In Memory of Friend and Colleague Gerald B. Olanoff
By Françoise Bollack
Published in Oculus, AIA, New York Chaapter, January 1996, and
reprinted in the Columbia AIDS Memorial List
On October 22, New York architect Jerry Olanoff, AIA, died of AIDS at
age 42, with his partner of 20 years, Ron Csuha, at his side. Olanoff,
who received his master's degree in architecture from Columbia
University, had joined Davis, Brody & Associates in 1979, where he
participated in the renovation of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the
old Bird House at the Bronx Zoo. Olanoff's admiration for Charles
Moore was evident in his private work on houses on Fire Island, in
Massachusetts, and in residential renovations in Manhattan.
In 1984, Jerry helped found the Lesbian and Gay Community Services
Center, setting up an advisory architectural committee to develop a
master plan for renovation and expansion of the center at 202 West
13th Street. He nurtured various projects, including the award-winning
facade restoration completed in 1991. For those who knew Jerry,
including this writer, it is particularly sad that he will not see the
realization of the center's renovation, scheduled to begin construction
this year—the result of his committed and lucid guidance.
At a memorial service held at the center after his death, family and
friends recalled his sartorial mannerisms, the Groucho Marx-like lift of
his eyebrows, his occasional crotchetiness, and his marvelous curiosity.
All remembered his courage in dealing with AIDS and his refusal to be
shut in by his illness.
Two years ago, Olanoff spoke with David Dunlap about AIDS and the
practice of architecture for an article in The New York Times: "I've been
thinking about artistic legacies. With lots of gay artists who have died of
AIDS, the family has come in and thrown the stuff out. But one does
not keep a finished building in a drawer in an apartment. Part of my
sense of accomplishment is that there are tangible results."
Bollack, Françoise, "Project: The Lesbian and Gay Community Services
Center, Facade Restoration," in Cantor, Steven L., Contemporary Trends
in Landscape Architecture, Wiley, November, 1996.
Françoise Bollack, Françoise Bollack Architects – Public Works, (New
York, Lulu Publications, ISBN 978-1-105-63228-0), P.?Contemporary
Trends in Landscape Architecture - Page 56
The New York Times,
October 25, 1995