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West Texas Retreat

Rivers Barden Architects designs meaningful spaces grounded in place and experience

Company Core Values

Listening. Taking the time to listen to and understand our clients and colleagues.

Collaboration. Believing that the strength of a team is greater than that of the individual.

Transparency. Communicating with openness for clarity of process.

Quality. Affirming that all designs are beautiful, healthy, and functional to the individual needs of each client.

Passion. Giving our all to each project to ensure the best outcome and design is achieved.

Joe Rivers, AIA, LEED AP bd+c

Joe approaches architecture and design from the bottom up.  With the details and constructability in mind, he is an expert negotiator between the larger vision of each project and how it gets made.  Beginning as a laborer for a general contractor, Joe made his way up to carpenter before returning to school and finishing his architectural studies.

Joe holds a Master of Architecture from North Carolina State in Raleigh, NC; a Master of Construction Management from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC; and a Bachelor of Environmental Design from Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. He apprenticed at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture for a year, and studied at the Prague Institute for a semester.  He is a licensed architect in the state of Texas.

Joe and his wonderful wife bought and renovated the house he grew up in, where they now live with their son and two dogs. He enjoys cooking and canoeing in his spare time.

Photo: Fil Nenna

Kevin Barden, AIA

Kevin approaches architecture and design from the top down.  With the larger vision and ethos in mind, he constantly pursues the evolution of each project’s identity throughout its development.  Following a lifelong passion for architecture, Kevin has shared his love of architecture through teaching engagements at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, the Art Academy University in San Francisco, Prairie View A&M University, and the University of Houston.

Kevin received a Master of Architecture from the Chur Institute of Architecture in association with the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau, Germany and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture with a Minor in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. Prior to completing his undergraduate studies, he was an apprentice at Taliesin, The Frank Lloyd School of Architecture in Scottsdale, Arizona and Spring Green, Wisconsin. He is a licensed architect in the states of California, Texas, and South Carolina.

Kevin and his wife enjoy traveling near and far as well as playing with their young son around the house and at the park.

Photo: Fil Nenna

Rafia Imran, Assoc. AIA

Growing up in southern Washington state, Rafia’s love of nature runs deep with childhood memories along the northwest Pacific coast. Before earning a Master of Architecture from the University of Houston, she completed a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at Portland State University in Portland, OR.

Outside of architecture Rafia enjoys baking for family and friends as well as traveling to locations near and far with her husband.

Photo: Fil Nenna

Esmer Leija, AIAS

While currently pursuing her Bachelor of Architecture degree at the University of Houston, Esmer is a vital team member covering all aspects of project delivery. Previously, Esmer earned an Associates of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College in McAllen, TX.

Esmer is an avid baker (in particular, choco-flan with a light caramel drizzle) and continuously adorns the office with surprise donut visits from Christy’s.

Photo: Fil Nenna


June, 2022

2022 Architizer A+ Awards

Unbuilt Sports and Recreation: Special Mention

The Tree Farm

October, 2018

2018 Design Communication Association Biennial Juried Exhibition

Martha Van Rensselaer Gallery, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2018 Design Communication Conference

March, 2017

ArkxSite – Site Dwelling Competition

Honorable Mention

Site Dwelling Winners

December, 2016

ArchDaily – 2016 Architecture Holiday Card Challenge


Holiday Card Best Submissions

Community + Nonprofit Organizations

Rivers Barden Architects works with and supports the following community and nonprofit organizations:

American Institute of Architects (AIA)
US Green Building Council (USGBC)
Kinetic Ensemble
Taliesin Fellows
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

1% Giving

Each year Rivers Barden Architects donates 1% of our revenue to non-profit organizations. This is something we believe in strongly to strengthen the community around us. Below is a list of organizations we have given to:

Kinetic Ensemble
Al-Khidmat Foundation
The School of Architecture (formerly Taliesin School of Architecture)


718 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77006

P.O. Box 1707
Minnetonka, MN 55345

(281) 845-9801


Photo: Fil Nenna