful to learn from Pirch, Neolithic Materials, Snyder Diamond, Benjamin Moore, and Quiet Rock.


Site Visits
Project Managers tour their work with our teammates, explaining the connection between design documents and real construction. We get to meet our collaborators, gaining insight into problem-solving strategies.

Team Site Visit
Our team during a site visit to a ground-up home in Brentwood, Los Angeles.

Sketching in the Neighborhood
Our team gathers with Senior Project Manager Jim Coyle for sketch lessons, focusing on significant buildings within and around Los Angeles.

Sketch Group
Staff sketches from a group outing to the Schindler House, led by Jim.

Continuing Education
We encourage our teammates to study and foster relationships with peers in the industry: mastering the classical orders taught by the ICAA, learning about sustainability from the USGBC, or gaining insight into code issues from the AIA. 

Last year, David, Jim, and Tim attended the 2023 AIA Convention in San Francisco, studying accessibility, deconstruction, water conservation, indoor air quality, mid-century modern architecture, and ownership transition.

We’re proud when our teammates’ expertise is recognized by others, too. Recently, three teammates were selected for ICAA scholarships to attend memorable learning intensives:

  • Jim was awarded the Christopher H. Browne Scholarship to attend the 2023 ICAA Drawing Tour in Newport, Rhode Island.
  • Design Associate Omar Femat received a scholarship to the 2023 Intensive in Classical Architecture, in Denver, Colorado.
  • Kyra was a Rocky LaFleur Scholarship recipient for the 2022 Professional Intensive in New York City.
Winter Denver Intensive ICAA

Giving Back
Outside of TBA, Jim serves as a volunteer docent at the Schindler House and Hollyhock House (our team was lucky enough to be given a personal tour!); and Design Associate Sara Higley is training with Los Angeles Conservancy to become a docent at Union Station. Jim also teaches with New Heights via the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art – a program for middle school and high school students that fosters an appreciation of the practice of architecture through experiences in the classroom and in the field.

Omar and Kyra have also served as a teaching aid with New Heights; Omar is now part of the ICAA-SoCal Neoclassicists along with Jim (now an ICAA-SoCal Board member who serves on the Neos Events Committee). The Neos strive to develop emerging professionals who share a common focus of classical architecture, art, building, and design. Tim serves on the ICAA-SoCal Education Committee.

Jim New Heights Rotated
Jim teaching with New Heights.

Senior Project Manager Kelly Becker is an active member of AIA | LA Women in Architecture Committee, which strives to promote gender equity in the profession. She shared a panel discussing stepping into leadership within a legacy firm (we’ll share more about that leadership next month!).

Job Captain Kyra Bauman also mentors UCSB (her alma mater) students on portfolio preparation for Master of Architecture programs and serves as Membership Director for the Association for Women in Architecture + Design

WiA Powerful Conference Elliott Keats
Kelly (middle) with Job Captain Kyra (right) at last year’s WiA Powerful X Conference. Photo by Elliott Keats.

From our in-office efforts to pursuits abroad (see Tim’s learnings from his year in London here), we’re 100% committed to educating ourselves, our peers, and our homeowners so we can produce our very best work while contributing to the world around us. Is there a topic we might explore further? Reach out to us and let us know!