Peter G. Christie

Age 87 The Baltimore architect was an early advocate of environmentally sustainable buildings.

August 01, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun Reporter

Peter Graham Christie, a Baltimore architect and Bauhaus advocate whose many commissions changed the skyline of Towson, died of heart failure July 25 at the Blakehurst retirement community. The former longtime Ruxton resident was 87.

Mr. Christie, the son of A. G. Christie, a noted mechanical engineer who had been president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, was born in Baltimore and raised in Homeland. He was a McDonogh School graduate.

Mr. Christie earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 1940 and a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Virginia in 1943.

In 1949, he earned a master's degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he had studied with Walter A. Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus movement in architecture.

While a student at Harvard, Mr. Christie worked at the Baltimore architectural firm of John Zink and Lucius R. White Jr.

In 1950, he established a practice, Wilson & Christie, with David H. Wilson Sr.

"The young partners developed a notable reputation for their modern Bauhaus-inspired designs of both private homes and commercial government buildings," said a daughter, Gillian Turner Christie of Santa Barbara, Calif.

"Peter was a very early devotee of contemporary architecture in this area. His practice was in Towson, and Towson became a focal point for a great deal of his work," W. Boulton Kelly, a Baltimore architect, said yesterday.

"He gave freely of his time and the master plan in Baltimore County reflected his ideas," Mr. Kelly said.

In a 1961 study submitted to the Baltimore County Planning Board, Mr. Christie and his partner wrote that the typical rowhouse was not the solution to urban sprawl.

"The usual two-story-plus-basement house, row upon row, will not answer the county's needs, so other types and arrangements must be encouraged and used," said a passage from the report, which was published in The Evening Sun.

With what they termed "group house neighborhoods," the architects stressed a variety of housing types as well as "ample open space and shopping convenience within easy reach. New blocks and street patterns must be stimulated."

Mr. Christie and Mr. Wilson warned the planning agencies that rapidly disappearing countryside was being replaced by what they called "Fringetown" and would eventually engulf the state from the Pennsylvania line to the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1963, he established Christie, Niles and Andrews, and in 1969 became a partner in the Architectural Affiliation, which later became TAA Inc.

He was president of the firm for more than two decades and remained with it until retiring in 2004.

"He was also an early pioneer of site-appropriate, environmentally sustainable building design," said Ms. Christie.

An example is the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, a 400-bed medical facility that The Sun described as an "upside-down hospital" and was constructed on 60 rolling acres in Towson.

The architectural firms of Rogers, Taliaferro, Kostritsky and Lamb and Christie, Niles and Andrews designed the hospital, which opened in 1965.

Other significant buildings he designed in Towson include The Penthouse on Allegheny Avenue, Black & Decker's corporate headquarters, the Campbell Building, Loyola Federal Savings and the Alex. Brown & Sons branch office.

He also designed buildings on the campuses of Goucher College and St. Paul's School for Girls, and the Decker College Center at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College.

Mr. Christie's work earned him widespread recognition and numerous awards from the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, Towson Development Corp. and the Baltimore Association of Commerce.

For the past seven years, he lived at the Towson retirement community.

"His only regret was that he didn't die in a building he had designed," Ms. Christie said.

Mr. Christie was an artist, photographer, world traveler, yachtsman and a humanitarian, family members said.

He was also interested in his Celtic heritage and enjoyed wearing the Christie-Graham tartan kilt to formal events and was seldom without his tam o'shanter.

A memorial gathering will be held from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at the L'Hirondelle Club, 7611 L'Hirondelle Club Road in Ruxton.

Also surviving are his wife of 27 years, the former Nancy Kidder; two other daughters, Alison Graham Tucker of Portsmouth, N.H., and Jean Alden Farquhar of Perth, Australia; a stepson, Christopher E. Hupfeldt of Haverford, Pa.; stepdaughters Kim Hupfeldt of Palmetto, Fla., and Julie Hupfeldt Miller of Ruxton; 11 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. A stepson, William Hupfeldt, died in 2004. An earlier marriage to Fara J. Smith ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.