Ernest David Rapp

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Ernest David Rapp
Ernest Rapp.jpg Ernest Rapp.jpg
BornJune 7, 1918
Vienna, Austria
💀DiedApril 21, 2008
Longwood, FloridaApril 21, 2008
💼 Occupation
👩 Spouse(s)Herta Sylvia Rapp
👶 Children
  • Ethel Rapp Portnoy
  • Judtih Rapp Hara
  • Sharon Rapp Habif
  • Richard Joshua Rapp (d. 1989)

Ernest David Rapp was an American architect who was known for designing senior-citizen high rises up and down the east coast of the United States.[1]

Early life[edit]

Ernest David Rapp was born in Vienna, Austria in 1918 to Joshua and Ethel Rapp. Raised as an Orthodox Jew, Rapp quickly discovered that he and his family would have to flee the Nazi’s when his home town was invaded in 1938. He recalled being “literally thrown out of high school through the front door” by the Germans who would no longer allow Jewish children to attend schools.

While still in high school, Rapp began designing patterns for dresses for a company in Belfast, Northern Ireland.[2] It was because of this, he would be able to escape Austria on a visa to Belfast where he would work for a year to get his father and sister, Bertha Rapp Schorr, out of harms way. The three would immigrate to the United States in 1939.[3]

Rapp served in the US Army and Engineering Corps during World War II designing portable radio towers. Following the war, he earned a degree in architecture at Columbia University and NYU in New York, where he would meet his future wife Sylvia.[4]


Rapp began his architecture career in New York designing restaurants, shops and subdivisions. He then moved his family to Orlando, Florida in 1956 for warmer weather and an easier life for his family.

Mid-Century Modern Design-Residential

In Orlando he became a partner with Hugo Broleman. Rapp was selected to design the State Office Building as well local shopping centers, restaurants and residential homes. He admired the Mid-Century Modern designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, who inspired several of his residential and commercial designs.[5]

In the 1960s, Rapp became one of the foremost architects in the country specializing in low income housing for the elderly. He designed high rise towers in Orlando such as Kinneret Apartments, Lucerne Towers, Magnolia Towers, Orlando Central Towers, Baptist Towers and Calvary Towers. He also designed similar buildings in Miami, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn.

In the early 1960s Rapp was named as one of the United State’s Top 50 Architects and was invited to John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration in Washington, DC.[citation needed]

Living off his wife's income as a teacher for nearly a decade, Rapp was able to reinvest his architecture skills and salary into designing and building apartment communities for low income residents (HUD Housing) throughout Florida as well purchasing acreage he would later design and plat for residential subdivisions.[citation needed]

Retirement and philanthropy[edit]

Rapp did pro bono work for the Orlando and Jewish Communities designing synagogues and subdivisions. He was a large supporter of the State of Israel as well as the Jewish Federation of Central Florida, Kinneret Council on Aging, JFS, and Chabad.

Living through Nazi Germany and having lost everything overnight, Rapp was a firm believer in education. He often stated that "education is something that could never be taken from you." This was a belief he instilled in his entire family, quietly helping both his nuclear and extended families to supplement their education when needed. The idea of teaching someone to fish versus giving them one was paramount.

Personal life and death[edit]

Rapp married Sylvia in a small ceremony 1946 in New York. They have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.[6]

He died on April 21, 2008 with his entire family at his bedside in Longwood, Florida after a battle with cancer.


  1. "Ernest Rapp is a Architect". Archived from the original on 2017-12-22.
  2. "Ernest Rapp's design skills helped him flee Nazis, fueled career in architecture in Orlando area". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
  3. "School Life of Ernest Rapp". Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
  4. "ERNEST DAVID RAPP". Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
  5. "2018 Historic Preservation Board Calendar: Orlando's Mid-Century Modern Architecture" (PDF). City of Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 December 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  6. "Ernest Rapp's Family". Archived from the original on 2017-12-22.

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