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Alan Buchsbaum papers

Identifier: DM001

  • Staff Only


The bulk of this collection is made up of Buchsbaum's files on individual architectural and design projects, documenting the development of many of the projects that Buchsbaum and the Design Coalition worked on during his lifetime as well as those that were completed shortly after he died. General business files and a small amount of material related to Buchsbaum's memorial service are also included.


  • 1976-1989 (bulk dates 1977-1987)
  • Majority of material found within 1977 - 1987


General Physical Description note

(24 document cases, 1 half-size document case)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


9.8 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

Series 1 comprises general business files including bills, invoices, and receipts, e.g., Aurora Color Labs, auto club, auto rental companies, FedEx, Con Edison (utility co.), New York Telephone, Pearl Paint (art supplies). Other files include architecture registrations, subscriptions and dues, and unemployment insurance papers.

Series 2 is made up of individual project files including a variety of papers. Files include correspondence, furniture brochures, insurance certificates, invoices, notes, owner-contractor agreements, permits, sketches, and statements. Project files of notable size are the Barkin Loft, Dennis Apartment, Ecco Shoes, Keaton Apartment, Kogod Residence, Midler Loft, and the Tenenbaum House.

The numbering system was established by the COA prior to the collection coming to the Georgia Tech Design Archives. The letter prefixes indicate a grouping of materials by type: KA=space planning and interior design; KB=commercial; KC=residential/houses; KD=residential/house additions and renovations; KE=residential/apartments and lofts; KF=product design; KG=not used; KH=exhibits and graphic design; KI=not used; KJ=theaters and entertainment facilities; KK=landscape/garden design and municipal urban design; KL=architectural competitions/building design; KM=miscellaneous/unknown; KN=personal binders and Design Coalition management documents; KO=posters, articles, fabrics, photos, art collections; KP=Greene Street Construction Company documents. The number of each file has been included in this finding aid, in parentheses after the file title. The original order of the files has been retained.

A small amount of material from Buchsbaum's memorial service, which was held on April 24, 1987, is found in Series 3. Included here is the text of a speech given by Rosalind Krauss along with a DVD of the service.

Biography of Alan Buchsbaum

Alan Buchsbaum (1935-1987) was an influential architect and designer whose work was primarily showcased in New York City.

Born in Savannah in September of 1935, Buchsbaum received his early training at Georgia Tech, graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture. He served for six months in the U.S. Army Ordinance Corps after graduation, as part of the ROTC program. After earning a second architectural degree from M.I.T. in 1961, he worked in several architectural firms, including Conklin and Rossant in Virginia and Warner, Burns, Toan, and Lunde in New York. Buchsbaum took a year-long sabbatical for extensive travel around Europe and Asia in 1966 and 1967, a seminal experience that shaped his development as an architect and designer.

After returning home in the summer of 1967, Buchsbaum founded his own New York City firm, the Design Coalition. It is his work under the auspices of this firm that would propel him to become the designer for many well-known and wealthy clients. His early career was based on the concept of livable, unconstrained, accommodating style, especially the High-Tech style of Manhattan residential loft living. Buchsbaum lived and worked in two lofts he designed on Greene Street in SoHo, New York City. His initial partners were architects Howard Korenstein and Rosario Piomelli and graphic designer Alan Mitelman. Stephen Tilly was a partner at the time of Buchsbaum's death. The firm designed private residential spaces and commercial spaces, often bringing industrial objects and symbols of popular culture into them. Buchsbaum also designed furniture, rugs, and wallpaper. Selected drawings and wallpaper designs were purchased by the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s permanent collection.

Among Buchsbaum's notable architectural and design projects were Paper Poppy (1968); Metamorphosis, Great Neck, NY (1969); the Tenenbaum House, Columbia, SC (1978); the Gerber House, Chappaqua, NY (1979); Buchsbaum Loft 1 (1976); Buchsbaum Loft 2 (1982); Moondance Diner (1983); Joel/Brinkley Penthouse (1985); and the Dennis Apartment (1986). Current celebrities benefited from Buchsbaum's work, including Diane Keaton (Apartment, 1979), Ellen Barkin (Loft, 1984), and Bette Midler (Loft, 1984). As sidelines Buchsbaum pursued photography and became a food critic, writing occasional restaurant reviews for the Village Voice under the pseudonym FAT.

Buchsbaum’s work has been published in practically every design magazine in the United States as well as in Japan, France, Italy, England, and Germany. He was a guest lecturer for the Pratt Institute, New York University, the New School of Social Research, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Open Atelier. He also taught architectural design at City College of New York, Columbia University, and Yale University.

Although Buchsbaum is well-known for his innovative, free-flowing design and romantic modernism, he is quoted in Alan Buchsbaum, Architect and Designer: The Mechanics of Taste, (edited by Frederic Schwartz): Please don’t pin any label on my work. I have no philosophy to speak of, there’s no ideological content in my work. (p. 78)

Buchsbaum died of complications from AIDS on April 10, 1987 in New York City. After his death, projects were generally completed by his partners at Design Coalition. He is survived by his sister, Gloria Buchsbaum Smiley.


The collection is arranged into three series:

Missing Title

  1. SERIES 1. General business files
  2. SERIES 2. Individual project files
  3. SERIES 3. Posthumous materials

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.

Custodial History

The bulk of this collection was originally donated to the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The collection was transferred to the newly formed Georgia Tech Design Archives in 2008. In the same year the material in Series 3 was donated to the Archives.


Transferred to Archives and Records Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Architecture. Accession Number 2008.032 (2009.025).

Related Materials

The vertical files at the Georgia Tech Archives contain numerous newspaper and magazine articles on Buchsbaum's life and work.

Separated Material

The drawings and photographs in this collection have been separated and will be processed as part of the Alan Buchsbaum Visual Materials Collection (DV001).

General Physical Description note

(24 document cases, 1 half-size document case)

Processing Information

Charlene Hsu Gross processed these papers in September 2009.

Inventory of the Alan Buchsbaum Papers, 1976-1989 (bulk dates 1977-1987)
Charlene Hsu Gross, Christine de Catanzaro
Copyright September 2009.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA