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Mark H. Beck, architect who designed Lexington Market Arcade, dies

Mark Beck obituary photo.
Mark Beck obituary photo.

Mark H. Beck, an architect who designed the Lexington Market Arcade during his lengthy professional career, died of Parkinson’s disease complications Dec. 16 at his home in Royal Oak in Talbot County. The former Towson and Columbia resident was 88.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, he was the son of Harry Beck, a jazz clarinet player and Bendix radio worker and his wife, Clara Brostrom, a homemaker.

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He was a 1951 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and earned his bachelor of architecture from the University of Cincinnati. He also had a master’s degree in Urban Architecture and City & Regional Planning from the Catholic University of America and another master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland.

Mr. Beck began work with architect Donald Potter in the early 1960s. Among his early commissions was the Taylor Manor Hospital in Ellicott City.

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He established his own business and was president and owner of Mark Beck Associates, Architects.

In 1970 he hired Peter Powell, who had recently left military service.

“Mark was always the idea guy on how to do something new. He was on the leading edge of computers and electronics and had an early cellphone,” said Mr. Powell. “He was well known for mid-century modern design and people came to him to design their homes. He often said, ‘Designing houses was more marriage counseling than architecture.’”

In 1978 he renamed the firm Beck, Powell & Parsons, a firm based in Towson, Columbia and Baltimore.

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He purchased 2204 Maryland Avenue, a large Baltimore rowhouse that he filled with his employees. At one time the firm employed nearly 45 people.

George Bunting, a friend and client, recalled meeting Mr. Beck in 1968 to discuss building a home.

“He arrived in a VW square back with a ladder. He wanted us to see what the view would be from the bedroom. He also asked what size bed we slept in,” said Mr. Bunting. “Mark was a great listener. He didn’t build a Mark Beck house. He built the client’s house.”

Mr. Bunting also said, “Mark was a gentle soul and a spiritual person.”

Mr. Beck and his partners designed the Lexington Market Arcade building and its adjoining garage in downtown Baltimore. They also created Boston Street’s Anchorage Tower, an early development on the Canton waterfront.

He also did work at the Naval Academy, including the renovation of MacDonough Hall, a recreational structure.

He also designed building renovations at Loyola University Maryland and at Johns Hopkins University. He designed the Towson Unitarian Church on Dulaney Valley Road and EIL Instruments in Hunt Valley.

Mr. Beck created the old Baltimore Colts training facility in Owings Mills and a McCormick Properties headquarters in Hunt Valley.

He won a design competition for the Baltimore County Detention Center.

“He spent the night there to get the feel for what confinement would be like,” said his daughter, Gail Boren.

Mr. Beck was a past president of the Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Mr. Beck received numerous awards during his career — including a 25-year award from the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) for his design of the bakery owner Sam Silber’s residence in Roland Park as well as an AIA award for an artist studio and guesthouse in Monkton.

He was known in the field for his custom-designed contemporary homes and was recognized in The Baltimore Sun for Who’s Who in Residential Architecture.

In the early 1990′s, he moved to Easton, MD where he worked remotely from his home while continuing to practice at his firm in Baltimore. He also made it a practice to visit Baltimore City Schools, where he addressed students about becoming architects.

About six years ago he decided to acquire an English bulldog, Wally. They became inseparable.

“My father’s interests revolved around food. He loved going to restaurants. He was not afraid to take risks with friends or to meet new friends or to experience life,” said his daughter. “He loved braised short ribs, stuffed Cornish hens and seafood stews. He once tried to get me to taste frogs’ legs, which tasted like swampy chicken. He tried to tempt me with muskrat, but I said no.”

He had favorite restaurants in St. Michaels and Easton. He regularly ordered the snapper soup with sherry at the Tidewater Inn.

He served as a member of Third Haven Friends Meeting, the Talbot County Historic Preservation Committee, Maryland Center for Character Education, Talbot Mentors, and Evergreen Easton Point. He was beloved by many in his community of Easton.

A funeral service is planned at a later date.

Survivors include his partner of 13 years, Cassandra Kabler, an artist; two sons, Guy Beck of Hendersonville, North Carolina and Eric Beck of Towson; two daughters, Lynne Beck of Cockeysville and Gail Boren of Timonium; and four granddaughters. He was formerly married to Mary Jo Sackett.

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