Born in Chicago, Barnes received a B.A. in the history of architecture from Harvard in 1938 and a masters of architecture in 1942 from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Influenced by his professors Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, Barnes relocated to Los Angeles to design mass-produced homes under Henry Dreyfus during the World War II. In 1947 he started his own architecture firm in New York with his wife Mary, also an architect, championing the ideals of democracy, simplicity, and site sensitivity in design. Their projects ranged from houses and camps to museums and universities. Notable architecture projects include the Walker Art Center from 1966-71 in Minneapolis; the Dallas Museum of Art in 1983-84 (in collaboration with Dan Kiley); and the IBM Headquarters at Madison Avenue in 1983 (in collaboration with Zion and Breen Associates). Barnes also collaborated with landscape architects on designs of botanical gardens in both New York and Chicago and was involved in university master planning at the State University of New York at Purchase and Yale University. He was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal in 2007.