B A R Architects Reviews | Glassdoor

B A R Architects Reviews

Updated July 17, 2017
14 reviews

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3.9
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Chris Haegglund, AIA, LEED AP
9 Ratings

14 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Office culture and people!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I worked at BAR for 4 years starting right after college, and could not have been happier with my experience there. The firm has an incredible outlook on work/life balance, wonderful benefits, an amazing office culture and even more amazing people. Your truly become a family.
    I worked on everything from entitlements phase to construction administration, and was able to become project manager of a building under construction.
    I became licensed while working here, and BAR has been nothing but supportive of this endeavor; office study material, and reimbursement of tests (up to $1000), we even formed an study group for the CSE.
    There was always fun stuff going on such as 'lunch-n-learns', 'wine about design', happy hours, birthday celebrations, summer picnics, holiday parties, breakfast club, the list goes on!
    One of the best things about working at BAR is the alternate Friday off, you work 9 hour days and an 8 hour day every other Friday! An every other 3 day weekend is incredible!

    Cons

    All of the projects that I worked on were not overly simulating from a design perspective. There is the 'kit of parts' that tends to be hard to breakaway from.
    There should be more opportunity for everyone to take part in the design, not just the select 'designers'. There needs to be more listening and respectfulness of all people in the office. Top-heavy and hierarchical atmosphere.

    Advice to Management

    Give more opportunity for everyone to take part in the design, not just the select 'designers'. Learn to listen and respect all people in the office and be aware of the top-heavy/hierarchical atmosphere.


  2. "Former Employee Review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Project Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Project Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    BAR has created a great culture that instills collaboration, mentorship and overall great architecture. While at BAR I was able to work with a lot of talented architects and was fortunate to be able to work on a multitude of project types. The every other Friday was a great benefit for work and life balance.

    Cons

    Provide more outside training opportunities.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the office culture intact.

  3. "Great place for a long career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Project Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at B A R Architects full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    I've worked here for many years and enjoyed the social atmosphere when I was younger and appreciate the family-friendly attitude now that I am older. If you want to work on different project types or roles, you have that opportunity here if you ask for it.
    There are many ways to get involved in firm-wide initiatives beyond your project duties.

    We are focused on becoming "design-first". Design dialogue is encouraged within teams and more formally with small design charettes or firm-wide presentations. There is an effort to do more modern design and the design quality has improved in recent years.

    My colleagues are talented and fun to work with. Plus, it is a dog-friendly office!

    Cons

    It is top-heavy, but that means that they will recognize and promote you based on your merits and contribution rather than limit the leadership to a set number.

    The number of groups and committees can be overwhelming, but it gives you the opportunity to have input in certain aspects of the firm.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to focus on PM training. Make a better effort to give women more design influence.


  4. "Overall a good place to work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    How much effort you make in socializing with your colleagues and contributing to the office will reflect on the quality of your experience here. Variety of project types.

    Cons

    Too many committees. People get distracted with minor details and meeting minutes to avoid the more important goals at hand.

    Advice to Management

    Make the 3-5 year plan more concise.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "So-so."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Admin in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Admin in San Francisco, CA
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Every other Friday off, good salaries, nice people.

    Cons

    Admin staff was very clique and very gossipy. Confidential employee info was shared amongst friends.


  6. "The BEST Architecture Firm I've ever worked for. (And I've worked at quite a few)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Project Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    BAR is an excellent architecture firm to work for. It's the friendliest and most knowledgeable and professional group of individuals I've ever worked with. The staff is as much a team as they are a family. The general feel of the office is that of professionalism, enjoyment, caring, and compassion. Along with the obvious expectation of great design, exemplary client relations, and profitability, the management makes it obvious that their team of architects, designers, and support staff are all valued equally for their contributions, and are treated with a level of dignity and respect that is unmatched in other offices I've worked at. The managing principals know that the team is comprised of actual people, and therefore professional and personal growth are top priorities within the office.

    The principals make a point to speak with everyone they come in contact with, and welcome conversation throughout the day. They encourage both constructive criticism and helpful ideas from all the members of the staff, from the senior associates to the receptionist, and everyone in between. Besides the obvious contributions to the development of the projects, there are numerous venues and methods to contribute to the success of the firm and voice opinions about design, sustainability, professional development, and just about everything else.

    In terms of compensation, they make an effort to keep up with the industry average within San Francisco, which in reality is higher than the national average due to the extremely high cost of living. Along with good compensation, their benefits are amazing. The health and dental coverage is the best I've received at any architecture firm to date.

    There is a variety of experience levels amongst the staff, from seasoned veterans with an amazing amount of knowledge of the design and construction profession, to the new college graduates who have fresh viewpoints and ideas. I appreciated the variety of ages within the workplace, along with an even gender balance amongst the staff and the management. As you'd expect in the city of San Francisco, there's a wide representation of nationalities and backgrounds throughout the office.

    As in ANY firm, if you keep your head down, don't socialize with others, and don't participate in additional committees or efforts beyond that of the immediate project, then don't expect to make associate anytime soon. You'll get your paycheck, but if you want more than that then you need to show it. For those who are willing to show that they have the interest and ability to make a positive impact on the firm, then the management will take notice, and those individuals are rewarded with raises and promotions. I can attest to it firsthand.

    As the headline of this review states, this is the BEST firm I've ever worked at. Lets face it, during the past 10 years, many in the architecture field have moved around a lot, due to the golden years or the recession, work was either easy or hard to come by. As a result, I've had the benefit of working at numerous firms of different shapes and sizes, with various management structures and a variety of market segments and specialties. Out of all of them, I would put BAR Architects at the top of my list. It's not just because of benefits, pay, and perks, although they do an excellent job in those areas... but rather it's because of the people I worked with. Had my spouse and I not needed to relocate from San Francisco, I would have continued working at BAR... and I'd work there again if I have the opportunity.

    Being that BAR is a dog-friendly office, I know that my dogs will really miss visiting there. :-)
    I''ll REALLY MISS the alternate work week. Having every other Friday off, and a schedule that allows for numerous 3 and 4 day weekends throughout the year is amazing.

    Cons

    There aren't many if any Cons, to be honest. Maybe it's because I had such a great experience, but I can't think of one. If you wanted to work at a small firm, then this is not the firm for you. If you wanted to work at a giant firm and be an anonymous drone, then apply at Gensler, Perkins & Will, HOK, or a similar firm. If you're looking to work at a firm that only cares about iconic architecture, or getting projects published in magazines, and are willing to work in a sweat shop environment for low pay and awful benefits then this might not be the office for you. If you want to click a mouse at a famous boutique firm and work alongside a trust-fund intern who can afford to work for little to no compensation, then this is NOT the firm for you, instead you'll have better luck in Los Angeles. BAR cares too much about the profession to participate in those unprofessional employment/internship practices. Although the firm has had a reputation of having a traditional aesthetic, they are much more diverse and dynamic than that. With each new project, they are looking to expand their design portfolio and project aesthetic.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the great work, and the amazing office atmosphere for your team. Your professionalism and enthusiasm is second to none. Your care and compassion for your employees is exemplary.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Marketing Coordinator: great company culture and inspiring coworkers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Marketing Coordinator in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Marketing Coordinator in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - BAR supports an actual life/work balance and gives employees every other Friday off!
    - The principals and other employees are smart and friendly
    - 50 years of being in the Bay Area means that BAR draws interesting projects and exciting clients
    - Benefits package was way better than average in the Architecture field

    Cons

    - There is a strong top-down approach to management and it is hard to move up quickly from the junior level
    - Investing heavily in new architecture technologies like BIM, but slow to adopt newer internal technologies, work flow practices and even internet browsers that would have made employee life a lot easier

    Advice to Management

    - Give junior designers, coordinators and assistants more responsibility and room to fail. They will probably end up flying high but they never will get to shine without a chance.

  8. Helpful (5)

    "Junior Designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Junior Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Junior Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    They compensate you if you work overtime with OT pay, with that said, they actually do not encourage you to work overtime at all. The work and life balance is great and most suitable for someone who has a stable family. You work 9 hour days but you get every other Fridays off.

    Cons

    This firm is top heavy; with 10 (old school thinking) principals on top and alot of minions below. This means a various of things:
    1. You will probably not get a creative work until you've put in the time 5+ years.
    2. The direction of the firm is fuzzy, no clear vision of what they want to be in a decades time.
    3. A high retention rate of mid-level associates (10+ years) that's fighting their way to the top. However, bleak hope for promotion with so many up at top.
    4. A very mediocre firm with very mediocre designs.
    5. Old school design thinking with zero innovation, new graduates will find them not receptive of new design techniques or skills.
    6. it's a 'put-your-head-down-and-work' kind of a firm, most of their work needs are red lines.

    Advice to Management

    BAR needs to lose a few (maybe 7) principals, narrow their management team, and build their junior staff. Distribute creative work down the food chain and seriously re-hash their creative identity.


  9. "Good place to start if you're interested in multi-family housing"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at B A R Architects full-time

    Pros

    Friendly and encouraging, rare in firms of similar size.

    Cons

    Not very diverse in design methods


  10. "A well run place that strives to consolidate its identity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at B A R Architects full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    I have been with the firm for more than 10 years and compared to previous firms I have worked at in the bay area, this place is very well managed. It is a place that has a diverse portfolio and rewards a proactive personality, thus employees with varied interests will likely find a good match. The firm also accommodates people with kids as well as Interns who depended on a flexible work schedule.

    The firm acknowledges the importance of staying nimble by transitioning into more current platforms. It is actively exploring a smooth workflow based on the interaction of different platforms: Revitt, Rhino, Lumions, Sketchup etc...

    The firm embraces sustainability and is on board with the 2030 goal of reducing cabon footprint, a plus in my book

    Cons

    the firm is top heavy at the Associates level by design. it acknowledges that talents comes from all levels and rewarded accordingly. This works well to create incentive to perform however the undesired outcome is that it creates a bottle neck effect at the mid-level.

    Advice to Management

    find a clear mechanism to avoid the bottle neck effect


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