On the evening of April 1, 2004, when the IALD was presenting its 21st Annual IALD Awards in conjunction with Lightfair in Las Vegas, an IALD pioneer passed away: Ms. Lesley Wheel.
It is interesting to note that one of her most prominent "students," Babu Shankar, was at the very time accepting an award of appreciation from IALD President Charles G. Stone for his outstanding volunteer achievements as IALD Awards Co-Chair for several years. Over the next month, we will publish more extensive information about this hugely important person in the lighting design profession, but in the meantime, we thought we would share some material that was published in the past about her:
Here are some of Ms. Wheel's contributions as described by former president JoAnne Lindsley, FIALD, in a 1999 IALD Reflections newsletter:
Early in 1969, a small group of lighting designers gathered informally. The first meeting was at the home of Richard Kelly. They met occasionally in Manhattan restaurants where the full group could fit into one booth. Lesley Wheel had some interesting stories about membership criteria in those days. Most of those assembled were IES members, but they banded together to recognize their unique position as independent lighting designers whose sole means of support was design fees. A new group, they believed, could create an understanding of the importance and benefit of their independence among potential clients. And incidentally, they believed they could obtain group insurance benefits.
From her Lifetime Achievement Award, which she was presented (along with Mr. Don Gersztoff, FIALD), in 1999 by then IALD President Phil Gabriel at the 16th Annual IALD Lighting Design Awards in San Francisco:
With over 30 years of experience each in the industry, Ms. Wheel and Mr. Gersztoff have played important roles in shaping the practice of lighting design and the IALD. Their participation in the IALD, which they helped to found, shaped the association into the influential organization it is today.
Ms. Wheel began her long career in theatre design in the 1950s, eventually specializing in the lighting arena. In 1957, she joined the staff of Hilton Hotels Corporation as an in-house lighting consultant. From there, Ms. Wheel opened her own lighting design practice in 1958. Mr. Gersztoff and Ms. Wheel began their partnership in 1977 with the formation of the firm Wheel- Gersztoff Associates Inc. As partners, they worked on countless projects over the decades from corporate offices to theatres. Their specialty and strength was their work in the hotel and hospitality industry.
From current IALD President Charles G. Stone:
"The IALD is so deeply saddened by the loss of this formidable figure in the lighting design industry."
For more information go towww.iald.org.