Alfred Browning Parker, the World War II postwar modernist architect, was born on September 24, 1916 in Boston, Massachusetts. After a serious battle with pneumonia his father feared for his only child's life and shortly after, moved the family to the warmer climate of Coral Gables, Florida. From an early age, Parker took interest in his surroundings and gathered information through observation. Developing an incredible knack for retaining knowledge his parents and his teachers saw how quickly he was able to catch on to new material, trait that would become very important later in his career.
In 1938 he graduated from the University of Florida School of Architecture where the dean, Rudolph Weaver, took note of the talented student's incredible attention to details and advanced drawing skills. Immediately following his graduation he joined the United States Navy, where he spent time around the Gulf of Mexico and in northern Europe. His job allowed him to travel extensively through northern Europe, allowing him to experience first hand, the works of Scandinavian architects. Upon his return to the United States he accepted a teaching position at the University of Florida School of Architecture. Not having a place to live, he had a minimal budget and limited time. Feeling the crunch with the upcoming school year, he purchased a piece of property just outside of the town limits of Gainesville, Florida and built his home in a month and a half, eventually being tagged with the name '6 Week Wonder' by an architectural magazine.
After a successful year as a design professor, Parker realized the importance of practicing to establish himself as a seasoned architect. The following year, Parker moved his family to Coconut Grove, Florida, where he started his own architectural practice at 2921 SW 27th Avenue. Finding a piece of property in Coral Gables, he slowly built his second home over the following three years, with a minimal budget and recycled materials. As projects began to trickle in, Parker began to develop a name for himself as a young, hard working, modernist architect who paid close attention to details.
As he completed his home and earned the respect of more clients, the size of his firm continued to grow. Parker continued to use his own houses as testing ground, designing and building his own homes to meet the needs of his growing family. Throughout his career, Parker was owner, designer, and builder of ten homes that helped him test his design theories and hone his craft as a builder. With the progression of each home his skill set also grew, which improved the quality of his buildings and gave him an understanding of how the materials weathered in the local environment and expanded his relationships with local builders and craftsmen.
Throughout the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, Parker's work could be found in many architectural magazines at both the local and national level. Four of his houses were chosen as national house of the year by House Beautiful magazine for their Pace Setters series. As he improved his craft and understanding of the built world, his client base grew rapidly, allowing for the size of his projects to vary greatly in size and budget.
His love for designing and making has spanned over three-quarters of a century of success as an architect. Parker has designed and built over 6,400 projects in his life time with the majority of his work focused in south Florida. His unique style of modernism embedded into the local vernacular, creates unique dwellings that embrace their local environment, blurring the boundaries between building and landscape. Parker's love for the built world has allowed him to return to the University of Florida where he currently teaches a class entitled "3 in 1: Architect, Designer, Owner," a valuable lesson he found of great use throughout his architectural career. With class in session every Saturday morning, Parker continues to teach his students the two key ingredients to good architecture: "It must be useful and beautiful."