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[Architectural Society, University of Pennsylvania, Group Photo]
AIA Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Local ID #: 004-P-001

Born: 2/12/1892, Died: 2/20/1973

Although he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's architecture program the same year as Louis I. Kahn, Boris I. Riaboff's background was markedly different. Born in Russia, Riaboff trained as a military engineer in St. Petersburg, and served as a captain in the Russian Imperial Army in World War I. When revolution broke out in 1917, Riaboff was stationed in Siberia, and left for the United States by way of Japan. After immigrating to San Francisco, he made his way toward South America, and while in Mexico, a former Russian diplomat persuaded him to go to Cuba to find engineering work. From Cuba he traveled to New York, and then to Philadelphia, where he received a B.Arch. with honors from Penn in 1924, followed by a Henry Gilette Woodman traveling scholarship for 1925-6 and his master's degree. For the Woodman scholarship, Riaboff visited France, Spain, and Italy, and studied at the American Academy in Rome.

Upon his return to Philadelphia, Riaboff taught night courses at the T-Square Club, and was given a post as a design instructor in Penn's architecture program. He stayed at Penn until 1932. In this period he also worked for Harry Sternfeld and in Paul Cret's office, participating in the Benjamin Franklin (Delaware River) Bridge and Barnes Foundation Museum projects, among others. In 1928, Riaboff exhibited his European travel paintings at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, at Columbia University in New York, and at what was then the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. In 1932, Riaboff moved to New York, where he became a designer in the office of Alfred Easton Poor and taught architecture at New York University until 1942. Between 1944 and 1950, Riaboff was a designer for the firm of York & Sawer, and then returned to Poor's office as an associate.

Riaboff lived in an elite Russian immigrant community in Sea Cliff, New York, on Long Island, among such fellow émigrés as the widow of Russian singer Feodor Chaliapin and the ballerina Irina Baronova.

Written by Emily T. Cooperman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • T-Square Club

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New York University


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