Obituary: Gary Kelly Carlough / Innovative architect, teacher left mark on Pittsburgh’s landscape
March 17, 1952 - June 29, 2014
July 1, 2014 11:35 PM
By Madasyn Czebiniak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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.