The prominent architect, born in 1926 as Charles Reed, Jr., died 3 February 2022 in his home in Raleigh, NC. He is survived by two daughters, one of which was at his side when he passed away.
Returning from service in World War II, Chuck Reed enrolled under the G.I. Bill (U.S. government sponsored education and training program for returning war veterans) in the University of Miami Architecture program and was scheduled to finish in Miami’s second graduating class. At the time, formal education was only one way of becoming a qualified architect; the more traditional “atelier” system of internship under a practicing architect was fully recognized, and the system followed by many of the greats, including Frank Lloyd Wright.
Reed met architect Igor Polevitzky and began working in his firm as a draftsman. According to a City of Hollywood oral history recorded in 2004, Reed did many of the details for the Polevitzky home at 1519 Harrison Street. He went on to practice independently and designed a number of revolutionary residential works in Hollywood Hills and North Central Hollywood.
His work typically utilizes structural materials like concrete block, colored and clear glass block, and exposed beams (usually glue laminated wood beams) in a highly detailed, but minimalist manner. Joints, where wall meets ceiling or materials merge are elegantly simple. The use of screened areas and open air partitions are also signature gestures of his work.
He was the key subject of an architectural symposium focused on the Mid-Century Modern movement and the design of Florida Tropical Homes as part of a 2004 Historic Preservation Week held in Hollywood.
Some of his many commissions include the Jaffe-Garrett House c. 1959, the Heller House II known as the “Birdcage” house, on Miami’s Venetian Causeway, the Havana Riviera Hotel in Havana, the Heiden House, the Gahstrom House 1952, the Simon House c. 1957, the Ritchie House 1958, the String House 1959, the Hulmes House 1956, the Brill House 1959, the Wicker House 1959 and the Lawson House 1960.
I was fortunate enough not only to broker two of his commissions, but even more so to meet Chuck and his lovely and wonderful wife Elaine, a renown artist. I own a beautiful sculpture of hers, a handpainted clay piece, and spent private time with them in Raleigh on numerous occasions. A very humble and approachable gentleman, Chuck just loved talking architecture, showing me sketches, elevations and floor-plans, and he enjoyed explaining his thoughts behind solutions I would query him about. Inevitably, Elaine would come into the study and ask if Chuck wasn't boring me. Nope.
Stories about his clients and their connection were so fascinating, I always made notes on napkins or whatever I could get a hold of, just so not to forget a specific construction detail or a funny story about weekly meets, hanging out at a clients' house long after it was completed.
I feel immensely privileged and honoured to have met Chuck and Elaine, and both sharing with me a bit of their creative and their private lives. I so enjoyed spending time with both of them – and I do miss them quite a bit.
Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.