Building a Project Team: The Power of Inspired Collaboration

It is no secret that building, renovating or restoring a home is a team effort. At Tim Barber Architects (TBA), this teamwork is essential. Interior and landscape designers, contractors, engineers, craftsmen and vendors contribute their unique perspectives and talents; and share our passion and attention to detail to make exceptional homes. This month, we highlight a handful of ways these experts and visionaries uplift our work.

Senior Project Manager Kelly Becker says: “We learn each other’s strengths and preferences, and are able to merge them to reach our common goal of creating a beautiful, functional design,” she shares. “We’ll often share tasks, offering feedback in between presentations. This process is not only fun, but gives us a chance to expand our design knowledge and awareness of homeowners’ tastes.”

One of Kelly’s current ground-up projects with interior designer Joan Behnke & Associates is a splendid example of this in practice. “Joan’s team presented and received approval of ceiling concepts, and passed them along to us to produce 3-D models in Revit and coordinate the structural design. After we presented the models to the homeowners, the interior designer added materiality and detail to the views.” 

An example of a ceiling rendering in Revit from one of Kelly’s other recent projects.

Within historic homes, we also partner with interior designers who juxtapose old with new — complementing our own focus of integrating traditional design with modern solutions. Project Manager Jim Coyle recalls interior designer Steven Volpe selecting modern and transitional interiors for an existing 1920s Wallace Neff house, masterfully installed by McCoy Construction.

We celebrate our partnerships with incredibly skilled contractors: “Many of our builders do it all very well,” notes Senior Project Manager Ari Engelman. Ari worked closely with Ben Keiser and Iggy Brenninkmeyer of Artech Construction on our recent Classical Contemporary residence in Beverly Hills, CA. “They offer creative solutions in the field, produce mockups and keep the job site’s atmosphere upbeat — bringing a home to life with gorgeous results,” Ari says.

The family room within our Classical Contemporary residence in Beverly Hills, CA. Construction by Artech Construction; Interior Design & Furnishings by Coppee Design; Photography by Sam Frost.

Project Manager Sergio Schwark is enjoying this support on a new residence in New England. “Managing a project long distance on the East Coast has been streamlined thanks to a wonderful general contractor, Scott Bourhill Builders,” Sergio remarks. “Despite the three-hour time difference, he’s gone out of his way to make himself available. He has introduced us to knowledgeable local consultants and vendors, helped coordinate multiple material sample deliveries, sent pictures of site progress and accommodated design changes while making sure the construction schedule was not greatly affected,” says Sergio. 

Careful coordination by Scott Bourhill Builders allowed our team to review material samples virtually and in person, including this mockup of mortared stone.

Back on the West Coast, Senior Project Manager Korey Kromm is wrapping up Construction Administration for a homestead in Santa Monica, CA. Delightful features flourish from our collaboration with interior designer Kristen Panitch in the new custom home, thoughtfully installed by Valle Reinis Builders (VRB). “VRB installed the herringbone hardwood floor without any transitions between public spaces on the first floor,” explains Korey. “Their team also prepared a layout of the hardscape on site, based upon drawings by landscape designer Laurie Lewis. It allowed all of us, along with the homeowner, to experience the scale of the design before installation,” explains Korey.

Left: The hand-finished herringbone floor was laid with incredible care by VRB, with no breaks or transitions in the pattern. Right: The hardscape layout (designed by Laurie Lewis) on site, prepared by VRB to scale.

Often, our consultants cross-collaborate throughout the design process. Project Manager Katie Peterson recently directed the renovation of an historic home under application for the Mills Act program. “The Mills Act also strives to preserve important landscapes. For this rehabilitation, we expanded our team to include landscape designer Pat Benner, cultural landscape consultant Kelly Comras, arborist Cy Carlberg and historic preservation consultant Chattel, Inc.. We developed a site plan that was informed by historic plans, photographs and landscape materials that respected the historic fabric and integrated the owners’ needs for modern living,” Katie explains. This holistic, detailed approach aligns us with our frequent collaborators, and ensures nothing within the homes we design is left to chance.

Historic drawings of the home’s site and landscape plan were an important element of obtaining a contract under the Mills Act.

Prior to breaking ground, we cross-check and integrate engineers’ specialized work into our Construction Documents, ensuring each home and property is as safe, durable and strong as possible. Project Manager Jim Coyle recalls recent projects in which engineers offered innovative solutions to design challenges. To protect nearby coast live oaks from an addition to a hillside project, structural engineer Taylor and Syfan proposed a pier and structural slab foundation. “On a canyon bluff coastal lot for an expansive new home, civil engineer Quang Tran of T Engineering Group proposed a creative alternative for connecting to the sewer main to save the owners significant cost and time during construction, and minimize disruption to the neighbors,” Jim says. “And for another new open plan home in Hermosa Beach, structural engineer Ken Niver developed a design that didn’t require any steel framing — saving the owners cost, and likely time, during construction.”

Construction Managers also bring valuable perspective to our projects. Katie is currently working with Stonemark Construction Management on an extensive renovation to an historic estate in Santa Barbara. “Stonemark compiles a qualified team and helps facilitate the project process to ensure everyone is working toward the homeowners’ goals. By having someone overseeing the larger picture, each member of the team can focus on their specialized area more efficiently,” Katie shares. 

During our 25+ years of creating architecture, we have learned that the sum of our collective skills far exceeds individual experience and talent. We are thankful for the privilege to work with — and learn from — so many gifted professionals in our industry. Learn more about our process, and see our completed projects to see the results of inspired collaboration.