WILLIAM MC LAM
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Lam, William MC
Age 87, of Cambridge MA died on April 6th in his sleep at home. Bill Lam is survived by his wife of 58 years Dianne Jones Lam, sons John Lam his wife Luanne Stiles of CT and Kwai Lam of CA; and granddaughter Sylvie Lam of MA. He is also survived by a brother Dr. Fred Lam Jr. of HI, sister Genevieve Fraiman of VA, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. Bill was born in Honolulu, HI in 1924, son of Dr. Fred Lam and Ah Chin Loo. Bill Lam graduated from Punahou School in 1941 and received a BA in Architecture from MIT in 1949. His studies at MIT were interrupted by service in the Army Air Corps as a B-25 co-pilot. After graduation he formed Lam Workshop, which manufactured furniture and lights of his own design, one of which was included in a traveling exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art. In 1951 the business became Lam Inc (Wakefield MA) and focused on manufacturing architectural lighting fixtures. The company is now a division of Phillips. In 1959 Bill Lam changed his role from designer/manufacturer to consultant to architects. He was a pioneer in the integration of lighting-, day-lighting-, and building systems. He quickly coined the slogan "Lighting by Design, Not Engineering." Bill's goal was buildings that were comfortable, functional and sustainable. He was active in creating standards and guidelines, such as 'An Approach To The Design Of The Luminous Environment', for State University Construction Fund of New York (1976). His firm: William Lam Associates, consulted/collaborated with architects, urban planners and governments on more than 2000 projects of many types on several continents. A notable early project was the design of the Washington Metro subway system. Key to the collaborations were an innovative team-design process, where lighting, structural, mechanical and architectural aspects were coordinated from the beginning of design. The firm became Lam Partners in 1980 as his associates took on larger roles. Lam Partners continues as an active and thriving consultancy. Bill 'retired' to solo practice in 1985. In 2000 the American Institute of Architects honored Bill Lam with the Institute Honor for Collaborative achievement. Quoting from the award: "Sought nationally and internationally by the world's leading designers, his lighting completes rather than competes with architecture, supporting his strong conviction that the best lighting results the integration of all design elements through team collaboration." Bill influenced the emerging field of lighting design through teaching generations of students at Harvard, MIT and elsewhere. His articles and books were also influential. His first book Perception and Lighting as Form Giver for Architecture, serves as both a manual for architects, lighting designers and planners and also a manifesto advocating comfort over numbers. A later book, Sunlighting as Formgiver for Architecture, advocated natural lighting, energy efficiency and solar architecture. In 2001 Architectural Lighting Magazine chose Bill as one of their 6 inaugural "Living Legends" saying: "A pioneer in the field of lighting design and consultation, Lam enjoyed a career spanning more than 50 years as a designer, consultant to architects, teacher and author." Bill had many pleasures in his life: tennis, early music, travel, opera and exquisite food. Services will be private. A memorial celebration will be held on May 14th, 2pm at the MIT Chapel, 48 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA, 02139. Donations may be made to Boston Baroque or a charity of your choice.


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Published in Boston Globe from Apr. 11 to Apr. 12, 2012.
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Memories & Condolences
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7 entries
May 13, 2012
I had the good fortune and pleasure to have Bill Lam personally work with me in my early days as a Lighting Manufacturer's Representative in Philadelphia. I will never forget having Lunch with Bill and Louis Kahn. He was one of the first Lighting people to give more emphasis to the Quality of Lighting than to Quantity. That has influenced me throughout my career and I am forever grateful to him for that. He will be greatly missed, but not forgotten.
Hans K. Rosenthal
Glendale AZ
Hans K Rosenthal
April 16, 2012
Bill Lam was an intelligent influence in the lighting design profession. Thank you for sharing your passion and dedication to quality lighting.
Doreen LeMay Madden
April 15, 2012
Thanks for everything you gave me and all the others you came in contact with, professionally and personally. Wherever you may be now, I wish for you that the lighting is good (and I know if it isn't, you'll find a way to improve it!)

Thanks also for the community of friends and passionate lighting designers you created. We will all miss you!
Chris Ripman
April 13, 2012
A sad passing of an Architectural Lighting genius.

Bill had many talents obviously, but for me personally, his native ability to think beyond traditional boundaries and to communicate those thoughts through teaching and writing, expanded his art immeasurably. As a young designer at an engineering firm charged with managing the mundane, back of house lights while his vision directed the design, he was always kind and willing to talk and teach. Aside from his genius, he was a lovely man. I feel privileged to have met him.
JoAnne Lindsley
April 13, 2012
Bill created a cultural revolution for coordination of lighting with architecture. He influenced my life, as he did for so many, through his work and teaching. Over the last 41 years, there was not a month that went by without a call from Bill. It was always about a new vision for a product and new insight for resolving something yet designed. Bill, your legacy lives on with all the designers that you have influenced,

I will miss you, thank you for all that you have shared and for your friendship. God Bless...

Paul Chabot ..
Paul Chabot
April 12, 2012
Rest in peace. You'll truly be missed.
Geoffrey Kavulya
April 12, 2012
I am so sorry to read about Bill's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Lynne Jones
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