Architect’s Perspective: Bernard J. Friedman, AIA: Recognized Talent
By Douglas Sydnor
Since World War II Tucson has developed a rich contemporary architectural heritage by creating an inspiring body of work. A dozen key figures were responsible for bringing this design approach and motivating future generations of architects. One of them is architect Bernard J. Friedman, AIA, who became a Tucson resident in 1940 and stayed 66 years until his death on June 21, 2012, at the age of 96.
University of Arizona Main Library
Friedman was raised in Chicago and in 1938 received his Bachelor of Science degree in architecture at the University of Illinois. He enlisted during World War II and served as a construction officer with the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. Friedman returned to Tucson and, shortly after that, married Irma Rumizen. He joined the firm, Green and Friedman, and then started his own architectural practice in 1948.
Friedman was called back to Washington, D.C. during the Korean conflict and served as the Coordinator for the Engineering & Technical Services Division, Bureau of Yards and Docks. In 1953 he reopened his practice in Tucson. Three years later a classmate, engineer Fred H. Jobusch, joined him as a principal of Friedman and Jobusch Architects & Engineers. The firm was prolific for more than 40 years, designing commercial, educational, religious, hospitality, and governmental commissions.
Historic Sunshine Mile NRHP, Hirsh's Shoes, 1954, Photo by Ray Manlry, THPF Collection
Friedman was especially proud of their University of Arizona projects, which ran from the late 1940s-1970s. These buildings include Agricultural Sciences, Physics-Math-Meteorology, and the College of Medicine. His firm’s strength in educational facilities extended to Pima College, Canyon del Oro High School, and a series of public elementary schools. Government commissions included the Tucson City Hall, Tucson Community Center, and Kitt Peak National Observatory facilities. The firm’s portfolio included commercial projects such as the El Con Shopping Center, The Plaza International Hotel, and a Valley National Bank. Places of worship included St. Albans Episcopal Church, St. Marks United Methodist Church, and Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church.
Rillito Park Grandstand
The Tucson architect was active with civic and professional groups. Friedman's resume includes presiding as president of the AIA Southern Arizona Chapter and architectural advisor to the Tucson Jewish Community Center. He served on numerous boards including the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, Tucson Festival Society, the Pima County Architectural Advisory Council, and City of Tucson Building Code Review Committee. He was also a member of the University of Arizona Foundation, the President’s Club, and the Wildcat Club.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Nov/Dec 2020 issue, Vol. 9, No. 6.