You are here

Allan J. Gelbin Papers

Architect Allan Gelbin (1929–1994) was born and raised in New York City and vicinity. He attended the School of Architecture at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1947 to 1949. Deeply impressed by Frank Lloyd Wright's theories about organic architecture, Gelbin quit college to become an apprentice to Wright at Taliesin East in Spring Green, Wisconsin, from 1949 to 1953. He then worked as a general contractor and supervisor overseeing the construction of three Wright-designed homes in Canton, Ohio, and one in New Canaan, Connecticut. Gelbin established his own private practice in Connecticut in 1957 and built the first of his three personal homes in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1958.

Gelbin spent most of his career working in the New England states, although he also spent several years living in the south. He frequently designed furnishings for his clients, and also developed designs for retail distribution. Realizing a long-held dream, Gelbin published his book Sun, earth, and sky: ideas for a new city in 1989, in which he outlined his theories of city planning.

Gelbin was also an amateur photographer and began photographing Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in color in 1949. Duplicates of these images are housed in the Archives of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Arizona and the Fiske Art Library at the University of Virginia. Gelbin's other hobbies were art-making and aviation. Gelbin began aviation courses at the age of fourteen and owned and flew three light aircraft as an adult. Gelbin also made and exhibited collages and silk-screen prints. In the last years of his life, Gelbin moved to Arizona to be near Wright's Taliesin West, where he intended to build another self-designed residence.