Mark Ledwell: February 9, 1953 – May 5, 2021
We are a close family of designers and builders in this valley, and if you practice here as an architect, engineer or tradesperson, you would certainly have known Mark Ledwell. The 20 plus years he was a part of Wright Builders resulted in a legacy of buildings that many of us are familiar with; The Bement School Dormitories, Village Hill Townhouses, The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst (where he crafted hand-made benches from an oak that fell to make room for a new addition,) The Belchertown Day School, Green River Condominiums, The Hitchcock Center, and those are just a few.
The Hitchcock Center, along with the Kerns Center, were built contemporaneously by WBI, and are the second and third Living Building Challenge structures in this part of the country. The Hitchcock Center was Mark’s project, and the level of passion, communication and people skills needed for this type of work is a rare commodity. In the words of Jonathan Wright, Mark’s cohort and business partner over those many years, “Being a maker is not just a skill, or a vocation. It is a path through this world and beyond…. Mark could build anything. That’s with a capital A. Buried in that kindly smile and broad shoulders was a fiercely quick intellect and math cognition that would shame a lowly computer. When he said, ‘we’ll figure it out”, it was not a cliché. It was a statement of problem-solving fact.” Before joining Wright Builders, Mark built homes for John Bednarski, a brilliant valley architect with a yen for disappearing butt-glazed corners. “Tell me what it’s supposed to look like and I’ll put the wood where it is supposed go,” Mark exclaimed.
Mark possessed the prefect blend of stature, experience, humor and discipline that is essential to this business. Design and construction is an industry where the risk/reward balance is often in flux. Mark was able to bring that dynamic into perspective by trusting and encouraging those around him while asserting his own knowledge and expertise, often with a wink to assure you he was on your side. His laugh would fill the room and was always the right antidote to a problem-solving moment; refocusing attention and mining solutions from the collective mind.
Mark recently worked tirelessly for the better part of a year renovating a home in Greenfield for the Children’s Advocacy Center, an organization “based upon the fundamental premise that children have the right to be safe and protected from harm.” Volunteering his talents for this cause, he also helped fundraise for the CAC and increase public awareness of their mission.
Those who knew Mark professionally are fortunate and the better for it. He was also a man devoted to his family, a husband and father of four children. He was a musician, a master woodworker, a gardener, an intellectual, a humorist, a man of exceptional talent who knew how to shape the physical world for the greater good. People who live and work in the spaces he helped build are surrounded by the care Mark applied to all his accomplishments. Mark’s work will live on for generations, carrying his spirit and love of life and family forward, so others may benefit from what he added to this world.
-Charles Roberts AIA, Principal, Kuhn Riddle Architects