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Alfred Browning Parker Architecture and Homes - Lisa Fox Real Estate

Alfred Browning Paker Home - Seminole House, Coconut Grove, Miami,  FL.
Photo Copyright: Bo Parker Photographer 1980

Alfred Browning Parker Architecture and Homes – Lisa Fox Real Estate 

You can’t be a Realtor in the Coral Gables, Coconut Grove or South Miami area for long without hearing the name Alfred Browning Parker.   I recently had the pleasure of learning more about this great Florida architect while selling one of his masterpieces, a modern home built in 1950, located at 5189 Alton Road in Miami Beach.  A.B. Parker put a mark on South Florida by creating his brand of modernistic architecture to blend in with the regional characteristics of the South Florida tropics.  He, along with other modern architects of his era and prior, adhered to the principle that "form follows function", and that design should have a purpose, not solely be ornamental.  This movement swayed away from the Victorian homes of the past.  Parker opened his office in Miami in 1946, and he designed over 500 projects with a career that spanned over 60 years.  He received a lifetime achievement award in Miami from the American Institute of Architects, and he was a Living Legends Honoree by the Dade Heritage Trust in 2011.   Post retirement, he continued to design a few dozen projects while joining the faculty in the School of Architecture at his Alma Matter, the University of Florida in Gainvesville.  He is still recognized today as “Florida’s best architect ever.”

The majority of Parker’s projects were regional to South Florida, from a complete subdivision for incoming GI’s after WWII in the 1950’s, to middle class and luxury homes he designed for clients as well as himself, in Coral Gables  and Gables Estates, Coconut Grove, South Miami, and Miami Beach. He also designed commercial projects, such as the Hope Lutheran Church Sanctuary on Bird Road, the Miami Marine Stadium, and several other important works, including a proposal for a memorial in NYC after 911.  Several of his homes were featured in House Beautiful magazine. I am told that the property on Alton Road is his only remaining build on Miami Beach. Fortunately it will be well cared for by the new owner, a retired architect.

Parker’s philosophy and work have a consistent element noticeable and still desired today. He was influenced by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as ecologist and University of Miami professor of tropical forestry, Dr. John C. Gifford.  Parker developed a strong design point of view from his “respect for the earth and its resources as well as a moral and aesthetic interest in the power of nature as a vital and rational force,” according to Allan T. Shulman, author and Miami architect.  Parker's home office in his Coconut Grove residence was said to feel like being in a treehouse.   Many of his houses utilized cypress wood.  Although he still practiced in his later years, in the 1980’s he shifted his attention predominately to the design of renewable and alternative energy systems and his Solar Reactor Corporation.

In a printed memoire in 2010 by the University of Florida, School of Architecture, A.B. Parker wrote: “There is a danger in trying to live up to your reputation. It is more prudent to ask a question, What are you doing tomorrow?  The answer: Better than I did yesterday. – A mind is to use. Dormancy is not tolerable. Go to the end of your life all used up."

Here are a few notable reads on A.B. Parker:
The Architecture of Alfred Browning Parker: Miami’s Maverick Modernist by Randolph C. Henning and Alfred Browning Parker
The Discipline of Nature: Architect Alfred Browning Parker In Florida, Allan T. Shulman, editor.

 

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