Who we are
Every building is a biography.
Whose biography depends on the architect's approach.
We look to the users, the owners, the brief and the context for inspiration, shaping buildings and projects with them in mind. We see our role as interpreters, not the subjects of our projects. We may write and direct these movies, but we try not to star in them as well.
Biber Architects is a tightly organized, highly experienced team of architects and designers working for more than 25 years in New York and nationally.
James Biber FAIA LEED leads the firm and conceptually drives all our projects from the first introduction to the opening party, often designing the client’s next project and the next one, etc.. James is responsible for such icons as the Harley-Davidson Museum, the Fashion Center Needle and Button, Gotham Bar & Grill and Mesa Grill, the Glass House Visitors Center and a long list of visual gems.
Instead of staffing our projects to match a company's large middle management one-to-one, we operate at the highest levels of decision making. That is where choices are explored and designs are created. It is the creative-decision level.
What we are doing
We are a design-led architecture firm.
Not every firm has design as its primary concentration, and not every one that does can boast a range of projects as wide and varied as ours.
Some firms are process oriented, favoring the technical and procedural parts of a project. They may design but their strength is in execution. They are often architects of record and work with design partners.
Some firms are ideologically oriented. Projects they produce fall into a consistent portfolio of similar projects. They are working on and refining a set of ideas that are about their interests. We all know a few ideological architects.
We like to invent something different for each project. The result is a body of work that has a point of view, but not a fixed set of forms.
Harley-Davidson is different from The Glass House, which is different from Disney, which in turn is quite different from CUNY and so on. Projects for these different clients are, understandably, different.
The idea that a client deserves a building or interior or exhibition or urban design that is uniquely theirs is a common notion. But the idea that these projects should be based on their identity is an approach we have pioneered.
We call it “The Architecture of Identity”.
Why we are doing it this way
Smaller, it turns out, is better.
We are a highly focused, efficient and dedicated team who design big projects. We like the challenge of large ideas and we like the efficacy of small organizations.
Some firms focus on specialized solutions; healthcare, education, space planning, etc., our firm focuses on projects with a strong Identity component.
For us it is all about Identity. If the brand (or the personal identity of the client, owner or user) is paramount, we are very interested in solving that problem. While this may not apply to back office space, or storage warehouses, or detention facilities, it does apply to retail spaces, cultural buildings, corporate projects, even private residences for the right individuals.
What the client, and ultimately the user, gets from our way of making architecture is a custom project designed by a team of intimately involved architects and designers. Understanding a client’s image needs are as important as understanding their functional needs.
What we get from our way of making architecture is an office that is fun, clients we really like, relationships that matter for the long term and projects in which we take great personal pride.
That is the ultimate reward; designing quality work in a great work environment for individuals and firms we care about and with whom we have a positive working relationship.
What more is there? Well, there is money, but we find that when you take care of the people and the work, the money takes care of itself.
Biber Architects is based on our experience in making the highest quality, most bespoke solutions for the best clients we know.
How we do it
It takes an extraordinary interest and enormous dedication to create an Identity for a firm, brand or individual. It’s far easier to sit down and just design something we like than it is to design something that is right for you.
Easier, but ultimately less satisfying.
There are at least two ways that actors approach the craft of acting; for lack of a better description they are the ‘Schtick’ school and the ‘Method’ school of acting.
Schtick is what the Marx Brothers did for 15 movies; they created each vehicle out of their established personalities and tropes. It produced some of the funniest and most lasting movies ever made. The movies never varied, consistently making them among the funniest movies ever made.
Method is what Brando did for most (well, quite a few) of his 44 movies; he inhabited the role to a point just shy of dangerous obsessiveness. It produced some of the most memorable performances ever filmed. It took work to find each of those characters within him, and the legacy of his work changed American cinema.
Both are great ways to create, and the dichotomy probably applies to architecture as well as it does to acting.
There are times when we use well-developed ideas to solve a problem; we like changes in scale; we sometime put buildings inside of buildings; graphics are sometimes features in our work; etc.. We have developed some ideas that continue to have universal appeal.
These familiar tropes work well, at times. But more difficult problems require a most intensive approach.
We take a “Method Architecture” approach to projects in which Identity is paramount. When a client, a firm a brand or the significance of a project as their hallmark defines a project, we take the Method approach.
Whether that means riding a Harley-Davidson to the legendary Sturgis bike rally; or listening to every single song Elvis Presley ever recorded; or spending a weekend in New Orleans tracing the invention of Southern Comfort; or following the manufacturing process of Corian in detail through its factory, we become intensely involved in researching projects. The research becomes the foundation on which we create an extension of the Identity.
We throw ourselves into projects because it makes better projects.
Put it all together…
We think there is a long list of reasons to work with us on your next project.
Our clients can give you a list of reasons as well. We encourage you to contact them directly.
We look forward to meeting you to discuss your next project, or just to meet to talk. Stop by our new offices for a visit.
Biber Architects is a member of
The American Institute of Architects
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
The Architectural League
The Design Trust for Public Space
The Storefront for Art and Architecture
Open House New York