Legacy Builder: Library Presentation Honors Local Architect Harald Gerber
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – When Harald Gerber passed away at the age of 91 last October, he left behind a legacy in a form that not everyone can duplicate: buildings.
Gerber, who worked as an architect and designed many of the buildings that still stand in south-central Idaho, was honored at a community gathering Wednesday at the Twin Falls Public Library.
“We still have a massive amount of stuff to go through,” said reference librarian Jennifer Hills, who conducted the presentation and noted the slides she had chosen were just a sampling of the images highlighting Gerber’s career. The slides of Gerber and many of the buildings he designed were presented to a crowd of around 30, many of them senior citizens who knew the Twin Falls architect.
Among the buildings he designed were banks, churches, homes, dairies, schools and local government facilities. He also designed Magic Valley Regional Airport, which currently is being remodeled and expanded to better serve the growing community’s travel needs.
“It’s a great-looking building,” she said. “I hope they keep some of it the same as they go into the new phase they’re working on now.”
Some of Gerber’s buildings have since been either razed or remodeled, but many still stand including First Federal Bank buildings in Buhl and Twin Falls, Willswood and Faulkner apartments and the C.O.R.E. Lodge, among many others. He also designed additions to some area churches and schools such as the First Methodist and First Presbyterian churches in Twin Falls.
Sometimes when working on a design he’d have to accommodate the wishes of several co-owners of a property at the same time, which wasn’t such an easy task given that each owner might have different ideas. But he was always patient with his clients, Hills said.
He also designed his own home that he and his sweetheart, Phyllis, built in 1957 – four years after they tied the knot.
Gerber, who was born in Germany but immigrated to the U.S. when he was a child, grew up in Twin Falls. His personality and interests formed him into the person and architect he’d become later in life. He was a meticulous individual, who liked to take his camera with him when out and about. He’d often take photographs of the detailing on buildings and quiz people to see if they could guess the images.
Twin Falls resident Elly Young shared a memory of Gerber with News Radio 1310. Her husband, Steve, used to work as the city engineer and would tell her how Gerber would use a small dentist’s mirror to view the corners and details of the buildings he was inspecting.
“Before the city accepted work on a building, he’d go through it to make sure everything was perfect,” she said.
Hills told the Wednesday crowd that when a building of Gerber’s later was razed or remodeled, he’d accept it as a part of the profession he had chosen much earlier in life. It was just part of the business of being an architect and living in an ever-changing world. He didn’t play favorites with his creations, she said. His favorite building was always the one he was working on at the time.
Gerber’s wife, Phyllis, attended the event and told News radio 1310 after the presentation that before he passed away of lung cancer on Oct. 10, 2015, he was the oldest working architect in Idaho. It was said that the person he was in business was the same man he was at home – patient, meticulous, and interested in his wife and children’s lives.
What kind of feelings does Phyllis have when she sees her husband’s buildings today?
“It makes me feel proud, all of the work he did,” she said. “And the patience he had with his clients.”
To learn about future community presentations hosted by the library, call 733-2964.