by: AIA New York
For over 20 years, Alan Barlis, FAIA, principal of BarlisWedlick Architects, has been at the forefront of Passive House design. Shortly after joining his firm in 1997, and after becoming co-owner in 2005, Barlis began leading the firm’s work in Passive House design, built upon a deep-seeded belief that high-performance principles can and must be accomplished without compromise to the architecture—regardless of a project’s style, scale, or budget. Under his leadership, BarlisWedlick Architects has designed and built over a dozen Passive House projects, including the first certified Passive House in New York State (Hudson Passive Project) as well as the world’s first Passive House church. Barlis holds a Masters of Architecture from MIT and he is an architect registered in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Florida.
This year, the Jury of Fellows of the AIA elevated Barlis to its prestigious College of Fellows in the first category of Fellowship, which recognizes architects who have “Promoted the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession,” according to the organizations’s definition. Now among the AIA membership’s three percent distinguished with Fellowship and honorary Fellowship, Barlis was recognized at the New Fellows Reception hosted by AIA New York and will be honored further at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City from June 20-23, 2018.
Q: What is your proudest achievement as an architect, or your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: My favorite project has to be the Hudson Passive Project, as it continues to be my touchstone—in practice, teaching, and advocacy—for efficiency, performance, flexibility, and enduring design. But my proudest achievement is the project of creating and fostering the growth of our firm. We are an extraordinarily bright, creative, disciplined, and thoughtful group, who love to work collaboratively and inspire each other to challenge ourselves to continually work smarter and achieve more for our clients.
Q: What is your earliest memory of experiencing architecture?
A: When I was quite young, we moved from a large urban center to a small rural town. Ours was one of the first homes in what was the first suburban development on former farmland. I spent my days crawling around every new house under construction. I was hooked.
Q: What is influencing your work the most right now?
A: For decades, we struggled to employ sustainable strategies, though without a coherent framework with which to measure achievements. Passive House has become our north star. I feel we now have both a strong set of examples as well as a more informed and engaged audience to achieve powerful, appropriate, efficient design.
Q: What are you working on right now, or what is your next big project?
A: We are very excited about a luxury hospitality compound, with a focus on organic agriculture, located near our Hudson office. It’s proving to be a gorgeous showcase of traditional/modern high-performance design.
Q: What does being a Fellow mean to you?
A: It is an incredible honor to be counted among the most innovative, inspirational, and accomplished women and men working in my field.
Editors’ Note: This feature is part of a series celebrating the 28 members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter that have been elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2018, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to both the profession and society. Learn more about Fellowship here.