Mark Engelbrecht Obituary

Self Portrait
Mark C. Engelbrecht
Mark Charles Engelbrecht

December 28, 1938 - December 30, 2021
Born in Nevada, Iowa
Resided in West Des Moines, Iowa
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Mark Charles Engelbrecht, FAIA, Dean Emeritus and Professor of the College of Design at Iowa State University died on the 30th of December 2021 in Des Moines, IA. Engelbrecht, born December 28th, 1938, in Nevada, IA, earned his Bachelor’s of Architecture degree at Iowa State in 1963 and his Master’s of Architecture degree at Columbia University in 1964.

He is survived by his daughter, Sara Jensen, her husband, Darin Jensen, and their children Lindsey, Ian, and Maxwell, by his stepdaughter Heidi Bullinga, her husband, Robert Feldstein, and their children, Sierra and Soren, and his son-in-law, Michael Hoffman. His daughter, Anna Hoffman, preceded Mark in death.

Mark’s career focused on community as both an architect and educator. He joined the Iowa State architecture faculty in 1979 and served as dean of the college from 1994 to 2009. As dean, he oversaw development of the Core Design Program which integrated community-based projects into studio instruction and established college outreach centers in Perry and Sioux City, IA. He oversaw efforts to fund and construct the Kocimski Auditorium and the King Pavilion—a space dedicated to collaboration.

Internationally, Mark developed the design college's Rome Program into a fully licensed branch of Iowa State University in Italy, which has hosted more than 1,800 design students since 1991. Further, he brought to fruition an agreement with China's Lanzhou Jiaotong Technical University to allow Chinese transfer students to earn ISU design degrees. In 1996 Mark Engelbrecht received the FAIA Education Award, which recognizes an Iowa educator within or outside the profession for his outstanding leadership and contributions to architectural education in Iowa.

Mark was a passionate professor of design—often a man of few words in his critiques, but enough so that students understood the high expectations for design excellence. He asked questions, never provided answers, challenging students to work out problems. He included assignments for students where they had to connect problems in the New York Times to design solutions or read The Stranger by Camus. He believed it impossible to be a capable and inspired designer without a broader understanding of the world and human nature.

Throughout his career, Mark was a wise mentor for students and professionals. As his family sent word of his imminent passing, they received notes emphasizing his role in professional and personal lives from around the world. The writers stressed his half century of guidance and example. Mark helped generations become clear thinkers who are civic- and community-minded; he shaped not only insightful designers, but thoughtful engaged people. He exemplified what it meant to challenge and nurture students, colleagues, and friends.

Mark Engelbrecht was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He served on the ISU Foundation Board of Governors and as a trustee of the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames. He is a former member and chair of the Des Moines Planning and Zoning Commission. He has received numerous awards for personal and professional achievement, including the AIA Iowa Medal of Honor in 2008, the ISU Order of the Knoll Faculty-Staff Award in 2009, and the Christian Petersen Design Award in 2010.

From 1967 to 2000, Mark was principal in Engelbrecht and Griffin, P.C. of Des Moines, IA and
Newberryport, MA. The firm focused on comprehensive environments for seniors and designed projects in nearly 30 states. Nine of these projects won National Association of Homebuilders top awards.

Notably, Mark Engelbrecht designed the Northcrest Retirement Community in Ames; The Barbican, a two-tower condominium building on Grand Avenue in Des Moines where he resided for forty years; and the West Bank building on 22nd street in Des Moines. He is perhaps best known for the University of Northern Iowa Maucker’s Union, which earned national honors when it was built in 1968. In 2000, the building was named one of the top 50 buildings of the 20th century in Iowa by the AIA.

The high quality of design and design education in Iowa has been molded and influenced by Mark Engelbrecht’s half century of dedicated and thoughtful work. 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. Mark loved reading the Romans and was particularly fond of Cicero who wrote, “nor do I regret that I have lived, since I have so lived that I think I was not born in vain.” Mark exemplified this axiom in a life well lived.





Funeral Home
Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA US 50312


Mark C. Engelbrecht Architecture Rome Scholarship
2505 University Blvd PO Box 2230
Ames, Iowa USA 50010-2230
Memorials may be sent to the Iowa State University foundation with a note specifying the Mark C. Engelbrecht Architecture Rome Scholarship at 2505 University Blvd / P.O. Box 2230 / Ames, IA 50010-2230