University of Maryland


A New Refrain

Architect-Musician Helps Students Compose Creative Futures

By Liam Farrell

Being an architect by day for his family real estate company and a guitar player in a cult post-punk band at night sounds like a difficult balance, but Charles Kibel M. Arch. ’90 finds a symmetry with his creative sides. After all, he recalls, Goethe once said, “architecture is frozen music.”

Kibel is committed to helping others follow their muses and has recently given $100,000 to create an endowed fellowship for a first-year graduate student in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

“It’s school pride,” he says. “I received a good education, and I’d like to help others get the same education.”

The son of an architect, Kibel went to Haverford College outside of Philadelphia, and also wanted to be near a metropolitan area for graduate school. Besides picking up some guitar skills from fellow students at UMD, he also got a foundation in design that has served him well working for the Kibel Companies, the New York-based business that has designed and built more than 3,600 residential apartments in the last 50 years.

Outside of real estate, the family also has a long history of giving to UMD, including two endowments and a gift to launch the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s Kibel Gallery. Charles also created a leadership fund for architecture student and faculty programs in 2012 and a TerpStart scholarship in 2015.

“The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has benefited from the generosity of the Kibel family for nearly two decades,” says Professor Brian Kelly, director of the architecture program. “Charles continues that legacy by endowing a fellowship that will enable graduate students to pursue their passions in architecture.”

At UMD, Kibel learned that “if you do the work and stick to it, you can accomplish things.”

“Sleep was hard to come by sometimes,” he says.

Not that sleeping is always high on Kibel’s list. In 1998, he founded the band Crazy Mary, which combines a glam lead singer named Emma Z with funky ’70s beats from the backing band. The group has recorded 11 albums and played from Las Vegas to London, taking the stage at Hollywood’s legendary Whisky A Go Go and getting raves from publications like The Village Voice.

Music and architecture have similar principles, he says, and whether designing a building or writing a psychedelic rock song, it all starts with finding a rhythm and a structure: “You try to get the groove first.”

And thanks to his gift, more students will be able to find their own refrain. “The scholarship levels the playing field,” he says. “We get students who otherwise can’t afford to go.”