Always by Design - Praise

PRAISE about AxD

While great work does speak for itself, there is only so much that a stone will reveal. During the course of our work we are engaged with a myriad of people – owners, contractors, engineers and countless others in the pursuit of a successfully realized project. Here are a few things that people who have worked closely with us have said:

My husband and I engaged Ed Barnhart of Always by Design a year ago to draft plans for a whole house renovation. We purchased a modest colonial in Moorestown, NJ; which after living in its many small rooms for two years decided we needed more space and a more functional, modern layout of the first floor. Ed worked with us for months to give us exactly what we wanted, needed and could afford. His process is amazing and we always felt heard and understood. I cannot stress enough how much this meant to us. We came to rely upon Ed’s honed process of listening, assessing, prioritizing and consolidating (over and over and over). He is nothing if not gracious and patient. His attention to detail is also above reproach. His final rendering was better than anything we could have imagined. His design was fresh, ingenious and forward thinking. The construction documents were meticulous; every builder that reviewed them commented on Ed’s thoroughness and professionalism. And beyond the documents, Ed has supported a holistic approach to our property renovation by meeting and working together with other professionals that we are engaged with. We cannot say enough good things about Ed’s work and character.

B.G. – Client/Homeowner

We bought land on a small private lake in Maine. The building site was quite challenging because it is on an extreme slope. Having previously worked with him on three other projects (two complete homes and one major addition), we knew we needed Ed for this one.
We found an old hand-cut granite foundation that was quarried over 100 years ago within 20 miles of our site. Ed said, “I’ll work it into the design.” To clear the build site we had to cut down a dozen or so majestic hemlocks. Ed did the research on how to store them and said, “Save them, I’ll work them into the design.”
The result is a summer home that is so much a part of the landscape, it looks like it grew here. The design is unique and spectacular — while meeting our functional needs and aesthetic preferences.
Ed has stuck with us and our projects through construction and beyond. What continues to amaze us is how every builder we have used has begun the relationship with Ed with the same healthy skepticism that builders typically reserve for architects. But they quickly learn that in addition to his artistic sense, Ed also has a real knowledge of construction and a practical outlook. In the end, he has earned the trust and respect of every one of them.

N.VW. – Client/Homeowner

AxD not only understands the owner’s needs in order to develop the proper program, but they bring knowledge of how to work with the existing conditions.

R.D. – Construction Manager

Here’ s the secret about Ed: he worked as a carpenter when he was in school. Why is this important? Because he understands that his designs actually need to get BUILT! He has a terrific awareness of the feasibility of building what he envisions- and he works well with the construction crew to get problems solved.

M.F.S. – Client/Non-profit CFO

I have worked with many architects and I can say Ed Barnhart is clearly one of the best. His perspective for design and space is spot on. His focus on attention and detail makes him an outstanding architect. Friendly and professional.

M.A.W. – Custom Home Builder

I credit our architects… for listening carefully to our needs, helping us to plan for a better cultural institution, and delivering again and again to bring a complicated plan to fruition.

M.L.L. – Owner’s Representative for Cultural Non-profit

I have worked with Ed Barnhart on 2 recent projects and appreciate his knowledge, experience, efficiency and suggestions when it comes to design.
He was hired as the Architect-of-record for multiple storefront interior alterations and helped prepare for permits as well as execute the final product so we were able to get approval from the city and open in a timely manner.


I was one of AxD’s first clients and continue to go back. AxD did a substantial design-build of my gatehouse at the shore. It’s absolutely beautiful and unique. Very professional, responsive, and high-quality work from design process to actual build/installation. I’d highly recommend their work.

M.R.– Client/Homeowner

I first worked with Ed when he was chosen to renovate my workplace. That was such a good experience that I asked him to design my new home.
One of the many things I liked about working with him is that he was available to answer my questions from the beginning to the end of each project— unlike firms where you wind up working with junior staff after the initial meetings. Ed was also very perceptive, and quickly understood what made me tick. This led to insightful discussions about how I wanted to use the spaces, and also what would be important to me visually. With him, communicating thoughts and ideas that translated into design became so simple.
My recent project demanded much use of Ed’s thoughtful listening skills and his ability to gracefully problem-solve. The result? Every time I enter my new home, I first breathe a sigh of relief –“I’m Home!”— and then happily go from room to room taking in all of the beauty. I do this every time…over a year after my home was completed.

A.D. – “User”/Patron

I am writing in regard to my experience in working with Edward Barnhart in his capacity as project architect… with Venturi Scott Brown Associates for the Barnes Foundation gallery [a major] preservation project. As gallery director, I was the Foundation’s project liaison overseeing the $14,000,000 preservation project of the 1925 gallery. Without exception, I can say the Mr. Barnhart is a highly effective, detail-orientated architect, whose calm demeanor kept a difficult project on track with excellent results.

As with all projects, we had a tight budget and schedule, but unlike many projects, we also had a major requirement of aesthetic perfection because of the gallery environment. Mr. Barnhart led the project in a professional manner and kept the disparate team of contractors and design consultants working towards a common goal. His attention to detail is a strength that yields magnificent results in the completed project. Details are not left up to a contractor whose only concern is cutting expense at the cost of quality. However, when the issue of value engineering comes up, he is able to respond in a realistic manner that does not sacrifice the overall intention of the project.

I would recommend Mr. Barnhart for any architectural project. He has extensive experience in historic preservation, museum design, institutional, and residential projects. He is a pleasure to work with and I think he would be an outstanding designer for any project. I give him my highest recommendation.

R.L.M. — Owner’s Representative for Cultural Non-profit