Architect’s legacy helps K-State students build strong futures
By Hayli Morrison
Ben Barnert graduated from K-State’s College of Architecture, Planning & Design in 1977 and proceeded to work on legendary sports architecture projects like Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After succumbing to an 18-month battle with cancer in July 2013, Barnert’s legacy continues at his alma mater with gifts from family, former coworkers and friends.
The Ben Barnert Memorial Scholarship will support architecture students at the university Barnert loved. Darla Barnert, Ben’s wife and high school sweetheart, looks forward to watching the professional journeys of the scholarship recipients.
“Ben would be so proud,” she said. “His thought was always, don’t be afraid to dream and step out there.”
One of Ben Barnert’s more memorable achievements while at K-State was his involvement with a committee to build a new house for Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. The house now stands near the eastern edge of campus and contains a conference room named after Ben.
“That’s really where he felt like he learned leadership and how to bring people together from all walks of life to work together for a common goal,” Darla Barnert said.
After college, during his three-decade career with Populous global design firm, he was promoted to senior partner and principal while leading more than 20 high-profile sports facility projects. Along the way, he developed a reputation as a terrific mentor and leader with strong problem-solving skills, fun-loving yet driven and dedicated to his work.
“Beyond his skills as an architect, he was simply one of the best people I have ever known,” said Rick Martin, retired senior principal of Populous. “He was caring of others, respectful, giving of his time, funny and compassionate. He was a great friend, and he is missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to have Ben in our lives.”