Edward Larrabee Barnes, a New York architect and former master planner of Yale who designed several buildings and spaces at the University, died of a stroke on Sept. 21 in Cupertino, Calif. He was 89 years old.
Barnes designed the Cross Campus Library, Luce Hall, the School of Management campus, the Rose Walk and the basement and attic suites in Vanderbilt Hall during and after his tenure as master planner from 1968-1978.
Barnes’ peers praised him for his warmth and charm and said he will be greatly missed.
“He was a gracious, charming, eminently civilized person who was talented professionally but also a warm and gracious human being,” said Daniel Rose ’51 who funded the Rose Walk in front of Sterling Memorial Library.
New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger ’72 also praised Barnes for his personal qualities.
“He was a very warm, kind and genial man,” Goldberger said.
History of Art professor Vincent Scully praised Barnes for what he characterized as a gentle, humane nature to his works.
“The main and important thing about Barnes’ designs is he did something to humanize architecture — [and to] build gentle, humane, contextual architecture,” Scully said. “He was not trying to knock your eyes out with heroic gestures.”
Scully said of all the buildings Barnes designed at Yale, the SOM is characteristic of Barnes’ style and a good building by which to remember him.
“I think he did a very good job with the SOM. He pulled [the buildings] together in a splendid, simple way,” Scully said. “It’s very unobtrusive and fits in well with the rest of campus.”
Goldberger said Barnes carefully developed his modernist architectural style.
“He was a very committed modernist [with] a deep commitment to a particular style of modernism that was out of fashion towards the end of his career but has begun to come back around in fashion now,” Goldberger said. “He believed in a clear, crisp modernism but in buildings that felt anchored to the earth.”
The Rose Walk was originally designed to integrate SML into the Yale campus. Before the Rose Walk was designed, SML was located on a street and cars passed by the library frequently.
The success of the closing of Manhattan’s 116th Street, which ran in front of Columbia University’s Library, was the catalyst for the implementation of the Rose Walk.
Barnes also designed CCL, which was originally supposed to be more above ground, according to Scully.
“Originally it was going to have a lot more skylines and openings above ground but graduate students got together and blocked that,” Scully said. “They wanted it underground and organized opposition to it and managed to get it modified.”
Goldberger said Barnes’ most important contributions to the field of architecture were not the buildings he designed at Yale, because there was not much construction or growth in the 1970s when Barnes worked at Yale. Goldberger said the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is one of Barnes’s most significant contributions to the field of architecture.
Barnes also designed the IBM corporate headquarters in Manhattan, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, D.C.