Alan Barlis, AIA, and Dennis Wedlick, AIA, have always been more interested in producing architecture than in crafting a trademark style for their firm. Founded in 1992 (as Dennis Wedlick Architect), BarlisWedlick Architects has mined the Western design canon, from classicism through classical modernism, to create a portfolio as notable for its variety as it is for its quality. Barlis and Wedlick’s new book, Classic & Modern: Signature Styles (ORO Editions; $50), illustrates the breadth of the partners’ range and the depth of their fluency.
Covering the past 10 years of the firm’s output, the large-format volume showcases 17 projects, each of which represents a different client’s “signature style.” In discovering, developing, and elaborating these individualized styles, the partners take on an almost psychoanalytical role.
It’s an approach that one hesitates to call postmodern (for that term’s arch connotations). Barlis and Wedlick’s work engages its source material with historical rigor as well as an unabashed romanticism. River House’s impact derives not only from its juxtaposition of modern and Greek Revival motifs, but from the heartfelt authenticity of each. And owners Cathy and Michele’s Saltbox Colonial slides from historical reproduction to abstraction to full-out improvisation.
Barlis and Wedlick are very much architects of their time. Their Hudson Valley Passive House (also included in the book) was one of the first of its type in the country. All of the firm’s recent work leverages current building science and communication technology. For all its historical affinities, this may be what truly contemporary residential architecture looks like.