Emily B. Heath, 48, designer, founder of corporate interiors planning group

April 21, 2001|By Sloane Brown and Frederick N. Rasmussen | Sloane Brown and Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Emily B. Heath, a noted corporate and institutional interior designer who was chief executive officer and founder of Heath Design Group Inc. in Baltimore, died yesterday of breast cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was 48 and lived in Owings Mills.

Since 1991, Ms. Heath had headed her own design firm in Brown's Arcade on North Charles Street.

She had been vice president and marketing design director for Michael Asner Associates Inc. from 1975 until 1991.

"She made a tremendous physical mark in the city. She had done over 1,500 projects in greater Baltimore and had touched a lot of workplaces," Art Jacoby, president of Heath Design Group Inc., said yesterday.

Ms. Heath's firm specialized in interior design and space planning for corporate, health care and institutional offices and elderly housing.

"Emily and her team touched many thousands of people who enjoyed the fruits of her creativity. She had an intense passion for service and treated every client like they were her only client. That was her approach," Mr. Jacoby said.

"I hired her right out of the Maryland Institute, and within five years she was a master designer," said Michael Asner, founder and CEO of Michael Asner Associates Inc.

"Her work, then as now, was business interior design," he said. "She had energy and enthusiasm about design. Every day she was turned on. You can't be downhearted and be a designer, and she always had lots of energy."

Richard C. Mike Lewin, former secretary of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, recalled working with her when she redesigned the department's offices at 217 E. Redwood St.

"She was a delight and very sympathetic to the fact that we didn't know what we were doing," said Mr. Lewin, whose project had a limited budget and an eight-week deadline.

"We had to make it look like corporate CEO offices but on a state budget. To balance all those competing challenges, she pulled it off, very efficiently and attractively. She was so easy to work with, your angst levels lowered in her presence," he said.

"Everything happened right because Emily did her job to perfection," said Mr. Lewin, now senior managing director at Legg Mason.

"For a woman in business, she was very confident and self-assured," said Jonathan Hazman, a client who is president of Virtual Physical Center and Porter Dialysis Centers in Baltimore.

"She had a unique dedication to her work, and every inch mattered. Some people look at the big picture, and in a good sense, she micromanaged. When your place [was] the subject of the micromanagement, it mattered. Every detail. Everything always mattered to her," he said.

Eddie Brown, president of Brown Capital Management, chose Ms. Heath on the basis of a recommendation from C. William Struever, the Baltimore developer and president of Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse.

"We chose her because of her professionalism," Mr. Brown said, noting that he knew that she, as principal, would be directly involved in the project. "She also had an outstanding list of references, so it was an easy choice."

She also designed Mr. Struever's new office at Tide Point, his development project in Locust Point.

"She was one incredibly talented, gorgeous, courageous person, and Baltimore's going to miss her big time," Mr. Struever said. "Her firm was terrific in creating this magical new office."

Born Emily Brodsky and raised in Sudbrook Park, Ms. Heath was a 1971 graduate of Milford Mill High School and earned her bachelor's degree in interior design from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1975.

Her 1981 marriage to Mark Heath ended in divorce.

Some of Ms. Heath's civic interests included United Jewish Appeal Leadership, Greater Baltimore Committee, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, the board of Hillel Jewish College Services and the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. She was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

She is survived by a son, Aaron B. Heath, and a daughter, Allison B. Heath, both of Owings Mills; her parents, Rubin M. Brodsky and Natalie Brodsky of Annapolis; a brother, Robert M. Brodsky of Pikesville; a sister, Marcy Brodsky Piet of Hampstead; and several nephews and nieces.

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