William John Grabowski, a Baltimore architect who specialized in designing health care facilities, died Friday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of complications from Eisenmenger syndrome, a congenital heart defect. The North Baltimore resident was 43.
Mr. Grabowski was waiting for a heart and lung transplant at Hopkins at the time of his death.
Born in North Olmsted, Ohio, and raised in Towson, he was a 1978 graduate of Loch Raven High School and earned a degree in architecture in 1982 from the University of Virginia. In 1985, he earned a master's degree in architecture from Syracuse University.
He had worked as an architect for RTKL Associates Inc. and Ayers Saint Gross before joining Cannon Design Inc. in 2000 as a senior associate and operations officer in its Baltimore office. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based company is an international architectural and engineering firm.
"Bill became interested in health care design because he had spent so much time in doctors' offices over the years. and he was able to bring the patient's perspective to his work," said Raymond A. Moldenhauer, a principal in the firm and director of its Mid-Atlantic region. "He was meticulous and thorough, and that was one of his strengths when working on advanced technical designs. He was persistent and a problem-solver."
At Cannon Design, his work included projects at University of Maryland Medical Center, North Arundel Hospital and Boston University.
"He had also contributed to design projects at the Johns Hopkins University earlier in his career," Mr. Moldenhauer said. "While hospitalized at Hopkins, he continued to work and write about health care design."
Mr. Grabowski, whose medical condition often left him short of breath, responded with a self-deprecating sense of humor that put fellow workers at ease.
It caused him to fall behind several colleagues while walking to a meeting one day.
"He told us, 'Hey, guys, next time how about giving me a head start?'" Mr. Moldenhauer said.
When Tropical Storm Isabel flooded the company's South Exeter Street building, Mr. Grabowski was one of the first employees on the scene.
"Our elevators were out of operation, and our offices are on the fifth floor, so for five weeks he pushed himself to do the stairs and never complained," Mr. Moldenhauer said.
"I really admired Bill because he never let his illness be an excuse," said David Treece, assistant vice president at Cannon Design and a friend of 16 years. "If he had to leave the office, he still made sure that he completed his tasks. He was born with this condition and knew his limitations. He always had a positive attitude and counted every day that he had as a blessing."
Mr. Grabowski's professional memberships included the American Institute of Architects, and he had served as president and vice president of the Construction Specifications Institute's Baltimore chapter.
The former Northwood resident had been president of the Greater Northwood Covenant Association. He taught reading to city youth in the 1980s.
Mr. Grabowski enjoyed playing the piano and attending performances of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Opera Company.
He was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Surviving are his wife of 12 years, the former Elizabeth Bellamy; two children, Stephen, 5, and Eleanor, 7; his father and stepmother, Lawrence F. and Betty Grabowski of Towson; three brothers, David Grabowski of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., James Grabowski of Columbia and Alan Grabowski of Marysville, Wash.; and three sisters, Karen Wolfe of San Antonio, Jean Gisler of Victoria, Texas, and Ida Holloran of Rochester, N.Y.