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Charles H. Richter Jr., a Baltimore architect known for his modernist designs was a founder of Richter Cornbrooks Gribble, dies

Charles H. Richter Jr. was a founder of two architectural firms in Baltimore.
Charles H. Richter Jr. was a founder of two architectural firms in Baltimore.

Charles H. Richter Jr., a Baltimore architect known for his modernist commercial and residential designs, died of pneumonia Nov. 13 at Gilchrist Center in Towson. The Mercy Ridge Retirement Community resident was 99.

“Ric was a trendsetter in his day with modernism, especially in his residential work,” said Walter Schamu, president and founder of SM+P Architects. “He was a friendly, big guy who ran a tight ship and was a scion of the architectural firm of Palmer, Lamdin, Fisher, Nes, Campbell and Partners.”

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Charles Henry Richter, son of Charles H. Richter Sr., and his wife, Florence Minnick Richter, was born and raised in Baltimore.

He enlisted in 1942 in what was then the Army Air Forces, where he was trained in aerial photography interpretation and served as a technical sergeant with the 20th Photographic Intelligence Detachment at Normandy, France. He was discharged in 1945.

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After the war, he earned a degree in architecture at the Catholic University of America. After graduation in 1949, he began his career as design principal with the Baltimore architectural firm of Palmer, Lamdin, Fisher, Nes, Campbell and Partners. He became an associate of the firm in 1952 and a partner in 1958.

In 1972, he was a founder with Carson M. Cornbrooks, H. Parker Matthai and Allen C. Hopkins a new architectural firm, Richter Cornbrooks Mathai Hopkins, which was located at 22nd and North Charles streets. He later was a founder in the 1980s of the Richter Cornbrooks and Gribble firm.

Mr. Richter was associated with or was the principal designer on major commissions, including the Princeton University School of Architecture; University of Maryland School of Architecture; University of Delaware Morris Library; Peterson, Howell and Heather headquarters building in Charles Village; numerous buildings on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University; University of Baltimore Law School and the 1980s restoration of The Lyric theater.

In 1969, Maryland Properties Inc., McCormick & Co.’s real estate subsidiary, commissioned Mr. Richter to design the Hunt Valley Inn on a 15-acre tract in Cockeysville.

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“He said the McCormick interests had told him to create ‘a unique inn, and that to an architect is music. ... Architects need commissions for unique designs more than they need money,’” Mr. Richter told The Sun.

He was also an associate architect with I.M. Pei of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, who designed the Baltimore World Trade Center on East Pratt Street. The building, which is the world’s tallest regular pentagonal-based skyscraper, took four years to build and was completed in 1977.

For his house in Ruxton, he won the Mid-Atlantic American Institute Regional Honor Award in 1967, the Baltimore American Institute of Architects Award of Merit for houses built between 1962 and 1965.

Richter Cornbrooks Gribble won the 1989 AIA Baltimore chapter’s “25-Year” award for the design of his Ruxton residence which was “one of the area’s first works of modern architecture when completed in 1964,” reported The Baltimore Sun in 1989.

“His houses are noted for their balanced light; he often bases his houses on a pavilionlike design allowing natural light to pour into every room,” observed The Sun in a 1994 article.

“Everything he did was right there,” Mr. Schamu said. “Ric could be a little aloof and distant, but he was friendly and always very professional.”

Mr. Richter was a member of the AIA and had been awarded a fellowship to the AIA College of Fellows “for exceptional work and contributions to architecture and design.”

He retired in 1998.

Mr. Richter, who had moved to Mercy Ridge a year ago, enjoyed waterfowl hunting, fishing, boating and carving decoys. He also played bridge, golfed and was a member of the Baltimore Country Club.

Mr. Richter was a longtime communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, where private services were held Nov. 22.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Mary Ellen Schmidt; a daughter, Ellen Richter Jarosinski of Ruxton; and a granddaughter.

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