IALD Newsroom

Claude R. Engle III, 1938 - 2023

It is with profound sadness and deep reverence that we announce that Claude R. Engle III, a luminary in the field of lighting design and a dedicated co-founder and fellow of the IALD, passed away peacefully at the age of 85 on 3 December 2023 in Ottawa, Canada.

Claude left an indelible mark on the world of illumination, transforming spaces and enriching experiences through his visionary contributions to the field. As a co-founder of the IALD, Claude played a pivotal role in shaping the organization as it stands today, fostering collaboration and innovation among lighting designers worldwide. His unwavering commitment to excellence and his relentless pursuit of pushing the boundaries of lighting design set a standard that continues to inspire professionals in the industry.

Born on 30 March 1938 in Washington, DC to Claude and Ruth Engle, Claude as a youngster loved magic, model building, car racing, and theatre. He graduated from Landon School and went on to Princeton University's Engineering School, designing lighting for the Triangle Club and the Savoyards. After graduating in 1960, Claude moved to New York City to work as a theatrical and television lighting designer for Stanley McCandless and Edward Kook at Century Lighting. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1962 and designed lighting for military film production.

In 1963, he returned to the District of Columbia to work for his father’s firm, General Engineering. It was during this time that Claude helped found the IALD with nine other pioneering lighting designers. Through his wife Margaret, he met Bruce Graham, a partner of SOM Chicago, who hired him to design the lighting for the Sears Tower, Hancock Tower, and many other exemplary sites. He soon met lighting master Edison Price and started working with Minoru Yamasaki with whom he designed the lighting for the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center. Claude went on to collaborate with Philip Johnson, I.M. Pei, Harry Seidler, Arthur Erickson, Norman Foster, Rafael Viñoly, and Craig Hartman on numerous iconic buildings around the world.

Claude opened his own studio in 1967 with John Wood. George Sexton later joined to work on the High Museum and the Sainsbury Museum in England. Claude and John worked together for two decades on all of Philip Johnson’s architectural projects, and SOM projects including the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California.

Other talents who passed through the doors of Claude R. Engle, Lighting Consultant were Michael Johnson, John Coventry, Charles Stone, Scott Watson, Debra Gilmore, and Jean Sundin.

In Washington, Claude designed the lighting for the East Wing Gallery, the Canadian Chancery, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, and City Center DC, among many more projects.

In 1981, Claude married Canadian architect Danielle David, with whom he also worked to design the lighting for the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong, the Louvre in Paris, the Reichstag in Berlin, the Tokyo Forum, and many other famed sites.

Claude is survived by his son, with whom he began working in 1996. Together they designed the lighting for the Kimmel Arts Center, the World Trade Center, Winspear Opera House, the McLaren Headquarters, and the Wembley Stadium Arch, among numerous additional projects.

The IALD warmly received Claude into the College of Fellows in 2014, recognized for his valuable contributions to the art and science of lighting design and vastly demonstrated service to the Association. A career spanning over half a century also earned him the IALD International Lighting Design Award of Excellence, the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, and countless other accolades.

As we bid farewell to a visionary leader and a cherished colleague, we remember Claude for his incredible work on countless famed projects, his boundless creativity, and his enduring spirit. 

The lighting design community has lost a guiding light, but the legacy of Claude R. Engle III and his brilliance will continue to shine brightly through the work of those he inspired and the spaces he transformed.

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