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In Memoriam: Howard Brandston

Lighting&Sound America has learned of the death of architectural lighting designer Howard Brandston on February 24. The cause was Alzheimer's disease. He was 87. A 1957 graduate of Brooklyn College, where he was involved in theatre, he originally worked at Century Lighting, the supplier of theatrical gear; while there, he met the designer Stanley McCandless, collaborating with him on architectural fixture. In 1966, he founded H.M. Brandston & Partners, one of the first architectural lighting rims. (It is now known as Brandston Partnership, or BPI.)

After a slow start, Brandston was approached by lighting manufacturer Kurt Versen to design the optics for a new line of fixtures. Working on this project, Brandston met graphic designer Rudy deHerak, with whom he collaborated on the Canadian Pavilion at the 1967 Montreal Expo, the American Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka, and many other projects.

Brandston's company subsequently designed the American Airlines Terminal at Love Field in Dallas with Henry Dreyfuss; numerous Hiltons and other hotels; educational buildings at SUNY, Yale, Washington University, Columbia University, and Princeton; projects for the American Museum of Natural History; subway stations in New York City and Boston; master lighting plans for several universities, Denver's 16th Street Mall, New York's Battery Park City, Dallas' Arts District, and the City of Detroit; iconic retail locations like the original Barney's on Seventh Avenue and one of the many incarnations of Macy's ground floor of the flagship store on 34th Street; sports facilities such as the Meadowlands; the Louisiana State Capitol; courthouses around the country; and, of course, the project for which he will always be remembered: the relighting of the Statue of Liberty.

Brandston also taught at several universities, and helped found the lighting program at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His Howard Brandston Student Lighting Design Competition has proved very popular and continues to this day.

Brandston was also a founder of the International Association of Lighting Designers. In a statement, the IALD said, "To refer to Howard as an icon in the lighting design profession only begins to touch upon his impact and importance. He is warmly remembered and revered, and the IALD community worldwide owes him immense thanks for his talent, care, and contribution over a lifetime of fantastic achievement. In his words, 'The passion of this group came from the love of doing the work'."

Brandston is survived by his wife of 35 years Melanie (Manning); his brother Andrew; and his children Perry, Lori, Sarah, and Raj; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held in New York City in the spring.

(28 February 2023)

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