Howard Brandston Biography

Howard Brandston, the Lighting Consultant

Howard Brandston grew up in the theatre, acting or designing productions since his kindergarten years. The theatre helped shape his vision for lighting and a lifetime of contributions to the worlds of lighting and design. Mr. Brandston’s first job out of college was with Stanley McCandless – the godfather of lighting at that time. In 1965, he founded his own lighting design consulting firm that became the New York City-based Brandston Partnership Inc. During Mr. Brandston’s tenure, the firm completed more than 2,500 projects in 60 countries, including the relighting of  The Statue of Liberty and the lighting of The Petronas Towers in Malaysia.


Mr. Brandston is one of only four individuals to have received every major award given by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) in its over one hundred year history. In 1999, he received the IES MEDAL, the Society’s highest honor. Having been appointed the Society’s first leader of Design and Application, he also served as president. Other notable awards include the INSTITUTE HONORS in 1999 from The American Institute of Architects (AIA) for his contributions to architecture, and being designated an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Society of Light and Lighting, an honor limited to 25 living persons. Mr. Brandston also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Lighting Designers and is the sole lighting designer in the Interior Design Hall of Fame. In 2014, he received the United States Institute of Theater Technology Distinguished Achievement in Lighting Award. In his sixty year career, Mr. Brandston has received more than one hundred design awards.

Public Policy

During the 1970’s Energy Crisis, Mr. Brandston was appointed to represent the IES on the Federal Architectural Engineering Energy Commission. His contribution was the mathematical equation used to set the upper power limit for lighting for our country’s first energy code. Mr. Brandston was also appointed to NY State’s first Energy Advisory Council to address energy and lighting related issues.

More recently, Mr. Brandston has defended the incandescent light bulb, opposing its defacto ban. His tests and opinions have been published worldwide. In 2008, he was invited to testify before the US Senate which supported Congress to withhold funding for the enforcement of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.


Working in the spirit of project collaboration is the hallmark of Mr. Brandston’s work. Collaborations with Artists to bring light to their works include Roy Lichtenstein, Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Isamu Naguchi, Mary Miss, and Dan George, among others.

Notable collaborations in the Healthcare field include years of work developing ultraviolet light applications to control the spread of disease. Working with St. Vincent’s Hospital in NYC, significant progress was made on the control and spread of Tuberculosis. Working with research teams from St. Vincent’s and the Harvard School of Public Health, the Anthrax threat was eliminated in Washington DC. Mr. Brandston is currently engaged with Harvard and Mt. Sinai in NYC to develop a new UV germicidal projector to control Tuberculosis in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Howard’s passion is education. For more than 50 years, he has been an Adjunct Professor, guest lecturer and visiting professor at multiple universities around the world. In 1981, he founded the Workshop for Teachers of Lighting, an IES program that continues to educate teachers today. He also founded the Ad Hoc Committee of Lighting Funding Research Organizations which led to the establishment of the Lighting Research Center at RPI. Howard funds in perpetuity The Brandston Grant, an international design competition administered by the IES. He is a former holder of the Feltman Chair in lighting at Cooper Union, and recently established The Howard M. Brandston Award in Lighting at Brooklyn College.


Howard’s projects, research, and articles have appeared in more than seventy publications worldwide. The AIA selected him to write the lighting design services section in The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice.

With the inspiration that design concepts were lacking in lighting literature, Howard wrote Learning to See, A Matter of Light, a short textbook encouraging lighting designers to take a holistic view. Since its 2008 publication, the book has received international acclaim and was also published in Portuguese.

FIES          Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
Hon. FCIBSE   Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
Hon. FSLL     Society of Light and Lighting
FIALD         International Association of Lighting Designers
LC            Lighting Certified