The story of Barr & Barr begins in 1906, in the sprawling American West. There, Joseph R. Barr, an ambitious 20-year-old engineer, is hard at work surveying land for the railroads. Far from his native Rochester, New York, he is honing his eye for detail and developing a talent for working big.
Becoming the consummate builder
By 1912, Joseph R. Barr is back in New York, in charge of track work for the New York Central railroad. Over the next 15 years he will master the complexities of large projects. Along the way, he hews to a simple philosophy of looking out for owners’ interests like a true partner. By 1927, he is ready to strike out on his own and founds Barr & Barr (then Barr and Lane). Owners soon discover that Joseph R. Barr is not only a consummate builder, but also a trusted adviser and a man of principle. Barr & Barr quickly establishes itself as a choice builder in a crowded field.
A meeting with Rockefeller
In 1932, Joseph R. Barr is invited to meet Nelson Rockefeller Sr., who is interviewing builders for the massive Rockefeller Center project then under way. Rockefeller sees in the self-made engineer a winning mix of quiet confidence and professional boldness—enough boldness to take on the largest privately financed construction project in the world. Barr & Barr is hired to build the Time & Life building and several other Rockefeller Center buildings, thereby establishing itself as a firm that meets the highest of expectations.
The British Building, 1932
Rockefeller Center, 1932