One of the world’s most influential architects, Barry Berkus, passed away at the end of November. While I didn’t know Barry well, I admired and respected him greatly.
At one time I also feared him. Back in the day when I was a newly minted associate editor at Professional Builder, I had to interview Barry for a story. In the course of our conversation he made a reference that I didn’t understand, and I said so. Obviously irritated, he muttered something to the effect that journalists who wrote about architecture should understand the basics of it. Our interview terminated shortly thereafter.
Of course I was embarrassed by this incident, but in retrospect, I can relate to Barry’s annoyance. There’s no excuse for journalists to be unprepared when there’s so much information are at their fingertips. On the other hand, there’s never been a greater need for experienced architects and designers to share what they know — with each other as well as industry “newbies.”
Barry Berkus shared his knowledge and accumulated wisdom with countless numbers of people during his lifetime. He scared me away that day years ago, but if I’d called him with a question or problem later on, I have no doubt he’d have graciously offered his help. That’s the great thing about this business — you never have to be afraid to ask.