Michael S. Craft, a retired Baltimore architect who was a co-founder and partner of Marshall Craft Associates and an avid sailor, died March 2 at his home in Towson of complications from heart disease. The former Bolton Hill resident was 69.
“Mike was just a very dedicated and disciplined hardworking guy,” said Linton S. “Buck” Marshall, who first met Mr. Craft when both were young architects working at Richter, Cornbrooks, Matthai and Hopkins in 1976. “He was like the Energizer Bunny and never ran out of gas. He was never overwhelmed, was just steady, and had a great sense of humor.”
“Michael and Buck Marshall had a wonderful practice and knew how to cut to the chase,” said Walter Schamu, a founder and partner of SM+P Architects and an architectural historian. “Michael was a nice fellow and a quiet behind-the-scenes kind of guy. He was the back-office guy who got the jobs together and got them out the door.”
Michael Stephen Craft, son of Jerry Craft, an accountant, and his wife, Helen Craft, a high school English teacher, was born in Buffalo, New York, and raised in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he graduated in 1969 from Perrysburg High school.
He attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio, for two years, studying mathematics and physics. He transferred to the University of Cincinnati, from which he graduated in a six-year design art and architecture program in 1976.
While a student at Denison, Mr. Craft met his future wife, the former Meg Loew, a classmate at the university.
“We met in a bar in Newark, Ohio. It was parents’ weekend and our parents didn’t come,” recalled Ms. Craft, who retired from the Walters Art Museum, where she was an art conservator. “I asked him where he was from and he said, ‘A small town you never heard of.’ Well, it turns out that I’m from Toledo, and his town was four miles away from mine on the Maumee River.”
The two fell in love. “We got married the minute we got out of school,” Ms. Craft said.
After marrying in 1976, the couple moved to Baltimore when Mr. Craft took a job with Richter, Cornbrooks, Matthai and Hopkins, where he remained until 1986, when he and Mr. Marshall left the firm and established Marshall Craft Associates on York Road near Northern Parkway, later relocating their practice to Clipper Mill Road in Woodberry.
Michelle S. Hooper, an architect, vice president and a partner in the firm, was its first hire.
“I had done internships when I was in high school when they were with their former firm,” Ms. Hooper said. “Mike was the partner who probably was most involved in the operation side of things or the technology side and quality assurance.”
It fell to Mr. Craft to keep up with the latest technological developments with application in the field of architecture.
“Mike had a real affinity for technology and keeping us in the forefront. He took us into the computer age and had a real interest in keeping us abreast of things when it came to technology changes,” Ms. Hooper said. “He loved doing the research.”
The firm’s clients include commercial, educational, medical and science and research facilities, as well as cultural and historic sites, the federal government, and adaptive reuse of structures.
“They did designs for hospitals, McDaniel College, The Sun and Northrop Grumman, among many other clients,” Ms. Craft said. Mr. Craft worked on the late 1970s addition to the former Baltimore Sun building on North Calvert Street.
“We were at Cornbrooks, Matthai and Hopkins then, and we worked very closely with Harold A. Archer, who was The Sun’s general manager, on the new building,” Mr. Marshall recalled. “And when we went into business and were only open three or four days, Mr. Archer and The Sun became our first corporate client.”
“The Sun was a huge client, and Mike took great pride in the work we had done there,” Ms. Hooper said. “He was the rock bed of the operation of the operation while Buck was the visionary.”
“Mike had a wonderful mind for technical details and problem solving and handled that side of the ledger,” Mr. Marshall said. “He cared about the glitz and glamour of architecture, but it didn’t mean anything if it leaked and didn’t work.”
One of Mr. Craft’s specialties was in roof design and repair.
“Mike was a registered roofing consultant and one of the few licensed architects in the state of Maryland to have that credential,” Ms. Hooper said. “It is quite an accomplishment and representative of extensive technical knowledge and experience.”
The two partners shared a deep love of sailing, which eventually resulted in Mr. Craft’s purchasing an Alerion 28, a 28-foot-long popular modern daysailer.
“Mike just loved sailing and didn’t have the opportunity to sail as much as I did, but eventually he bought his own boat,” said Mr. Marshall, who retired from the firm in 2013 but remained a consultant for several more years.
“We raced on the Chesapeake Bay and chartered a boat and sailed through the Greek islands,” he said. “One of my favorite memories was when I raced to Bermuda and Mike came down to help me bring the boat back to Baltimore. We had such a wonderful time together.”
Mr. Craft was a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Rotary Club. He assisted with the Rotary Club’s efforts as well as several other organizations in creating the Star-Spangled Living Flag at Fort McHenry, whose origins date to 1914 when it was called the Human Flag. The 15 stars and stripes were assembled by 6,500 Baltimore public school children.
Mr. Craft, who retired in 2016, thoroughly enjoyed being a family man.
“He was absolutely devoted to his family, and they meant everything to him,” Mr. Marshall said. “He was constantly helping his kids, like when they bought their first homes he’d go in and suggest what work needed to be done and how to do it.”
Mr. Marshall reflected on his long friendship and working relationship with Mr. Craft.
“We worked together for 45 years and there was never a cross word, and I felt we totally complemented one another,” Mr. Marshall said. “Over the years, a lot of architectural firms had a lot of angst and explosions, but we never had that.”
“Mike was a very kind man and had a wonderful sense of humor,’ Ms. Hooper said. “He was part of the culture along with Buck that made it such a wonderful place to work, and that’s why I’ve been there 35 years.”
It was Mr. Craft’s wish to have no funeral, and due to the pandemic, plans for a gathering to be held next year are incomplete.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Craft is survived by two sons, Jeffrey Craft of Lutherville and Benjamin Craft of Glenville, Pennsylvania; two brothers, John Craft of Rochester, New York, and Richard Craft of Elmore, Ohio; and three grandchildren.