Ninety Years of Construction Expertise

Barr & Barr
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Barr & Barr has forged a reputation over the past ninety years for the outstanding quality of its work as well as its integrity, passion and professionalism. Barr & Barr’s legacy as one of the nation’s preeminent construction managers gives it the expertise to successfully manage varying types of commercial, healthcare, academic, research and cultural/historical restoration projects.
Barr & Barr was established as a construction company back in 1927 by Joseph R. Barr, a talented and skilled builder with an eye for quality. Word soon spread of Barr’s professionalism and principles, and by 1932, the company was retained by legendary business mogul Nelson Rockefeller Sr. to construct buildings that would become world-famous New York landmark The Rockefeller Center. From then on, Barr’s reputation and that of the company was established and has earned the company the accolades of countless clients over the decades. The company bearing his name has continued to uphold Barr’s values.

“We run almost the entire gamut,” says Glenn Kiefer, senior executive vice president who has been with Barr & Barr for the past thirty-one years. The reason, he says, has much to do with Barr & Barr’s outstanding 85 percent repeat work. “Our spectrum of projects ranges from $250,000 to those upwards of $200 million.”

Being successful in business for ninety years has taught staff at Barr & Barr a great deal about creating well-managed projects. Thanks to decades of experience completing projects of all sizes and types, the company consistently achieves better than 95 percent accuracy with its early cost estimates which saves our clients both money and time.

“We are very accurate,” states Kiefer. “We believe the key to a successful project is our preconstruction phase. Preconstruction requires a high degree of estimating acumen; it requires an understanding of the logistics surrounding the project and scheduling. So it is our belief that if we do our homework upfront during preconstruction, then construction is merely executing the plan. So we are very detailed, and we put a very high priority on preconstruction.”

Barr & Barr has built its reputation on client satisfaction with a complete commitment to minimizing risk. The company builds projects with a constant focus on how money is being spent. “We understand the trust our clients put in us.”

The company completes projects for prestigious clients such as Princeton University, Yale University, Bayer, MetLife and the Burlington Coat Factory and is committed to all customers with its experience in construction management, building information modeling (BIM), LEED and sustainable building practices.

Barr & Barr’s projects take it as far northeast as Maine and other contiguous states down to Florida where it provides numerous construction services rooted in decades of practical experience. When working with a client during the initial design stages, preconstruction services are crucial for the project’s success. With areas such as costs, scheduling and materials discussed in detail in advance, along with logistics, value engineering analysis, preconstruction mock-up and exploratory services, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), LEED support, and others.

With the knowledge gained from thorough preconstruction research and preparation, Barr & Barr works with clients on construction services, including master scheduling, procurement, cost and quality control, safety, drawing review, financial status reports and other crucial areas. And with the strength of BIM, three-dimensional models are created, assessed for constructability and essential services such as MEP. This can significantly accelerate the building process by weeks or even months.

To ensure success, Barr & Barr does not simply select available project managers, but chooses those best suited and experienced for the specific nature of the work, whether that be a commercial building, historic renovation, academic institution, healthcare facility or another type of project. “When we meet a client who has a prospective project, we bring a team that management hand-picks, and part of the criteria is their singular expertise,” comments Kiefer. “If we do a laboratory project, the project manager and the project superintendent will have laboratory experience. So the team would go on to another project that is quite similar. We match the talent that we have on our staff to the project’s needs.”

Barr & Barr regularly builds projects for clients such as the prestigious Princeton University in New Jersey. Barr & Barr has built many of the university’s iconic projects including one of the first molecular biology laboratories in the United States. Since science-based construction tends to run in ten-year cycles, the company built the university’s institute to study the genome – the Icahn Laboratory – and was behind the Peretsman-Scully Hall and Princeton Neuroscience Institute, a two-building complex completed in December of 2013.

This project included state-of-the-art research facilities, instructional space, meeting rooms and faculty offices, as well as sustainability features such as energy-efficient HVAC systems and controls, low-flow plumbing fixtures and stormwater management. “The Princeton Neuroscience Institute project was completed ten years after Icahn Laboratory, so it will be interesting to see what we build for Princeton a decade from now,” says Kiefer.

The company is active in numerous areas and has been experiencing growth in the corporate headquarters market, such as the Burlington Coat Factory headquarters it constructed in Florence Township, New Jersey; the U.S. corporate headquarters for Bayer Healthcare in Hanover Township, New Jersey; and the investment headquarters and 425-car parking garage for MetLife in Hanover Township, New Jersey.

“There has been quite a bit of activity lately in the corporate sector,” says Kiefer, referring to a new project currently under construction. At 200,000 square feet, the new headquarters for insurance giant Crumb & Forster in Morristown, New Jersey includes team members Kiefer as principal in charge, Rick Lepre as project manager, John Duncan as MEP project manager and Paul Koteras as superintendent.

The project is scheduled for completion this year and is a “complete gut and ‘re-skin’ of their existing four-story building, transforming the structure into a modern ‘Class A’ headquarters,” according to the company. Along with totally redesigning interior lobbies, the entrance, and amenity areas, Barr & Barr is also responsible for a new, five-hundred-car parking area nearby.

The Bayer Healthcare project serves as an example of working towards a sustainable future. The Bayer building was built in two phases; the first joined two existing office buildings with a magnificent, five-story glass atrium. Both Class A office buildings were renovated; one was transformed into a fitness center, while the other saw a two-story vertical addition. Both the buildings and the site – on a former 94-acre site of Lucent Technologies and Bell Research Laboratories – achieved prestigious LEED Gold certification, largely the result of the materials used, the re-use of the existing buildings and new and improved mechanical systems.

Barr & Barr spans across the New England, Mid Atlantic and Southeast regions with its headquarters in New York City. It opened its Florida office approximately two years ago after seeing potential for a growth market in the Sunshine State. The company also had earlier relationships with businesses relocating from northern states to the southern U.S.

Being recognized by Engineering News as one of America’s top construction managers, and after ninety years in the industry, the company still prides itself on the quality of its work, and valuing its clients and employees alike.

“I think we treat our people fairly, just as we treat our clients and our subcontractors,” says Kiefer. “We treat them as adults; we put trust in them, and we get that same trust back. Our tagline is ‘Building with Integrity,’ and that philosophy is really ingrained in all aspects of leadership of this company and our history. Employees are also attracted to the integrity issue; they liked doing what they do and elect to be unencumbered, let loose and have management support them. It’s a great place to work.”

It is in its third generation of the Barr family ownership providing all customers with the highest possible degree of service. “The proof is in the pudding of our corporate philosophy, and our expertise is such that our repeat work is phenomenal,” comments Kiefer.” We have a blue-ribbon client list, and eighty-five percent of our volume is repeat work. So the reason we are not plastered all over the newspapers is word-of-mouth. Our customers are our best salesmen, I think that’s what’s unique about Barr & Barr.”



Storm in a Teacup

Read Our Current Issue


Food for Thought

June 2024

A Living Underwater Laboratory

May 2024

Achieving Equity Through Sustainability

April 2024

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles