Harry Gesner

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Harry Gesner
Harold Gesner

(1925-04-28) April 28, 1925 (age 94)
Years active1947-present
Spouse(s)Nan Martin, 19-2010 (her death)

Harold "Harry" Gesner (born April 28, 1925) is an influential California architect.

Born and raised in Southern California, his designs are found in locations including Malibu and the Getty Museum.[1] Following service in the US Army during World War II,[2] Gesner is a self-taught architect.

Gesner became internationally known for his visionary style. His Wave House (1957) was an inspiration for the Sydney Opera House by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.[3][4]

Military service[edit]

Harry Gesner served in three separate branches of the army during World War II. First the 10th light division ski-troop and mountain climbing company. He then transferred to the army air corps and flew the B-26 aircraft bomber. Due to his climbing experience the army moved him to the 1st army 1st division company. He served as a ground troop that stormed Normandy Beach, Omaha. An experienced California surfer harry used duck diving to dodge enemy fire which helped him survive the invasion. His company was the first to group break through Siegfried line. They captured the town of Aachen. Then moved north to Churchmen Forest to fight the initial Battle of the Bulge. Harry was sent out to scout the location. He was injured at the outskirts of Cologne when he was blown though a stone wall from an 88 mm shell shot from a Tiger Tank. He was injured and left alone unconscious in the freezing winter overnight. His company found him the next day. Harry was transported to Paris where medics were prepared to cut off his frozen legs due to gangrene and frostbite. Due to an over flow of injured troops they could not scheduled his surgery. They shipped him to an English hospital. Harry used his knowledge from his time in the ski-troops and requested the nurses bring him ample amounts of olive oil. Harry saved his own legs over many days by using the olive oil as a lubricant. Using his hands, Harry forced blood down to his lower legs where many days later doctors cut the bottom of his feet to find ample blood flow. Then the newly discovered penicillin was used on him to stop the infection.

Architectural career[edit]

Following service in the US Army during World War II, Gesner became a self-taught architect. He studied under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. Harry Gesner felt his style was too constricting and left the school.

New architectural designs[edit]

Gesner's most recent innovative design is the Cocoon House. This revolutionary aerodynamic design was derived from his observations of nature. The designs come from out of the box thinking. It is self-contained, fully mobile and uses powerful earth screws to hold it when still.[5]


"The Personal Fire Department" Harry Gesner developed this system in conjunction with naval engineers. A wildfire detection and prevention system. [Patent Pending number: 62/696,665]. It incorporates off-grid systems, solar-senors, satellites, and computer software with a working system located in Malibu Heights. Called "The Personal Fire Department" Known by the name "The HotShot Fire System".[6]


Gesner is the widower of the actress, Nan Martin. They have three children: Tara Tanzer-Cartwright (Teacher), Jason Gesner (Hydroelectric Manager), and Zen Gesner (Actor).[citation needed] Gesner is a nephew of the aircraft designer Jack Northrop.[7]


  1. ^ Houses of the Sundown Sea. ASIN 1419700499.
  2. ^ "The Archivist: Wild At Heart | The Surfers Journal". The Surfers Journal. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  3. ^ Vanity Fair
  4. ^ "Malibu Mag". Archived from the original on 2007-12-25. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  5. ^ The Original Gesner Cocoon
  6. ^ California Wildfires (2018-08-23), Hot Shot Automatic Personal Home Fire Department System, retrieved 2018-09-23
  7. ^ "The Architect Harry Gesner, Still Riding That Wave". New York Times.