Don and Sally Kubly

Don and Sally Kubly stand outside their Pasadena home designed by Craig Ellwood Associates, the firm the Kublys commissioned to design ArtCenter’s Hillside Campus.

The Pasadena community is mourning the loss of ArtCenter alumna and former staff member Sally Kubly. 

Raised in Pasadena and Playa Del Rey, Sally attended ArtCenter when the school was on Seventh Street in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. She graduated from the advertising program in 1948. During her time at the college, she met and married fellow student Don Kubly.

The two moved to Philadelphia, where she worked as the assistant art editor of Ladies Home Journal, Kubly returned to California in the early 1960s with her husband and joined the Pasadena Art Alliance, a philanthropic organization that supports ArtCenter.

Don, who died in 2011, served as ArtCenter president from 1969 to 1985. Sally served as art director for numerous ArtCenter publications between 1975 and 1981, including a catalog that won a New York Art Directors’ Award.

The ArtCenter catalogs, now called viewbooks, are made for prospective students and showcase the work of ArtCenter students as well as provide key information about the college. 

The couple had a profound impact on ArtCenter’s physical presence as they orchestrated the construction of the school’s Hillside Campus, according to Robert Dirig, the ArtCenter director of archives and special collections. 

“At that point, ArtCenter was still on Third Street in Los Angeles and was quickly outgrowing its space,” Dirig said. “We were admitting more students, so the idea was that we needed to move to a new campus.”

After scouting locations in and around Pasadena, the Kublys purchased the land now known as the Hillside Campus and commissioned Craig Ellwood Associates, the firm that designed their Pasadena home in the ’60s, to design ArtCenter. The Hillside Campus opened in 1976 and was named a local historic landmark in 2005.

“It was a big project, and it was within budget, which was something Don was adamant about,” Dirig explained. “It became a big part of Pasadena and a part of their legacy. It’s what people think of ArtCenter today, this iconic bridge and the way it was made for ArtCenter and ArtCenter students. We have architecture students from other schools that contact us to find out more information about that building and the construction of it, so it goes beyond just our own little ArtCenter community.”

Sally was also known for the Kubly Family Endowed Scholarship, which has supported at least one student each year from any discipline since 2009. 

“She was just incredibly gracious, kind, humble and down to earth,” Dirig said. “She was really one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and was clearly proud of her work.”


Photo credit: Copyright jointly held by photographer Steven A. Heller and ArtCenter College of Design (Pasadena).