Buchsbaum was a fixture of New York design

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Teri Nagel
College of Architecture
Contact Teri Nagel
404-385-2156

Georgia Tech will open an exhibition of the professional papers of Alan Buchsbaum (Arch 1961) on Thursday, January 22 at 4 p.m. in the Neely Gallery on campus. Buchsbaum (1935-1987), was a native of Savannah, Georgia, and best known for his New York-based architectural and commercial design practice. The papers were graciously donated by Buchsbaum's sister Gloria Smiley to the Georgia Tech College of Architecture Heffernan Archival Center of Design which is currently housed and maintained by the Georgia Tech Library and Archives.

Alan Buchsbaum (1935-1987)
Buchsbaum graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture. He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a Bachelor of Architecture in 1961. Buchsbaum then went to New York where he would remain for the rest of his life. He worked for five years in several New York firms and then traveled around Europe and Asia when he came back in 1967 to start his own practice which he named the Design Coalition. It is his work under the auspices of this firm which would propel him to become the designer for many well-known and wealthy clients. In addition to being a designer, he was a photographer, food critic, and a gracious and generous friend.

His exposure to architecture from the perspective of technological institutions during the height of modernism helped shape his aesthetic sense as he was credited with being the originator of what has been called the high tech style, which incorporated new and industrial-related components, processes, and pop culture symbols in his residential designs. Highly sensitive to changing tastes and the needs of his clients, Buchsbaum created very livable rooms, spaces, furnishings, and buildings for his patrons, who included Diane Keaton, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, Bette Midler, and Ellen Barkin.

At the time of his death Michael Sorkin, New York architect and architecture critic for the Village Voice, described Buchsbaum as, "he remained true to modernism, but managed to sensualize it with soft and rich forms, textures and colors - his work was brilliant and his research, ongoing and open-minded. Looking back at his bold designs that frequently combined vibrant colors, exaggerated patterns, industrial functionalism, and textured austerity, Buchsbaum seems a product of his time; however, at the time, his highly individualized designs were at the forefront of taste in New York's popular culture."

He was diagnosed with AIDS during a time when the disease was not well understood or well managed. He died at the age of 51 in New York on April 10, 1987. His memorial service was held on April 24 at a Soho art gallery on Greene Street in New York. Mandy Patinkin played the piano, Bette Midler sang, and his friends and colleagues spoke of him, his work, and their friendship. Buchsbaum was one of the many artists featured in Thew New York Times, Time magazine, and Newsweek about the devastating toll AIDS was taking on the creative community.