3 min read
22 Dec 2022

Stephen George + Partners (SGP) announces retirement of Senior Partner Michael Barker

By James Nicholls

Michael Barker, Senior Partner at SGP, will be retiring from the practice at the end of December 2022 after 43 years of service at the practice.

Michael joined SGP in 1979 as a year out student to complete his professional qualifications. Michael at first worked in a small group on the refurbishment and conversion of Victorian housing in Leicester.  He worked with the practice founder Stephen George, who believed that good architecture could have a positive impact on society and individuals’ lives.

Michael comments: “The values I experienced then were not written down, but fairness, service and integrity were certainly part of the ethos and that continues today in SGP’s core values.

During his time at SGP Michael has seen many notable developments, from the design and construction of SGP’s first logistics building (a field in which they are now industry leaders), the creation of the first big blue ‘shed’, the evolution of standardised warehouse models and building one of the first million square foot logistics facilities, to the development of SGP’s skills in masterplanning and supporting early research into sustainable building solutions. He worked on the first commercial projects for developer Wilson Bowden way back in 1987, and the fact that their relationship survives to this day is testament to the values of service and quality SGP continue to provide for their clients.

Michael continues: “I have always been interested in the business of architecture, not just the design of buildings, and that made me something of a rarity. In the 1980s I took an evening class to learn BASIC programming and introduced the first computer to SGP to streamline the production of estimates and schedules and I’m still fascinated by the applications of IT and its impact on design and the efficient production of information.”

Michael steered the practice through tough times during the Great Recession from 2009 and was instrumental in transforming the practice into an LLP in 2010, opening new offices in Longbridge and London in addition to the existing studios in Leicester, Leeds and Solihull.

He has been an active member of the AFMG (Architects Financial Management Group) at a national level and more recently of the Built Environment Leaders Group. He recently started SGP’s Futures Group who investigate the challenges and changes that may transform the industry over the next decade and more.

James Nicholls, Managing Partner at SGP, said: “Michael has championed SGP’s values for many years, taking the ethos he saw working with Stephen George and encouraging the practice over many decades, combining sound business practice with client focused architectural design. Michael won’t be leaving us entirely, as he will be providing advice and guidance in his new consultancy role, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his ambition, fortitude, support, and mentoring that have helped make SGP into the flourishing AJ100 practice it is today.”

Michael concludes: “Those founding values that Stephen George brought to us have continued for over 50 years now and I feel genuinely proud of our achievements over the 32 years I have been a partner here. I look forward to seeing the next generation taking the business forward and overcome the exciting and significant changes that will face us in the future.”

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