The Barrys who feature in Building Passions include three generations of architects and civil engineers starting with the patriarch Sir Charles Barry (architect of the Houses of Parliament). The book describes his travels around Europe and the Middle East and its influence on his subsequent architectural career.
Sir Charles' building sons were Sir John Wolfe Barry (the civil engineer of Tower Bridge and founder of British Standards), Charles Barry (the architect of Dulwich College) and Edward Middleton Barry (the architect of the Royal Opera House and Floral Hall). His other sons Alfred (a cleric and his biographer) and Godfrey (a surveyor) are referred to briefly in the book. An English Heritage Blue Plaque for Sir John Wolfe Barry was put up at his former home in Chelsea in November 2019, to coincide with the book launch the following day.
Sir Charles Barry's grandsons, also covered in the book, were Charles Edward Barry (architect), Arthur Barry (civil engineer) and Kenneth Wolfe Barry (civil engineer).