Obituary: Herbert Seigle / Noted lover of design cared for people more than anything
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Herb Seigle, whose impeccable taste and contemporary designs for comfortable living left its mark on dozens of Western Pennsylvania homes, elegant Manhattan co-ops and large Nantucket Island cottages, died of complications from a stroke Friday at his wife's home in Squirrel Hill. He was 89.
He also designed the interior of a yacht in Florida that later took center stage in a political scandal that forced former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart to pull out of the 1988 presidential election.
Mr. Seigle's boundless energy and warmth so endeared him to clients that he became the architect for three generations of one family. William Rudolph, a principal in McKnight Realty Partners, was 6 years old when he first met the man who would become a close friend. Mr. Seigle designed McKnight Lanes in the North Hills for Mr. Rudolph's parents.
"He was an irreplaceable friend," Mr. Rudolph said, adding that for Mr. Seigle, relationships with friends and family were primary while architecture "was a medium for him to get to know people."
Decades later, Mr. Rudolph asked him to design McKnight Realty's office in Downtown's Grant Building and his two Squirrel Hill homes. Mr. Seigle also designed residences for each of Mr. Rudolph's three children.
Mr. Seigle, who grew up in McKeesport and lived in Swissvale, studied architecture at Yale, where he earned his degree in 1950. After graduation he worked for about a year in the Manhattan office of Philip Johnson, the architect who would later design PPG Place, Downtown.
Initially, Mr. Seigle had a solo practice. He met fellow architect Don Solow in 1966, the two began collaborating on projects in 1970, and in 1976, they became partners. Stuart Horne joined the firm in 1978, creating Seigle, Solow and Horne in Shadyside.
While his work was primarily commercial, Mr. Seigle designed The Winchester, a distinctive residential building with a green tile exterior on Neville Street in Oakland. He also created a row of modern homes on California Avenue in White Oak, Mr. Horne said.
At a resort called Turnberry Isle in Aventura, Fla., northeast of Miami, Mr. Seigle designed apartments, a hotel, a yacht club and the interiors of the yachts "Miss Turnberry" and "Monkey Business."
The second boat became infamous in June 1987 after The National Enquirer published a photograph of Sen. Hart of Colorado, then a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, wearing a T-shirt that said "Monkey Business Crew." His girlfriend, a 29-year-old model named Donna Rice, was sitting on his lap in the photo. Soon after media outlets reported that Sen. Hart spent a night aboard the yacht in Bimini with Ms. Rice, he withdrew from the race.
Attorney Roslyn Litman and her husband, David, were traveling companions to Mr. Seigle in India for three years in a row.
"He always found the most intriguing, out-of-the-way places where there was usually some great beauty that represented the art and work of the people in the countries where we visited," Ms. Litman said.
Accompanied by his wife, Robin, Mr. Seigle also traveled to Nepal, Thailand, Burma, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The couple visited Ethiopia in January.
Last December, Mr. Seigle and Mr. Horne traveled to New York to design renovations for clients who owned co-ops.
"I'd pick him up at his apartment at 4:30 a.m. We'd take a 6:30 a.m. flight and work a full day. We went to the theater. You never thought of Herb as 89 years old."
Mr. Seigle is survived by his wife. Visitation is at 11:30 a.m. today in Ralph Schugar Chapel, Shadyside, followed by a service at 1 p.m. Interment will follow in Homewood Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania, 6620 Hamilton Ave., Pittsburgh 15206 or Friendship Circle, 5872 Northumberland St., Pittsburgh 15217.
First Published March 17, 2013 12:00 am