Gentleman, surfer, brilliant architect, master of color — Paul Barnard was all of these, and now he’s gone, slipping away to Mexico and beyond.
Born in Bailieboro, Ontario, Canada, on Aug. 12, 1938, Paul was creative from a young age, preferring the arts to labor on the family farm in Ontario. Attracted to the energy of Toronto, Paul attended the University of Toronto where he received a Bachelor of Architecture. After working and traveling throughout Europe, Paul moved to Boston and received his Master of Architecture in urban design from Harvard University in 1967.
He married Susan Gleave in 1966 in England and settled in Toronto where their daughter Josey was born in 1968. At the ripe age (for an architect) of 30, Paul designed his parent’s cottage at Batchewana Bay, Ontario. After becoming a partner at WZMH Architects in the 1974, he oversaw the design of projects across the U.S. and Asia.
To escape the cold winters of the east coast, Paul moved from Canada to Laguna in 1980 to practice architecture in California. Here he married Susan Whitin and had his second child, Seth, in 1987. After a career working on large scale hotels and office buildings, Paul opened up his own studio in Laguna to focus on other building typologies. The Laguna Art Museum is one of his several creative renovations in town.
An avid hiker and outdoorsman, he and family frequented wild locales across the globe to camp, hike and learn. He always believed one learned more traveling than in school. Fascinated by the ancient cities of South and Central America, he travelled to and studied the urban design practices of Incan, Mayan and Aztecan cultures. Paul’s passion for color drove him to scour Europe in search of obscure natural pigments unavailable in the U.S. Using color as a design tool, he adorned his designs with these unique pigments. He had an insatiable curiosity.
While growing up on the family farm in Ontario, Paul loved to ride horses. In Laguna, he fulfilled that passion with Streetwise, his retired racing horse stabled at Irvine Coast Stables — on land that is now Crystal Cove. Around town, you could catch Paul on his way to surf San O with his buddies, in a heated conversation at Zinc cafe, or at the dog park with his trusty dogs.
After living in Laguna for almost 40 years, Paul expatriated to his house in Sayulita, Mexico, for a change of scenery and vibes. Shortly after moving to Sayulita, he fulfilled a lifelong dream to live in the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende.
On Nov. 27, 2017, Paul died peacefully in the cacti-peppered highlands of Central Mexico amongst a loving community of friends and caregivers. His creative, friendly and quirky spirit lives on through the family and friends that love him.
Paul’s memorial will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3 at the Laguna Art Museum from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.