If the past informs the present, Alexander Ives is living proof. The third-generation Palm Beacher is the president of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, a fitting role considering his family history: His maternal grandfather, Bernard Cooley, was the president of The Colony Hotel from 1949 to 1959, while his paternal grandfather, Philip Ives, was a well-known residential architect in the Northeast. As the foundation’s first president since 1991, Alexander is dedicated to preserving the cultural identity of his hometown—and his own family legacy.
“It’s a very lucky thing to come from a place where generations of your family contributed something to that community—and to be able to continue and be part of that in a wide-ranging way.”
What fascinates him about preservation: I’ve always been taken by the way a cultural environment affects a community. I think the places where you work, the streets you walk on, the places you drive in affect your vision of your community, how you treat each other and how you feel about things.
His favorite place in Palm Beach: The Phipps Plaza area. Almost every major architect in the town of Palm Beach—Addison Mizner, Maurice Fatio, Marion Sims Wyeth, John Volk, even Howard Major and Belford Shoumate—all have something in that area.
Personal preservation moment: The landmarking of the 400 Building condominium. At one point, my grandparents moved in there. I remember spending summers on the roof-deck pool with cousins.
An architect he admires: Peter Zumthor. He has this sort of religious cult around him, and I’m probably a member.
An avid childhood memory: Riding my bike on the bike trail, going to the Stop-N-Go (which is now a bunch of really nice high-end townhouses) and getting a comic book or a magazine and a 78-ounce cup of Dr. Pepper.
Favorite local bite: The squid-ink orecchiette at Buccan.
Can’t stop buying: Books. I have maybe 700. They cover every single wall and work as tables.
Guilty pleasure: I happen to be a Dr. Who fanatic. I don’t feel particularly guilty about it.
Something few people know about him: Way back when, I used to DJ on the weekends in downtown West Palm.
Quality he admires most in a person: Forgiveness. I think that’s a very valuable quality because you limit yourself if you’re not willing to forgive, and you limit your experiences.
Favorite book: In Search of Lost Time. That’s the perfect title for someone who works in preservation.
Photography by Robert Nelson.
Shot on location by Palm Beach Illustrated at The Breakers.
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