Professor emeritus of architecture and dean emeritus Mark Charles Engelbrecht, FAIA, 83, of Des Moines, died Thursday, Dec. 30. See Des Moines Register obituary

Engelbrecht received a bachelor of architecture from Iowa State in 1963 and a master of architecture from Columbia University in 1964. As a professional architect, he served as a principal in four Des Moines architecture firms between 1966 and 1979: John Stephens Rice Architect, Hunter Rice & Engelbrecht, Engelbrecht/Rice and finally, Engelbrecht Rice & Griffin. From 1979–2000, he was principal of Engelbrecht & Griffin, PC, Des Moines and Newburyport, Massachusetts, a firm focused primarily on comprehensive environments for seniors.

He designed Northcrest Retirement Community in Ames; The Barbican, an 11-story residential tower on Grand Avenue in Des Moines, where he resided for 40 years; and the West Bank building on 22nd Street in West Des Moines. He is best known for designing the University of Northern Iowa’s Maucker Union, which earned national honors when it was built in 1968 and was named one of Iowa’s top 50 buildings of the 20th century by AIA Iowa.

Engelbrecht joined the Iowa State architecture faculty in 1969, holding visiting, temporary and adjunct positions until 1984, when he became a professor. He served as dean of the College of Design from 1994–2009. During this administrative tenure he oversaw development of the college’s Core Design Program, uniting all first-year students in a common curriculum; establishment of the Rome Program as a fully licensed branch of Iowa State University in Italy, which has hosted more than 2,500 design students since 1991; and successful fundraising efforts to construct the 250-seat Kocimski Auditorium and the LEED Platinum-certified King Pavilion additions to the college.

After stepping down as dean in June 2009 (see Inside Iowa State feature story), Engelbrecht returned to teaching part time, and retired from Iowa State in May 2014.

He was elevated to the national American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 1998. He received the inaugural AIA Iowa Educator Award in 1996, AIA Iowa Medal of Honor in 2006, Order of the Knoll Faculty-Staff Award from the Iowa State University Foundation in 2009 and Christian Petersen Design Award from the College of Design in 2010.


Online condolences may be submitted to Iles Funeral Homes Dunn’s Chapel. Memorials may be directed to the Iowa State University Foundation, 2505 University Blvd., PO Box 2230, Ames, IA 50010-2230, with a note specifying the Mark C. Engelbrecht Architecture Rome Scholarship.

Celebration of Life

A public Celebration of Life will be from 4–6 p.m. Friday, April 1, in the Lyle and Anne Lightfoot Forum (atrium) of the College of Design. A brief program will be followed by an informal opportunity for colleagues, alumni and friends to share personal anecdotes and tributes. Refreshments will be served.

The College of Design has also created an online memorial page where alumni, colleagues and friends may share photos, anecdotes and memories.