Scores of colleagues and clients from across Florida packed the Markham Woods Seventh-Day Adventist Church Monday to mourn the sudden passing of Reinaldo "Ray" Acosta, a founding partner of Baker Barrios.
"Thirty years ago I met Ray, his warm smile welcomed me to Florida and that smile never faded," partner Tim Baker told GrowthSpotter. "No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the level of stress, you could always count on that reassuring smile."
Acosta, 56, died suddenly on March 15 of a heart attack. Born in Havana, Cuba, Acosta emigrated to the United States and studied architecture at the New York Institute of Technology. He earned his Masters from The New School of Architecture and Design.
"We had the pleasure of having Ray work for our firm early in his career," said Ray Scott and Michelle Bairly of Scott + Cormia Architecture and Interiors. "He was a dedicated architect that has inspired us with his passion for architecture and learning."
Acosta's career spanned more than three decades in planning and architecture and included some of the most iconic buildings in downtown Orlando.
Signature projects include the Dr. Philips Center for Performing Arts and the OUC headquarters building downtown. He designed many of Orlando's landmark residential and mixed-use towers, including the 55 West tower, 420 East luxury apartments and Nora Apartments. He also led the design team that converted the former OUC offices into the Starwood Aloft hotel, and designed the Second Harvest Food Bank pro bono.
Colleagues remember his generous nature and encouragement. Partner Tyler Kirby said Acosta mentored associates who were early in their careers. His daughter, Raquel Nicole Acosta Canther, followed in her father's footsteps by earning a degree in architecture and joining the firm as an associate.
"He was truly a part of the team, and that's what he really exuded," Kirby said. "He was always helping. If he walked by and saw that someone was struggling with a project, he'd put aside his own deadlines and help them. I've never met anyone like that. He just had this extra special way about him that was non-threatening, and no ego -- a very genuine person."
Acosta was preceded in death by his father Jesus Rene Acosta. He is survived by his wife Evelyn Mejias Acosta; children Ryan Alexander Acosta, Canther and Richard Seth Acosta; siblings Jesus Rene Acosta Jr. and Reynold Acosta; grandchildren Jaxon Cole Canther and Mason Alexander Canther.