Obituary: Gary Kelly Carlough / Innovative architect, teacher left mark on Pittsburgh’s landscape

March 17, 1952 - June 29, 2014


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It will be hard for Pitts­bur­ghers to for­get Gary Car­lough, es­pe­cially those who ride the T. After all, he helped with the de­sign of the Gate­way Center Light Rail Sta­tion.

Mr. Car­lough, an in­no­va­tive force in Pitts­burgh ar­chi­tec­ture since co-found­ing EDGE Stu­dio in 1995, died Sun­day at his Fox Chapel home. He was 62. A cause of death had not been determined. The family was awaiting the results of an autopsy, according to Mr. Carlough's wife, Anne Chen.

“He brought new ideas with a sen­si­tiv­ity to the his­tor­i­cal con­text and the com­mu­nity at large,” said Anne-Marie Lubenau, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Com­mu­nity De­sign Center of Pitts­burgh.

The Gate­way Center sta­tion, which was done in part­ner­ship with Pfaff­mann & As­so­ci­ates, was just one of Mr. Car­lough’‍s de­signs. He also worked on ad­di­tions and ren­o­va­tions for the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh’s Swan­son School of Engi­neer­ing, Car­ne­gie Mel­lon Univer­sity, the Car­ne­gie Mu­se­ums and the Car­ne­gie Li­brary of Pitts­burgh.

“One of the proj­ects he was re­ally ex­cited about that is cur­rently on­go­ing was an ad­di­tion to Ham­burg Hall [at CMU],” Ms. Chen, said.

Ms. Lubenau said Mr. Car­lough was very re­spect­ful of the com­mu­nity. He worked on ren­o­va­tion proj­ects for the Penn Avenue Arts Ini­tia­tive, which EDGE was in the heart of. “I think Gary was in­flu­en­tial in the city of Pitts­burgh, bring­ing a new per­spec­tive of de­sign within a city — in neigh­bor­hoods — where that just wasn’t as prev­a­lent years ago,” she said. EDGE merged with GBBN Ar­chi­tects last year.

Mr. Car­lough, a grad­u­ate of Latrobe High School, earned a bach­e­lor’‍s de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture from the Univer­sity of Ari­zona and stud­ied at the Ar­chi­tec­tural As­so­ci­a­tion in Lon­don. “I think it shaped and it was a big part of the way he thinks about ar­chi­tec­ture, which is re­ally about the hu­man con­di­tion, en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture we live in,” his wife said.

Ms. Chen met Mr. Car­lough in 1995 when she came to work for EDGE. They were mar­ried in 2003. “When I worked with him I was ba­si­cally the first full-time em­ployee. We be­came friends. We would work to­gether, go to din­ner and talk. I just re­ally en­joyed be­ing with him,” she said.

A mem­ber of Pitts­burgh’‍s Art Com­mis­sion, Mr. Car­lough served on the board of Quan­tum Theater and the de­sign com­mit­tee of the Pitts­burgh Cul­tural Trust. He was an ad­junct pro­fes­sor of ar­chi­tec­ture at CMU for more than two de­cades.

“Some peo­ple are able to con­nect with stu­dents, and he is one of those peo­ple,” Ms. Chen said. “A num­ber of his stu­dents ac­tu­ally came to work for us, and they’re just re­ally valu­able peo­ple.”

Aviva Rubin, an ex­hi­bi­tion de­signer at the Gug­gen­heim in New York, was Mr. Car­lough’‍s stu­dent from 2005 to 2007. She re­mem­bers him as an easy­go­ing in­tel­lec­tual who would keep in touch with her through email.

“He was this un­be­liev­able teacher, fig­ure and men­tor [who] re­ally in­spired me and a lot of other stu­dents,” Ms. Rubin said. “He was so rooted in the pro­fes­sional world, yet still had this dreamer side of him that wanted to change the world with ar­chi­tec­ture and still be­lieved that we could. He changed my per­spec­tive on what ar­chi­tec­ture could be and made me fall in love with it.”

Rebecca Henn, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of ar­chi­tec­ture at Penn State Univer­sity, was an­other CMU stu­dent. She said Mr. Car­lough in­spired her to con­tinue with ar­chi­tec­ture.

“With­out Gary, I wouldn’t have stayed in this pro­fes­sion for an­other se­mes­ter, let alone 26 more years,” she wrote in a state­ment. “Any­time I think that I might not make much of an im­pact on my own stu­dents, I re­mem­ber how much Gary means to me and know that one pro­fes­sor can make ‘‍the’‍ dif­fer­ence.”

Mr. Car­lough and Ms. Chen re­cently de­signed their house in Fox Chapel, which Ms. Chen said is smaller than their pre­vi­ous one in Friend­ship. “It’s go­ing to be so empty with­out him,” she said.

Mr. Car­lough also is sur­vived by sons Todd Car­lough of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Hall Car­lough of New York City and Xing Car­lough of Fox Chapel; and sis­ters Amy We­ick­ert of Fre­mont, Sny­der County, and Kelly Flem­ing of Green­ville.

There will be a cel­e­bra­tion of Mr. Car­lough’‍s life at 1 p.m. to­day at the Pitts­burgh Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion in Oak­land. His in­ter­ment will be pri­vate.


Madasyn Cze­bi­n­iak: mc­ze­bi­n­iak@post-ga­zette.com, 412-263-1269.


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