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August 22, 2002

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Arthur Loeb, leader in design, dies at 79

Arthur Lee Loeb, a senior lecturer and honorary associate in the Department of Visual and Environmental studies, died July 19 at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He was 79.

A former master of Dudley House, Loeb was an internationally renowned leader in the field of design science. Throughout his career, he successfully combined the worlds of science and art, devising a language of spatial patterns that he described as "Visual Mathematics."

Arthur Loeb
Arthur Lee Loeb

Loeb arrived in America in 1940 after fleeing his native Holland on the first day of the Nazi occupation. He was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 20 and went on to earn his Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard in 1949. His scientific career began while working on the Whirlwind computer project, in which scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) struggled to develop "core memory" for the next generation of computers. It was at M.I.T. that Loeb began to articulate a language of spatial patterns that became the central focus of his career, leading to lifelong collaborations with such innovators as R. Buckminster Fuller and M.C. Escher.

Loeb's publications include "The Electrical Double Layer Around Lyophobic Colloid Particles" (1961, with Overbeek and Wiersema), "Introduction to Wave Mechanics" (1963, with Harris), "Color and Symmetry" (1971, with Krieger), "Space Structures" (1991, with Birkhauser), "Concepts and Images" (1992, with Birkhauser), and contributions to Gyorgy Kepes' "Vision and Value" series (1965-66), Fuller's "Synergetics" (1975), Istvan Hargittai's "Symmetry" (2000), and Clifford Pickover's "Future of Fractals" (1996). Loeb's articles have appeared in Acta Crystallographica, Leonardo, and the Physical Review, among others. His watercolors, sculptures, and designs have been widely exhibited.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Loeb's name to the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, c/o the University Lutheran Church, 66 Winthrop St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

Copyright 2002 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College