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Thursday, July 17, 2003

Architect Max Flatow Spent Family Vacations Exploring Buildings

By Barbara Chavez
Journal Staff Writer
    Albuquerque architect Max Flatow loved the way the sunshine bounced off the First National Bank Building at Central and San Mateo.
    "It's 23-karat gold up there," he once told a reporter during a tour of some of the buildings he had designed over his more than 50-year career. The gold was inlaid in the tile on the outside of the building.
    "We would be a richer society if we used our precious things on buildings instead of burying them in the ground," he said.
    Flatow died Tuesday. He was 87.
    "He would tell people he was 96," said Jaclyn Daiches, one of his four children. "What a jokester. We think he told people he was 96 so that he would look young for his age."
    Flatow's passion was architecture, and the family remembers vacations spent inspecting the walls and foundations of museums and churches, in addition to the artifacts inside.
    "I don't think we ever got tired of it," said Daiches. "But that's because he also made sure we tried everything from snow skiing and archery to fishing."
    Longtime friend Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said an era has passed.
    "Max never stopped pushing me to do things that he thought were important," Domenici said. "One of the last things he asked me to do was to make sure Albuquerque had a great park."
    Domenici said he has introduced legislation to build a park from the Central bridge to the Montaño Bridge within the next five to 10 years. "It's Max's idea," he said.
    Flatow was born in Texas. When he was 5, his father died, and Flatow and his four siblings were sent to a Masonic orphanage in Fort Worth.
    He started his firm in 1947 after he had spent time in World War II helping design and supervise the construction of research facilities at Los Alamos.
    Jason Moore joined Flatow as a partner in 1948. Moore died in August 2000. The firm grew to include partners Rusty Shaffer and Bob McCabe, and the firm became known as Flatow, Moore, Shaffer & McCabe, then FMSM Design Group Inc.
    Along with several other partners, Tobias Flatow and Jon Moore bought the firm in 1984 from their fathers. The firm closed in October 2002.
    Max Flatow and his firm designed a number of Albuquerque buildings, such as the Simms Tower, Medical Arts Square, the Dennis Chavez Federal Building and the U.S. Courthouse on Gold SW. Other projects included Civic Plaza, the Marriott hotel, the Bernalillo County Courthouse and the original Albuquerque Sports Stadium.
    Last year, FMSM sued the city over ownership of the architectural plans for the Sports Stadium, which the city was planning to renovate. A settlement was reached, calling for a payment of $15,000 to FMSM. The city also agreed that the reconstructed stadium would house a display about the original structure.
    Flatow never stopped creating, though he slowed down his architecture work in the past five years. He was an accomplished watercolor artist and taught painting at Albuquerque senior centers.
    Annie Flatow, his wife of 60 years, said Wednesday that "Seventy years was not enough time to know him."
    Besides Annie, Flatow is survived by his children and their spouses Daiches and husband, Alvin Daiches; Marsha Bronsky and husband, Edwin Bronsky; Sara Leach and husband, Arthur Leach; and Tobias Flatow and wife, Sarah Flatow. He had six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
    Services are Friday at 10 a.m. at Congregation B'Nai Israel on the corner of Washington and Indian School NE, with Rabbi Arthur Flicker officiating.