The AMAZING Gilbert Seltzer, AIA, is Celebrating his 105th Birthday with AIANJ!

October 11, 2019

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The AMAZING Gilbert Seltzer, AIA, is Celebrating his 105th Birthday with AIA New Jersey!

Gil and Jerry


Every day, Gilbert Seltzer, AIA, opens up his office in West Orange and starts his day on the boards. Walking into his solo office is like a blast from the past. One might expect Don Draper to stop in for coffee.



Gil is famous throughout the building, and so they have installed a huge birthday banner in the main lobby for the month of October. 



Gil’s biggest fan, Jerome Eben, FAIA, joined AIA New Jersey recently to hear from Gil his fond memories of his vast portfolio.

Once we got started, it was clear that Gil is most proud of the Utica Memorial Auditorium. And likewise, Utica is most proud of Gil! On October 31, 2017, the renamed Adirondack Bank Center installed a 6′ x 8′ portrait of Gil in their sports bar! 



Mr. Seltzer took us right back to the early days designing this revolutionary project, and recalls the process in detail. The auditorium project suffered from a limited site and terrible soil conditions. The client wanted no visible columns in order to maximize the view from every seat. After examining the options within these constraints, the design resulted in a round building. 



What to do with the roof?  A dome would have made it look like an observatory. Engineer Lev Zetlin, specializing in long span design recommended cables. A bicycle wheel design, using two sets of cables, solved the design problem!  



More on this fascinating building here.



The Utica Auditorium building was the inspiration for the current Madison Square Garden. 

Mr. Seltzer was also kind enough to share his memories of his time in the Ghost Army in WWII. We will share more on this remarkable story for Veterans Day. 



Earlier this week, Jerry Eben, FAIA, and AIA New Jersey President Judy Donnelly, AIA, joined the West Orange Planning Board in honoring Mr. Seltzer’s lifetime of contributions to the profession and to society in celebration of his 105th birthday, October 11, 2019. 




AIA New Jersey asked Mr. Seltzer for his advice for the next generation of architects. He offered, “They say it’s a hellava hard way to make a living. I consider it the mother of all arts. I have worked with the greatest artists in the world. I am proud to call myself an architect. If that’s what you want, continue.”  



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