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Architect Frank R. Mudano, 78, designed several malls and other retail centers in the county.

Frank R. Mudano, a local architect whose designs have influenced retail shopping in Pinellas County for decades, died Sunday (July 29, 2007) at Harbourwood Health & Rehab Center after a long illness. He was 78.

Mr. Mudano designed Clearwater, Countryside, Gateway and Seminole malls, as well as hundreds of shopping centers, office buildings, banks, and other facilities

"He was the first architect I ever built for, back in 1975, at Countryside Mall," said longtime friend and business associate Alan Bomstein, president of Creative Contractors Inc. of Clearwater. "I used to refer to him as the 'dean of Tampa Bay architects'. ... (He) nurtured dozens of young architects."

Mr. Mudano, who commonly wore a bow tie, was a native of Winsted, Conn. He graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952 and served two years in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant. He moved to Belleair in 1954 and went to work for Southeastern Engineering as an architect.

His first project was Cleveland Plaza in Clearwater. In 1966, he opened his own firm, Mudano Associates Architects Inc.

Originally at the corner of Drew Street and Missouri Avenue, the firm later relocated to East Bay Drive.

Mr. Mudano and his firm earned solid recognition for designing Searstown, Loehmann's Plaza, Holiday Mall, Tri-City Plaza, Clearwater YMCA, the Long Center, the downtown Clearwater fire station, Belleview Biltmore Spa, and many other area structures.

When Clearwater Mall, one of Mr. Mudano's designs, was razed, he was wistful.

"It's like losing a child," he said, then added, "I think it was simply a matter of the thing self-destructing without anyone really making an honest effort to revitalize it with a new tenant lineup."

Mr. Mudano was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architecture; former state director of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects; former president and state director of the Florida Association of Architects, Florida Central Chapter.

Mr. Mudano was also a former town commissioner of Belleair, former president and board member of the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center and a founding member of the Clearwater Downtown Development Board.

"I had enormous respect for the man," Mr. Bomstein recalled. "He put on no pretenses. He was a class act."

Survivors include his wife of 41 years, Cornelia C. "Connie"; two sons, Michael D., Las Vegas, and Thomas, New Port Richey; three daughters, Nina Marie Fairchild, Chattanooga, Tenn., Lisa Marian Dalton, Clearwater, and Amy Elaine Wilson, Atlanta; a brother, Sam, Thomaston, Ga.; a sister, Linda Mudano Washburn, Hollywood, Fla.; 12 nieces and nephews; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, 701 Orange Ave., Clearwater.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, Joslin Diabetes Center, Clearwater, or the Frank Mudano Scholarship, College of Architecture, University of Florida, c/o Stephen Swanberg, 521 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S, St. Petersburg.


Career highlights

- Graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952.

- Moved to Belleair in 1954 and began his architectural career with Southeastern Engineering.

- Opened Mudano Associates Architects Inc. in 1966.

- Designed Clearwater, Countryside, Gateway and Seminole malls in addition to hundreds of shopping centers, office buildings, banks and other facilities.