Barba + Wheelock Architects

Barba + Wheelock Architects enjoys the process, art and craft of architecture and its unending potential.
We are passionately dedicated to the philosophy that architecture is a medium to engender social change and elevate the human spirit.

  • "As an Architect working on the Owner’s side of non-profits, I am fortunate to work with Barba + Wheelock on three significant historic preservation projects: The Abyssinian Meeting House facade restoration at the Cumberland Club and clerestory restoration at Mechanics’ Hall in Portland, all National Register properties. Barba + Wheelock are responsive and sensitive to their clients’ needs and budgets. Their response is well-informed in the specific technological needs of each of these historic buildings. For the Abyssinian Meeting House, B+W introduced specialized contractors to achieve excellence in masonry, historically-appropriate window construction (to replace plywood infill), structural improvements to the main floor, and 1828 plank flooring restoration. B+W negotiated with the City of Portland to allow for a recreated 1828 winder stairs, while meeting code compliance for life safety. The Maine Historic Preservation Commission approved their master plan and construction documents for restoring this third-oldest extant African American Meeting House historic interior. Barba and Wheelock demonstrated great flexibility in responding to discovered conditions and changing client requirements. The Cumberland Club restoration project was enhanced by their previous project experience at the Club and their knowledge of the historic details. They identified and orchestrated an expert group of construction specialists and acted as de facto construction managers. Historic Committee approval from City of Portland was readily achieved. For Mechanics’ Hall, their engineering and architecture team worked with the Construction Manager to develop a practical approach to replacing and restoring the deteriorated roof and clerestory monitor. I highly recommend Barba + Wheelock. They are good listeners and responsive to client needs as well as expert in the design and management of additions and renovations to historic properties."

    Paul Stevens, AIA, NCARB SMRT, Senior Architect
  • "I’m just completing a home renovation with Barba + Wheelock. And while I’m by no means a first-timer to renovation, I appreciated Nancy’s patience and guidance as we explored options; ultimately, she translated my words and vision into an amazing design. From the beginning of the design phase, through the end of the building phase, Nancy has been a sensational partner; her creative acumen, her incredible attention to detail, her pride and investment in the end result are outstanding. Yes the renovation resulted in a greatly improved home from aesthetic, flow and livability perspectives. But most importantly to me is the fact that I’m over the moon with how my new home looks and feels. It has exceeded my expectations and I’d recommend Barba + Wheelock to anyone who demands the absolute best in architectural design. In fact, I’d have to say that choosing Barba + Wheelock was hands-down the single best decision I made for my project."

    Laurie Kahn Owner, Residence Renovation
  • "Further to the Maine Maritime Museum's wonderful experience with B+W, the old architect's adage is that "white out is cheaper than tear out." The B+W team was so tuned into our vision, budget and needs that there was no need even for the "white out." Also, their team was the master of the gentle "push back" on ideas that they brought which were new to us and non-traditional (slate siding, for example) which we ultimately agreed to, and which were spectacular in the finished project. And, by the way, brilliant for those of us who worry about future maintenance costs. Wonderful people, thorough professionals, and high value with a low maintenance style of work."

    Stephen Caulfield Maine Maritime Museum, Chairman, Board of Trustees
  • "We worked with Barba + Wheelock on the museum's 2007 exhibit, "Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience." The project was on a tight timeline and budget and there was a long list of particular requirements because of the unique nature of this exhibit. B+W's design team worked with the engineers at Zachau Construction and our own exhibit designers and facility staff to design an addition that is entirely worthy of the museum and the exhibit it houses. They were innovative, they listened and understood our needs, and they followed through on hundreds of details to create a world-class space."

    Amy Lent Maine Maritime Museum, Executive Director
  • “Designing and building our home as a “team sport” made every bit of the experience full of creativity, learning, results, respect, and fun. Cynthia and Nancy, working closely with us and our builder, were outstanding architects and teammates. They listened to what we wanted, had creative ideas about how to achieve that, were always open to questions and concerns, and in the end, we have an amazing home the meets all of our needs and dreams AND the neighbors love it too.”

    Ann Houser Owner, New Residence
  • “You have done a wonderful job of incorporating many diverse perspectives and seemingly competing objectives in this initial design phase, and you have done so with unflappable calm and patience. Each of the members of your firm with whom we worked was responsive and professional.”

    Barbara Freeman Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, President, Board of Trustees
  • “Nancy and Cynthia are both adept at fielding long volleys of questions and comments, encouraging discussion and interaction, and still maintaining control of the group process. One of their key professional tools is active listening.  They use it effectively and well, and appear to have shared it with other members and associates of their firm.”

    Rick Kimball Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, Building Committee Chair
  • “… We love the finished product.  Indeed, the design has proven to be perfect for our building and our needs. They had been able to blend what we wanted to see happen within the constraints of an existing building."

    Rev. Burton S. Howe United Baptist Church, Saco, Senior Minister
  • “I wanted to express our appreciation for the outstanding job that your firm did in the design and implementation of the new building. I was particularly pleased and impressed with the way that you made a significant reduction in the space while retaining the character of the original design. I was also pleased with your spirit of cooperation with Wright-Ryan through the whole effort. I always felt that the three parties worked in harmony to make the project successful.   The impact of the new structure on the parish is truly exciting. Our membership and attendance have risen significantly over the past year due in large part to the attractiveness and enhanced functionality of the new parish hall. Our neighbors are delighted.”

    Donald Bonoff St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Chairman, Building Committee
  • “I was also pleased to read [in a Portland Press Herald article] that our choice of a New York architect transcended the usual pitfalls that Mr. McDonald might have anticipated. This was due not only to the considerable skills of principal architect Malcolm Holzman and his team in New York, but also to his partnership on this project with Portland architect Nancy Barba, whom the review fails to mention. One of Maine's leading architects, Ms. Barba has been a key player in this design from beginning to end, as the New York firm will readily attest. We knew in making this selection that she would bring to this project not only first rate architectural services, equal to those found anywhere, but also a Maine perspective on preservation, design, and building practices-which is exactly what she did.”

    Mark Wethli Bowdoin College, Chair Department of Art, Owner's Rep
  • “There is an enduring sense of pleasure and accomplishment each time I stay at the vacation home that Cynthia Wheelock and Nancy Barba designed for me.  From its conception through the closeout of the punch list they brought a level of excellence and commitment and imagination to the project that achieved a result beyond my dearest expectations.  Even before committing to the architect/client relationship with them I was already impressed with the diversity of vocabulary and concept that they had achieved with previous clients.  They worked with different idioms, different dreams, diverse budgets and diverse clients.  They had many octaves.  They love design.  They knew how to weave their vision into and through the visions of their clients.    They had imagination - volumes, vibrant exteriors that integrated with highly functioning interiors and a strategic sense of site planning, as well as materials, exterior and interior finish and the many points of design and livability that most clients are not experienced enough to do well with.  In the design process they were discoverers: non-ideological, receptive and iterative, pushing themselves and their clients to explore a range of ideas and alternatives.  And they had great partners in their choice of structural and MEP engineers.   Judy Schneider, their interior designer, has an eye equal to their own, and was exceptional in concept, esthetic and execution.  As to the building of the home – their detailed due diligence led to selecting an excellent builder and an unexpectedly smooth construction phase.  There was almost faultless conformance to a highly detailed set of construction documents and shop drawings.  The craftsmanship realized the highest ambitions of the plans. Cynthia and Nancy excel at broad concept and the finest details.  They have passion.  They have the people skills to bring all the teams together to realize the vision.  And they have created a home which brings pleasure to many guests and to me.”

    Freeman Zausner Owner, New Residence
  • “This project was particularly tricky due to the need to provide open and accessible interior space in a building that was originally designed with four separate and non- connected entrances. Meeting the program goals while preserving the significant architectural features required many hours of discussions with accessibility and preservation regulators and development of an unusually large number of alternatives. I credit Barba + Wheelock for both persistence and imagination in finally arriving at a solution that met the needs of all parties.”

    James Vekasi Acadia National Park, Chief of Maintenance, Owner's Rep
  • “With every step the board received detailed reports and accounts, findings and recommendations. And Nancy Barba's presentation of "Preserving the Waterford Library: Why We Should Care" at the Annual Meeting, not only impressed residents with the need for appropriate stewardship, but educated them about the significance of our John Calvin Stevens library.”

    Andrea Burns Waterford Library, President, Board of Trustees
  • “Nancy Barba designed and managed the extensive new construction following the major parish house fire at St. Luke's in 1986. Her innovative solutions to challenging handicap accessibility issues were inspired. The fire was actually an occasion for a major redesign and update of an historic building. Her real gifts are in sensitive adaptation for historic buildings. Both Nancy and Cynthia were valuable consultants as we renovated the cathedral nave, including lighting, flooring and sound system. Both of them have keen liturgical sensitivity which is so important in adapting liturgical space. [I] worked closely with Nancy and Cynthia to design a retirement home in Bremen, Maine. I was able, first-hand, to observe their collaborative style as we worked together to turn my rough ideas into a masterpiece. They are good with deadlines, thorough with details, cooperative with client ideas and deliver award-winning results.”

    Stephen W. Foote St. Luke’s Cathedral, Retired Dean and Owner, New Residence
  • “Nancy is easy to work with, especially with a committee of enthusiastic but discordant voices. She was sure that everyone felt heard and was open to talking through new ideas.”

    Gro Flatebo Merrill Memorial Library, President, Board of Trustees
  • “Nancy brings to the table a wealth of knowledge regarding public library buildings and a terrific sense of how design affects user experience. Nancy has been flexible in all aspects of her work from initial design input right through to preparation of construction drawings. In meetings with pertinent engineers, Nancy has managed to weave their collective expertise into a custom package for our needs.”

    Heidi Grimm Merrill Memorial Library, Library Director
  • “We are delighted with it in every way – outside, inside and the connector.  People comment on its beauty and how “natural” it looks with the original structure.”

    Doug Guy Centre Street Church, Chair, Building Committee
  • “They collaborated very well with a deaf architect and came up with an excellent design for a school serving deaf children at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. What made them successful was the way they researched the school's programs and needs of this unique group of children in terms of preparing them for life after school in the 21st century.”

    Larry S. Taub, Ed.D. The Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Superintendent
  • “Nancy Barba and Cynthia Wheelock are exceptionally gifted in working with church facilities. As committed Episcopalians, they hold deep aesthetical sensitivity to the liturgical traditions and values of sacred buildings and residences. “They are completely respectful of issues of preservation, and expert in finding needed resources for particular preservation challenges. Nancy and Cynthia are diligent, creative and well-experienced in the work they do. They follow through with dependability, and work well with the in-place leadership at each congregation, agency, residence or site. … their work reflects great reverence for our liturgical and spiritual values, as well as architectural expertise. They are able to discern, through in-depth conversation with relevant leaders and through their own gifts in attentive listening, the direction and style of desired renovations as well as new construction. They are highly skilled at presenting options and empowering folks in decision-making about those options.  Their work is on budget and on time. They have the ability to work productively with contractors and artisans to assure that desired goals are accomplished. They understand the link between buildings and mission, and seek to reflect that link in all the work they do."

    Chilton Knudsen Episcopal Church of Maine, former Bishop
  • “The concepts presented for our consideration were well developed, innovative and went far beyond our expectations in their comprehensiveness and creativity. Throughout this process, Nancy and her team listened carefully to our ideas, concerns and suggestions and worked with us collaboratively to create even more possibilities than we had originally contemplated. In meetings with the Falmouth Town Manager and his staff and in presentations to the Falmouth Town Council, Nancy represented her client's needs extremely well while remaining open and responsive to Town officials' comments and questions, and she has shown great forbearance as the Falmouth Town Council has paused to consider all current Town space planning needs and the resources available. Everyone on the Falmouth Library Expansion Committee has been impressed with Nancy Barba's attention to detail, responsiveness, creativity and willingness to address all of our concerns, no matter how small, and we have been delighted with the concept plans that she and her firm have developed for us. We heartily recommend Barba+ Wheelock to any organization planning a renovation, expansion or new building.”

    Dorothy Wentworth Falmouth Memorial Library, Chair, Building Committee
  • “The people of Georgetown are delighted with the renovated and expanded school you have provided for them. Only a few people know how much effort you put into the project, but everyone we have heard from is extremely pleased with the result.”

    Selectmen Town of Georgetown
  • “The forthright communication between all parties enabled the school committee to make decisions as a team with you and Davis & Hansom when design problems arose and when previous problems were uncovered. The excellent communication from design through construction allowed for a building that is beautiful, functional, and convenient to use. And, we were able to save important contingency funds. It was a remarkable job.   Everywhere in your design, the bright colors and natural light spill into the school and are sensational. Children spontaneously hop and jump with the new tile patterns. The school glistens and shines.   The integration, both interior and exterior, of the building design is seamless. The new addition and renovated areas look as though they were always here. They "belong." The landscape, walkways, parking area and bus drive all coalesce into a beautiful, thoughtful design. The overall effect is one of beauty, efficiency and light - it is so pleasant. Your design and vision are so evident everywhere the building was touched, and yet you were able to integrate it easily without it looking like an addition.   The students, staff, and the whole community want to express their thanks to Barba Architecture for your responsiveness-to our design suggestions and your understanding of the budgetary restrictions we worked under throughout the construction process. You are an extremely talented and creative architect whom made my first school construction project a truly enjoyable experience.”

    M. Robbins Young, III School Union #47, Superintendent
  • “I just can’t tell you how beautiful the school is – I go and sit, just sit, in the library.  The light and colors are fantastic.  It’s such an elegant, quiet room.  The whole process was a good one, and it worked.  You are an extraordinary architect – it all seemed so easy.”

    Kristin Malin Georgetown Central School, School Board Member
  • “After this past week and our meeting with St. Anthony Parish I am only reaffirmed that we made the wisest choice. I was blown away with your total professionalism with the preparation, presentation and your handling of the Questions and Answers from the general populous of greater Westbrook's Catholics.”

    Rene J. Daniel Former Director of Human Resource Westbrook Housing
  • “Nancy Barba is extremely adept at listening to owner concerns and is responsive to those concerns. Nancy and her firm are budget conscious, and work strictly within financial resources. Most importantly, as demonstrated by her design work on Brewster Hall at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, Nancy is knowledgeable about LEED building standards and is creative in designing interesting spaces while building "green." Brewster Hall was the first LEED Silver public building in the State. Because of Nancy Barba's knowledge of historic and green building renovation principles, she was invited to present on sustainable preservation strategies to the University of Maine Campus Planning Committee. The presentation was insightful, demonstrating knowledge in a developing field - environmentally conscious renovation of historic buildings.”

    Elaine Clark University of Maine, Executive Director of Facilities, Real Estate and Planning