Realizing a Vision

Barnes Design Group

At the heart of every successful business, there must be an ideal – a vision that takes the business from merely a functional entity to one that drives the vision forward. Always looking to improve, refusing to rest on past accomplishments and steadfastly aiming for perfection will help spell success.

At their core, the most successful businesses are the ones that have an innate passion for their craft, a desire to create worthwhile and meaningful products that will stand as a testament to their work ethic and talent. For Barnes Design Group, the goal is simple: creating a functional yet aesthetically impressive building that both meets the needs of its clients and gives a flavour of the passion and craftsmanship at its disposal is paramount to the work the company does.

Barnes Design Group meets its clients’ hopes and expectations by providing excellence in architectural and design services and by providing quality liturgical master planning services. To achieve this, Barnes Design Group has formed a group of creative innovative architects with a strong sense of mission, bound together in unity and integrity. The Group uses its breadth of experience to meet the needs of clients by assessing these needs and providing a space of worship that goes beyond a mere building.

In its many years of existence, Barnes Design Group has steadfastly held on to the belief that the client should always receive the best possible value. The Group has grown over time to ensure that clients have a full spectrum of services available to them, all the while liaising directly with Barnes Design.

Michael Barnes, owner of Barnes Design Group, explains how the model came about: “In 1979, I came out of graduate school and in 1980 I started my own company,” he shares. “We did Government work, primarily for the Navy; we did restaurants, hotels, and residential [projects] as well as churches, retail and industrial. So we have been in business now for around 34 years now and approximately ten years ago we got involved in the construction industry.

“We had always partnered work, meaning we really did not believe in competitively bidding to twenty different contractors and beating them up and trying to achieve low bids. We really believed in negotiating, so for years we negotiated with a select few contractors in the area and ultimately began building projects on our own so basically now we are multi-faceted, both as a design company, which is a group of professional architects as well as a construction company.”

Expanding its expertise

This move into the construction field has enabled Barnes Design & Construction Group to work from design to completion with its clients, providing greater value and also maintaining a bond of trust. This expansion of the company’s model led to the challenge of getting the best staff in order to meet these growing needs. “My son and I started the company, Barnes Property and Development, where we basically did residential work,” explains Mr. Barnes. “He had a strong background in construction and I had quite a bit of background in construction even though I was a professional architect. What we had to do was bring in subs that we had been working with for years as well as some superintendents, one of which I had on projects for twenty years so he came over to work for us.”

While in its infancy, Barnes Design Group took on “any work that came through the door.” Now, the area in which the company really excels is that of church design. The reason for this is simple; the company had the desire and expertise in-house to do a better job in this area than its competition, and a passion to serve God through the church. “Ultimately, the work that came in divided itself into various categories: retail, industrial, offices, churches, restaurants, education and Government work. I have found that the more we did – and we still do a wide variety of work –we still excel in church design and have completed almost 500 churches. What I find is that when somebody is building a small shopping centre or an office building, because that is not really a specialty, they will hire an architect or contractor that is local. When we find a church… they are looking for somebody that really understands churches. That is where they find us.”

Alongside the company’s experience in building churches, Barnes Design Group also offers an exceptionally forward-thinking service at the design stage itself. The company uses in-house 3D computer modelling, an unrivalled service which gives the client the opportunity to see the completed design before it has even begun. “We really specialise in fly-overs, aerial animation and production of vignettes and movies which are put to music, no different to what a production company might utilise for TV,” explains Mr. Barnes. “So we have a production piece which is anywhere between three and seven minutes long that walks them around the building, flies them over the building – it might even take them inside the building.”

The perfect design

This dedication to providing excellence stems from a personal belief – that churches should be inspiring as well as practical. “As a Christian growing up in the Mid-West, I was always involved in church,” Mr. Barnes shares. “As I became an architect, I was interested in church architecture; I was interested in Michelangelo, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and many of the great churches of the past. As I started to put it into practice, it was interesting as I looked around at some church design that the design itself was the product of the vision that the architect had and perhaps not the vision that the pastors had, so I really had an empathy with the church.”

It is important to remember, however, that artistry and looks are not the exclusive considerations when designing and building a successful church; planning ahead for the growing needs of the congregation is crucial. “A problem with many churches in the past is what I call ‘master planning,’” says Mr. Barnes. “A lot of times the building is built and it’s done – but the church is a unique organisation. A growing church might well buy 45 acres but it may only want to build a 500 seat [structure] with a vision to ultimately build for 4000 seats. What happens is the architect is put into a position of having to not only design for the church now, but make certain that whatever is built now works with what is built later.” This is what master planning is all about.

The future of Barnes Design

In terms of looking to the future, Mr. Barnes sees opportunity in employing a multi-faceted business model as the starting point for the company to expand its geographical footprint. “What has really been on my heart for a while – and there has been a downturn in the economy so we really haven’t seen this fleshed out – but I really believe in what I call ‘single-source commitment.’ Why partner with Barnes Design? We count the costs, we coordinate between design and construction, we don’t have budget overruns. What I would like to see is that we expand down the east coast and ultimately expand westward.”

With the company’s strong value system, level of belief, its drive and ultimately, its goal to provide quality, value and a completed vision to its clients, it will surely be only a matter of time before Barnes Design Group leads the field in the area of church design and build.

For more information about Barnes Design Group, please visit

June 20, 2021, 8:50 AM EDT