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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 5, 2019 3 months ago

In Memoriam: Greg Hall, 1960-2019

Sarasota architect Greg Hall died June 29 after a brief illness.

In the middle of a busy day, sometimes Greg Hall would take a moment to sit down in his office and talk about architecture.

Not the nuts and bolts, but architecture and design from a philosophical point of view.

“He was really a believer in the effect design can have on a community,” says Glenn Darling, an architect and director of design at Sarasota-based Hall Architects. “I learned a lot in those talks with him just about the way he saw our profession. Those are the times I’ll cherish.”

Hall died June 29 after a brief illness. He was 59. He is survived by his wife, Eleana, the CFO of Hall Architects, and his two sons, Ben and Sam.

Greg Hall founded Hall Architects in 2003, and the firm now has nine employees. It’s worked on projects for PGT Innovations, Tervis, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, the Catholic Diocese of Venice and Bayside Community Church, among other clients.

“I think among architecture firms it was a really unique place to work,” Darling says. “He had such a calming presence. We have a very high-stress profession. He was able to really bring that presence to bear and set the tone for our office.”

Architecture offices can have high turnover, he adds, but that wasn’t the case at Hall Architects. “He was always very concerned with the wellbeing of his employees,” Darling says. “I think that he really considered our wellbeing as a part of making a successful business.”

Hall also worked for noted architect Carl Abbott’s firm and collaborated with him on later projects. 

“Greg was a very good, patient, kind person,” Abbott says. “He was very thorough and knew the codes very, very well.”

One of Hall’s recent points of pride was restoring the Umbrella House, a home in Sarasota’s Lido Shores designed by Paul Rudolph, an architect at the center of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement of the mid-twentieth century. “I think part of Greg’s mission was to try to preserve that architecture whenever we could because it’s so important,” Darling says. 

Abbott says Hall’s love was preservation. “The big thing is his historical preservation awareness,” he says. “There’s no one like him that I know, certainly in this part of the state.”

During his career, Hall also taught at the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning and at the school’s Preservation Institute in Nantucket, Mass.

John LaCivita, executive vice president at Sarasota-based Willis Smith Construction, says he and Hall started working together in 2010, when the firms partnered on projects. They quickly became friends.

“We always looked out for the clients’ best interests, both of us,” LaCivita says. “That was a big deal to work with an architect that has a similar culture of doing what’s right at any expense.”

Hall, he says, was intent on getting the clients’ vision on paper. “Because he was a past educator at the University of Florida, he really asked the right questions and really tried to find out what the client really wanted in the project,” LaCivita says. “He just genuinely cared for every client he worked for.”

With the loss of Hall, LaCivita says Sarasota will miss his mentorship to architects and staff, his designs and his expertise on historical projects. “All of his architects just loved him and loved working for him,” LaCivita says. “He always had a smile on his face. He was always positive. He’s just all around a great guy, and I’m going to miss him deeply.”

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