Early Years

Born in Miami, Florida she and her family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia a few months later. She attended Druid Hills Elementary and High School which was positioned on the edge of the Emory University campus. Many of the students were children of Emory University staff and faculty.

Her passion was art; drawing and painting, and she had already made a name for herself in the arts community. But along the way and through high school extra-curricular activities she developed an interest in volunteering. In the eleventh grade she won a city wide YWCA Community service award for her commitment to serve.

After graduation she attended the University of Miami in Florida where she was a painting major. After her freshman year she transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology to study Architecture

Georgia Tech

Barbara Field was the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Georgia Tech and she was the first woman to be elected to the Georgia Tech Student Council. She served for two years representing the School of Architecture. She was president of the Women Student Association, of Gamma Psi (service sorority) and chaired Georgia Tech’s Freshman Camp. She served on the Student Advisory Committee to the President for two years and on the YMCA Cabinet for two years. She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers. She served as both Treasurer and Secretary of Georgia Tech Student Chapter of the AIA. She was a staff writer for the Technique (student newspaper) and wrote for the Georgia Tech Engineer (magazine). In 1965 she was elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Internship prior to graduation

While at Georgia Tech she apprenticed with several prominent Atlanta architects including John Portman and Joe Amisano. She was on the design teams for Portman’s Regency Hotel and the Atlanta Gas Light Tower in Peachtree Center. At Toombs, Amisano and Wells Architects, she worked on the design team for Regency Square in Jacksonville, Florida.

John M. Johansen, FAIA , New Canaan, Connecticut

Goddard Library Clark University Worcester, Massachusetts

John M. Johansen Associates (Architect of record}

Ms. Field was assigned to this project when she joined the firm in 1966 and was a member of the design team.

L. Frances Smith Elementary School Columbus, Indiana

John M. Johansen Associates (Architect of record)

Under the direction of John Johansen, Ms. Field, one of a three member design team, developed the well documented concepts of Mr. Johansen into a reality.

Oklahoma Theater Center Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

John M. Johansen Associates (Architects of Record)

As one of three members of the design team, Ms. Field worked closely with John Johansen from schematics through completion of the construction documents for this award winning project.
National AIA Design Award and AIA Twenty-Five Year Award

State University of New York- Campus Master Plan Stony Brook, New York

John M. Johansen Associates (Architect of record)

Under the direction of John Johansen, Ms. Field, one of a three member design team, developed the well documented concepts of Mr. Johansen into a reality.

Benjamin Thompson Associates, Cambridge Massachusetts

List Art Center Hamilton College Clinton, New York

Benjamin Thompson Associates (Architect of Record)

As a design team member she was responsible for the performing arts elements in the building including the rehearsal hall, dance studio, projection/recording facilities, electronic studio and practice rooms.

Design Research Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts

Benjamin Thompson Associates (Architect of Record)

Part of a two-member team who developed and detailed Ben Thompsons” original design for the award winning retail building.

National AIA Design Award and Twenty-Five Year Award

“This marvelous building is conceived as a five-story glass showcase, faceted like the surface of a diamond. The facade is so transparent that the merchandise on display indoors becomes part of the architecture.”
-Robert Campbell, Architecture critic, Boston Globe.

Asheville City Council

Barbara Field served on Asheville City Council from 1991 through 2001 and is one of only a handful of architects in the United States to hold elective office. She was Vice Mayor from 1995 to 1997. She focused on housing, environment, transportation and planning issues.

“Despite intense lobbying from our community’s diverse interests, Barbara’s efforts have been reasoned, articulate and effective.”
Danie A. Johnson, FAIA

Among the projects and initiatives in which Field was principal leader are:

Affordable Housing

The fruits of Field’s leadership can be seen in the hundreds of affordable homes built in Asheville during her 10-year tenure on Asheville City Council, more than in any decade before or since.

  • As the first and only chairperson of the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium from 1992 through 2001, Field led the effort to produce 750 units of HOME-assisted housing, using $11 million in HOME funding to leverage over $33 million in other funds.
  • The Consortium continues to be recognized as a national model; communities across the country are using its strategies to create more quality, affordable housing. The Consortium’s work also received HUD’s Best Practices Award.
  • As chairman of the Mayor’s Committee on Housing and Community Development, Field’s stewardship directed $17 million of CDBG funds to creating more than 1,000 units of affordable housing in a city whose housing totals 33,500 units.
  • Field initiated the housing study that is the basis of Asheville’s Consolidated Strategic Housing and Community Plan for 2000-2005, which received HUD’s Best Practices Award in 2000. This study and plan led to the creation of the city’s Housing Trust Fund providing local funds dedicated to affordability without the federal red tape.

Compton Place, Asheville, NC

Developer: Mountain Housing Opportunities
Completed: 2003
Funded: Home Consortium
Architect of Record: Reinhardt Architecture, Inc.

Field and the HOME Consortium created policies that reward partnerships. Compton Place represents a partnership between a not-for-profit, private investors, and federal, state and local government.

Wind Ridge, Asheville, NCDeveloper: Mountain Housing Opportunities
Completed: 2001
Funding: HOME Consortium
Architect of Record: Reinhardt Architecture, Inc.

Designed for families, these two and three bedroom units are sited on underdeveloped property owned by another non-profit. The units have stunning mountain views and are adjacent to Compton Place.

Merritt Park, Asheville, NC

Developer: Mountain Housing Opportunities
Completed: 2003
Funding: HOME Consortium, Asheville City Council / CDBG
Architect of Record: Reinhardt Architecture, Inc.
with Robert S. Griffin, AIA design architect.

These mixed income condominiums are an example of smart growth, high density residential on the edge of the central business district. The project is the centerpiece of the once blighted West End / Clingman Avenue Neighborhood.

Making the connection between affordable housing and HandMade, Mountain Housing Opportunities incorporated original metalwork into this bus shelter at Merritt Park.

“Barbara is very knowledgeable about federal funding programs and how these contribute to local housing issues. She always sought the most flexible ways to use the funds for our community and demanded that the City staff look at all sides of an issue. Barbara provided excellent leadership region-wide, always working to be fair and address the most serious housing needs, which was not an easy task.”
Cindy Weeks, Mountain Housing Opportunitie

NC State Building Code, Volume IX, Existing Buildings

  • Recognizing the need for more innovative ways to deal with North Carolina’s stock of older and historic buildings, Field approached Sam Snowdon, FAIA, chairman of the NC Building Code Council, urging the Council to develop a flexible code for existing buildings.
  • In 1991, Snowdon appointed a nine-member group, including Field, other architects, preservationists, interior designers, developers, and fire and building safety officials. The committee reviewed every North Carolina Building Code since the first was adopted in 1936. When all the life safety standards were tabulated and evaluated, the committee authored a code that encouraged rather than discouraged the re-use of older buildings, especially those of historic significance.
  • After public hearings and minor adjustments, Volume IX, Existing Buildings of the North Carolina State Building Code was adopted in June 1994. In Asheville alone, the tax base has increased ten-fold, and the code has been used to convert nearly all of the older buildings in the central business district to new, vibrant uses. Volume IX was superseded in 2015 with the adoption of the IBC Existing Building Code with North Carolina Amendments

  • From Interstate highways to parks and greenways, Field made the connection between transportation and planning for her community.
  • Field chaired the Asheville Urban Area Transportation Advisory Committee from 1991 to 1997. With a Federal grant, a model citizen participatory process to determine the appropriate corridor for Interstate I-26 through Asheville’s center was held. Never before had NC DOT allowed public participation before design work was complete. She put the citizens first in the process.
  • In 1993, Field initiated and chaired the Pedestrian Action Community Evaluation (PACE) committee, which reviewed every street and sidewalk in the city. Citizens and staff tabulated deficiencies, mapped sidewalks, cataloged obstructions to walkability and identified accessibility issues.
  • Field recognized Asheville’s need for a greenway system and initiated the planning process. The first greenway, completed in 2000, connects an active city park and the campus of UNC-Asheville. She lobbied other council members for an additional two cents of the property tax to be dedicated to streets, sidewalks and greenways.
  • She led the way to get the Asheville Transit Authority to build a new transit center, to adopt a “full pulse” public transit system that shortens the waiting time for transfers, and to return the old terminal to its former use as a public park
  • Field co-founded a twenty-year community and economic development strategy based upon arts and crafts. The plan provides a permanent, growth economy that is regional, sustainable, realistic and respectful of the cultural richness of the area’s traditional and contemporary handmade crafts. Recognized as a national model, HandMade has already attracted six million dollars in private and public funding.
  • Field recognized that makers, their ideas, activities and creative productions represent significant resources to Western North Carolina and that they were undervalued. Because of her insightfulness, the aesthetic value of handmade crafts from Western North Carolina have been leveraged into a significant, regional economic development initiative that is being felt nationally.
  • More than 100 communities and nonprofit corporations have adapted HandMade’s sustainable economic development planning process for their own use. All projects are done in partnership with other organizations and institutions. Below are a few of the initiatives that this collaborative principle has been most successful in creating.
  • Craft Heritage Trails: In partnership with Blue Ridge Host, High Country Host, and Smokey Mountain Host, this project has designed a series of self-guided tours throughout western North Carolina and the three partners market the trails together—a first for their tourism marketing efforts. Funding sources include NC Travel and Tourism, Federal Highway Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Advantage West, a state funded regional economic development group.
  • Small Town Renewal: This downtown revitalization project helps small communities evaluate and use existing assets. Each of the six towns learns from the others in a textured program of mentoring to develop community revitalization plans and secure funding sources. The Kathleen Price Bryan Family Fund is a financial partner.
  • Landfill Gas Powered Studios: In partnership with the Blue Ridge Resource conservation and Development Council, EnergyXchange, Mayland Community College and the Penland School craft community, HandMade has established craft business incubator studios powered by landfill methane gas from an abandoned landfill in Yancey County.
  • The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design: Integrated as a part of the University of North Carolina System, it was established in partnership with UNC-Asheville, Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University. The purpose of the center is to incorporate crafts with an emphasis on creativity and design as a valued part of university curricula.
  • Craft Across the Curriculum: In 1998, the Southern Highland Craft Guild entered into a partnership with HandMade and the Kenan Institute for the Arts to develop a curriculum for the elementary schools of Western North Carolina. The goal of this initiative is to use craft as a vehicle within an interdisciplinary curriculum to teach math, science, language arts and social issues to children from kindergarten through the 5th grade. Selected lesson plans will be included on the Merlot Web site, a premiere site sponsored by PBS and the NEA.