“I think what’s considered ‘excellent design’ actually depends on the opinion of the client.”
NEIL BARR COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR neilb@ignitearchitects.com

I come from the sharp end of the property industry.

Before I joined Ignite I had my own property consultancy for 20 years. I built it up and, in the end, we were a top corporate strategic property planning business because we always looked at everyone’s problems differently. It also helped that we had a damn good understanding of property.

I think what’s considered ‘excellent design’ actually depends on the opinion of the client. If you talk to a philanthropic building owner, they’ll say the beauty of the building. On the other hand, to a developer, excellent design means a cost-effective building that delivers the best net-to-gross ratio, the best return on funds invested. These are of strategic importance to the developer.   

What’s the greatest skill an architect can have? To my mind, it’s the ability to see and translate what the client wants exactly. From the client’s perspective, we can see in our mind’s eye what we want on our site – having that understood and accurately captured by our design partner is critical. 

I really enjoy the people here at Ignite. They’re high energy, which makes it a fun business to work in. It’s also really rewarding when I can help junior staff discover what they are good at, so they can channel their energy towards developing that skill. 

I’m a kid at heart myself. I love to tease the young fellas here and make them laugh. On the other hand, I’m also pretty driven and performance oriented. I love the process of putting deals together. It’s been the same for my whole career - there is not a little town in New Zealand that I haven’t been to and done a deal.

Rugby is a second religion to me, and I’m a fanatical All Blacks supporter. I also love to travel and spend as much time as possible wandering the world with my wife. We’ve been to 65 countries so far – many of them when we spent a year touring around Europe in a camper van in 2001.