Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Obituary - ALAN BERMAN


August 24, 2018

Alan B. Berman, an architect responsible for scores of prominent Central Florida buildings, passed away on Aug. 10, 2018. For nearly four decades, starting in 1960-a period of rapid growth in Central Florida-Berman designed homes, office buildings, shopping centers, and hotels. His keen sense of design was put to use by several of the regions most successful real estate developers.

"Alan was a very talented architect and human being," said James Russell, a retired developer. "He made great use of space. His work and his life were honest."

Berman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 18, 1930. He was the son of George Berman and Myra Gingold, Jewish immigrants from Belarus. Berman became an only child at that age of four after his nine-year-old sister, Gloria, died.

As a young man, Berman developed a keen interest in photography and jazz. His trips as a teenager into Manhattan to see the popular music stars of the day, including Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, inspired Berman's lifelong love of jazz crooners. Berman also was an avid photographer throughout his life-delighting family and friends with images from his travels.

Berman enrolled as an undergraduate in engineering at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. When his parents retired to Miami Beach, Berman transferred to the University of Florida, where he graduated with a degree in architecture in 1952. Soon after graduating, Berman served as a captain in the United States Air Force in San Antonio, Texas, and Biloxi, Miss. As he was preparing to deploy to the Korean War, the conflict ended in July 1953.

After his discharge from the Air Force, Berman moved to Miami Beach to start his architectural career. One of Berman's first jobs in 1954 was to design the roadside sign for the Ocean Palm Motel, which was developed and owned by his father. Berman's mid-century modernist sign became a beloved local landmark.

In August 1957, Berman met Marcia Gibbs of DeLand, Fla., when their parents set them up on a blind date. He proposed marriage to Gibbs, then a student at Emory University, just six weeks after their first date. The couple married on Feb. 17, 1958, at the Elinor Beach Country Club in Ormond Beach, Fla. In 2018, Marcia and Alan celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

In 1960, the couple relocated to the Orlando area. Berman opened his architectural firm in downtown Orlando. In the ensuing four decades, Berman designed numerous award-winning buildings, including the Sheraton World Hotel at SeaWorld Orlando, hotels in Atlantic City, N.J., and Durham, N.C., and many iconic, modern, custom homes in the area.

Berman's triplex on Park Avenue, where he lived for the past 15 years, won a Grand Aurora Award-a design competition of the Southeast Building Conference, a program of the Home Builders Association. Berman also designed the Home Builder Association's Central Florida headquarters.

Berman was an active member of the American Institute of Architects. In 1981, he represented the Orlando branch in an exchange program with the Swiss Institute of Architects, which brought Berman on a tour to Switzerland, including Zurich and Geneva.

The couple raised their three children in Maitland. Vicki, an attorney, and Reid, a real estate developer and investor, live in Winter Park. Bradley, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., is a writer.

Berman retired in 2005, after which he traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Baltics, Iceland and South America with his wife and close friends, Marvin and Myrna Newman.

"His wit and his goodness were contagious," said Newman, a retired attorney and professor at Rollins College.

Berman is survived by his wife, Marcia; three children-Vicki, Reid, Bradley and his wife, Angela; brother-in-law, Gus and his wife, Arlene; and five grandchildren-Joey, Nadira, Sasha, Isaac, and Oliver.

Funeral services were held at Congregation of Reform Judaism with Rabbi Steven W. Engel officiating. Interment followed at Palm Cemetery in Winter Park.

In memory of Alan Berman, the family requests contributions to The Jewish Pavilion, 421 Montgomery Road, Suite 231, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714.

Arrangements were entrusted to Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel, 640 Lee Road, Orlando FL 32810. 407-599-1180.


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