Born in Chesterfield to a bank manager father, Richard Barry Parker trained at T.C. Simmonds Atelier of Art in Derby and the studio of George Faukner Armitage in Altrincham. In 1891, he joined his father in Buxton and designed three large houses in the town for him. Parker’s early career is defined by his partnership, from 1896, with his close friend, half-cousin and half brother-in-law, Raymond Unwin. Unwin would work on the more practical side of things while Parker on the more creative, including the design if fixtures and fittings, as well as being an accomplished artists. Their first major commission was the design of a model industrial village, New Earswick, near York, for Joseph & Seebohm Rowntree – a scheme that proved to be a useful architectural testbed for their work on Garden Cities and Suburbs. Park and Unwin’s successful master plan for Letchwroth Garden City thrust them into the limelight.
In 1906, Unwin left Letchworth to work on Hampstead Garden Suburb. Barry Parker remained in Letchworth becoming the sole consulting architect to First Garden City Ltd.