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Engelbrecht, Mark C.

Published onJul 30, 2021
Engelbrecht, Mark C.

(Dec. 28, 1938 - Dec. 30, 2021)

Quick Facts

In his 30 years of tenure, Engelbrecht served as a distinguished Professor of Architecture, Dean of the Library, and later Dean of the College of Design from 1994-2000.

Source: Iowa State University News Service

In 1963 Mark C. Engelbrecht graduated with a Bachelors in Architecture from Iowa State. He continued his architecture studies at Columbia University where he earned a Master of Architecture in 1964 and eventually returned to Iowa to co-found his own firm in 1967, Engelbrecht and Griffin PC, with offices in Des Moines and Massachusetts. The firm was in operation from 1967-2000 and earned national honors from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), of which Engelbrecht was a fellow. Concurrently in 1969, Engelbrecht joined the architecture faculty at Iowa State. In over 30 years of tenure at Iowa State, Engelbrecht served as a distinguished Professor of Architecture, Dean of the Library, and later Dean of the College of Design from 1994-2000.

Engelbrecht left an indelible mark on the College of Design where he helped develop the Core Design Program which unites all first year students in a common design curriculum. He founded the design college's Rome Program into a fully licensed branch of Iowa State University in Italy. To date the program has hosted more than 1,900 design students since 1991 and enriched the cultural perspective of architecture students at Iowa State. Continuing in his commitment to broadening the cultural horizons of Iowa State’s architecture program, Engelbrecht completed a reciprocal agreement with China’s Lanzhou Jiatong Technical University which allows Chinese transfer students to earn degrees at Iowa State. In addition to opening the Design Café, Engelbrecht oversaw the successful fundraising efforts to construct the Kocimski Auditorium and the LEED Platinum-certified King Pavilion, which now serves as a home base to all design undergraduate and graduate students.

Engelbrecht spent a great deal of time researching and writing on designed environments for seniors. Throughout the 1980’s Engelbrecht dedicated his research to understanding the possibilities of efficient and innovative design for retirement communities. He traveled widely presenting on this subject and published numerous papers on the subject of architecture for the elderly. In addition to his scholarship, Engelbrecht was a local member of the Housing Committee for the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs where his research was used to realize the importance of design in planning for the aging population in Iowa.

As Dean Emeritus, Engelbrecht was awarded the prestigious Christian Petersen Award in 2010 for his continued commitment to the art and design in Iowa, most notably evinced in his significant contributions to the College of Design at Iowa State.

Engelbrecht died on the 30th of December 2021 in Des Moines, IA. He is survived by his daughter Sara Jensen and his stepdaughter Heidi Bullinga along with grandchildren.

“Mark's life and work are a fine example of Aristotle's notion of techne—embodying both practical skill and its underlying systematic knowledge and experience. For Mark, the principles of good design and good living shared a foundation in careful thinking, deep listening, and exacting attention to detail.” (Ames Tribune, obituary, posted Jan. 1, 2022) 

Selected Sources

ISU News Service, 2010, ISU design college honors Mark Engelbrecht with the Christian Petersen Design Award, August 25th, 2010.

Mark C. Engelbrecht Papers, RS 26/2, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

Inside Iowa State, April 3, 2009, “An architect of design education”

See also DesignNotes

Obituary, Ames Tribune, posted Jan. 1, 2022.

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