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Raj Barr Kumar

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Nationality  American
Occupation  Architect

Name  Raj Barr-Kumar
Alma mater  University of Ceylon
Raj Barr-Kumar
Awards  Sri Lanka Foundation: 2008- Exceptional Achievement for Sustainable Design and Green Architecture 2014- Lifetime Achievement Award
Practice  BARR Group International, LLC
Projects  2002-2006 additions and modifications to the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and United States Courthouse
Books  Sustainable Design Strategies, Green Architecture: Strategies for Sustainable Design

Raj Barr-Kumar (born February 5, 1946, Colombo, Ceylon), FAIA, RIBA, also known as Raj Barr, is a prominent American architect, author and 1997 national president of the American Institute of Architects.


Personal life and education

Raj Barr was born in Colombo, British Ceylon to Alexander Hamilton Barr-Kumarakulasinghe and Francesca Thanga-Ranee Winslow. The Barr-Kumarakulasinghe family of Jaffna has a history as a family of distinguished professionals, and has long been recognized as "direct descendants of the ancient kings of Jaffna." Raj was educated at the Royal Preparatory School and the Royal College, Colombo where he served as prefect.

Raj earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and RIBA Part I from the University of Ceylon in 1971. He earned RIBA Part II and a Graduate Diploma in Architecture and Development Planning from the Bartlett School of Architecture at the University of London in 1974. Awarded the Ewart Memorial Scholarship for his performance at the University of London, he earned a Master of and Architecture in Urban Design summa cum laude from the University of Kansas in 1975. He earned a Doctorate of Architecture in Sustainable Design summa cum laude from the University of Hawaii in 2003.


Raj began his architectural career in Ceylon working with the firm Panditaratna & Adithya on the Kalutara Bodhiya Temple prior to attending architecture school. He also worked with Geoffrey Bawa RIBA on the Triton Hotel, Valentine Gunasekara RIBA on the Tangalle Bay Hotel and the Catholic Chapel at Tewatte, and Justin Samarasekera RIBA on various projects throughout the county from 1966-71.

After graduating from the University of Ceylon in 1971 Raj moved to Hong Kong and worked with Jon Prescott RIBA on plans for Macau New Town and renovations to the historic Teatro Dom Pedro V. Raj worked for the N-E Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board on York District General Hospital in the UK in 1972. He joined Llewelyn-Davies Associates in 1973 with whom worked on The Military Hospital in Baghdad, the Doha Hotel in Qatar, and the Manama Conference Center in Bahrein.

Moving to Kansas City in 1974, Raj worked on the Hyatt Regency Hotel with Patty Berkebile Nelson Associates, The Menninger Foundation sanatorium in Topeka with Kiene & Bradley Associates, and on Rogers New Town in Arkansas with Seligson Associates.

As Senior Designer at Barrett Daffin and Carlin in Tallahassee, Florida, he designed the Suwannee River Water Management District HQ Building in 1979.

In 1981 Raj founded Barr-Kumar Architects Engineers PC and BARR Group International, LLC, commercial and residential architecture and engineering firms based in Washington, D.C.


Raj's career as an educator began at the University of Kansas in 1975 where he served as an Assistant Professor until 1979. He then served as Director and Tenured Associate Professor of the Florida Architecture Center in Washington, D.C. from 1979-84.

Raj served as an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Howard University from 1986–94, and was named Emens Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ball State University in 1998. He joined the faculty at The Catholic University of America in 2003 and introduced the first course in sustainability. Raj served as Professor of Practice in the School of Architecture & Planning from 2007-12.

Advocate & volunteer

Throughout his career as both a practitioner and an educator Raj has attempted to publicly champion the principles of sustainable design as well as innovative approaches to addressing social problems including homelessness.

In 1996, Raj was nationally elected to serve as the 1997 President of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and became the first person of color to lead the organization in its 140-year history.

During his tenure, Raj pioneered the annual AIA Legacy Project at the organization's national convention in New Orleans. He called for every AIA National Convention to leave improvements to the built environment of the host city. The first Legacy Project, an $11.5 million, 117,000 sf facility for New Orleans's homeless was called, "A model of cooperation and achievement." The project has been replicated in every host city since 1997, improving schools, community centers, housing, and hospitals.


Raj Barr-Kumar Wikipedia