Bill Gruen, a noted architectural lighting engineer and long-time SCI-Arc trustee passed away on Sunday, July 14 at his home in Northridge, Calif. He was 96 years old. Gruen was a lifelong fan of architecture and collaborated with a number of noted architects and interior designers to create customized fixtures and effects. He joined the SCI-Arc board of trustees in 2002, and in 2010, he established the Bill Gruen Endowed Fund.
Director Eric Owen Moss remembers Gruen’s profound passion and commitment to the school. "SCI-Arc grew from Bill’s belief in our capacity to successfully re-invent our pro forma. We thank him for his enduring confidence in SCI-Arc when confidence was not to be taken for granted, his proffer of a fiscal hand, especially in the tough times when there weren’t many such offers, and for his undying enthusiasm for the on-going architecture adventure here at SCI-Arc. Bill Gruen—we miss you."
Gruen spent his career working closely with architects and designers. After studying electrical engineering at New York University, he got his start at General Lighting Company in New York, where he worked with designers including Louis Danziger and Ladislav Sutnar. His cousin Victor Gruen—widely recognized as the inventor of the modern shopping mall—inspired him to move west in 1941, with the plan to expand his practice and engage with the growing modern design community of Southern California. In 1946, he and his wife Elaine founded Gruen Lighting, which soon became a trusted source in modern lighting.
For Gruen, the favorite thing about working with SCI-Arc was being able to help the students. "Establishing the Bill Gruen Endowment Fund was a given for me," said Gruen when announcing his SCI-Arc pledge three years ago. "I knew I needed to do something to make sure students were able to enroll and stay enrolled in SCI-Arc. They are our future and the future of the architecture profession." Gruen was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine Gruen.