Werner Gumpertz, co-founder of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH), died on Friday, 1 December 2017. Gumpertz, with Howard Simpson and Frank Heger, established SGH in 1956. He brought to SGH his interests in consulting and teaching, dealing primarily with building materials, systems, and construction. Gumpertz founded the firm’s Building Technology Group and led it from 1956 to 1993. He never retired and stayed active in the firm’s business.
Considered a pioneer of the modern practice of building technology, Gumpertz leaves a legacy of engineering excellence, learning and collaboration, and mentoring young engineers. His philosophy was to build creative and enterprising teams, combining seasoned experts with young, bright students. “The lessons he taught us throughout his career – to apply scientific rigor and exacting standards to everything we do, to commit to a lifetime of continued learning, and to never take yourself too seriously – are as relevant now as they were when he founded our firm,” said Niklas Vigener, SGH Senior Principal and Head of Building Technology. “Werner’s leadership, vision, and personality helped shape SGH for more than sixty years; and his example will continue to guide us into the future.”
Gumpertz earned the equivalent of a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He also earned an S.B. in Civil Engineering, an S.M. in Building Engineering and Construction, and an Advanced Professional Degree of Building Engineer, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Among his many professional accomplishments, Gumpertz received the 1987 ASTM International Walter C. Voss Award for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of building technology. He also won the 1968 Honor Award for Design in Urban Transportation from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the 1986 Award of Merit from the American Society of Testing and Materials for leadership, commitment, and innovation in the promotion of engineering standards for roofing material and systems. In 2003, the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section named Gumpertz an Honorary Member for attaining acknowledged eminence in his field of endeavor.