Rebecca Kent of Pikesville is all about the family business, and has been most of her life.
Though she started off stuffing envelopes, Kent, 39, was just named principal and vice president of marketing at Levin/Brown & Associates, Inc., an architecture firm that specializes in building synagogues, founded in 1986 by her father Mark Levin and his partner Jay Brown.
Born and raised in Pikesville and a graduate of the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Kent flew the coop to earn her master’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design, graduating in 2002. Upon returning home, she’s made an impact in the revitalization of Pikesville by being the architect behind the recent Pikes Theatre renovation into Next Act Cinema at the Pikes.
Always juggling new synagogue projects across the country, Kent likes to spend her free time with her husband, Christopher, and their two children, Bailey, 10, and Devin, 6. “Like everyone in Pikesville,” she said, she’s looking forward to seeing Billy Joel in concert this summer.
You’re in the family architecture business. Do you remember when you became interested in architecture?
I always drew as a kid. I was into music and art and that kind of stuff. I worked a little bit here and there for the business, stuffing envelopes and filing drawings. We have a specialty in synagogues and churches and high-end luxury homes. So you get to see these things being built as a kid, and you see all the drawings, which were all done by hand back then. I watched them and all the other architects they had in the office and, as a kid, I would organize the colored pencils and markers.
Once I graduated from Beth Tfiloh, I decided to go to architecture school. I had looked in graphic design and other forms of design, and saw what happens. And I was good at it. It kind of came naturally to me.
You were the architect for the renovation of the Pikes Theatre. Did your history designing synagogues lend itself to that project?
Yes, it did. Because today synagogues and churches are using multi-media during their services. So sight lines in particular, and scale of space are important. They are both assembly spaces so the rules that govern them as far as exits and safety, and Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines are all the same.
Having grown up in Pikesville, what was it like to be part of the Pikes renovation?
I actually took my daughter there to see “Frozen” when she was two. It was closed for a while, but when they said they were interested in reopening it, it was really exciting, because I used to go take my grandmother to eat there. It’s definitely a family place. I still haven’t taken my son to see a movie. But if the Pikes shows something like “Toy Story 4,” I’ll be really excited to take him. The Pikes is a nice little community project and I hope it will spark some other development or investments in that area because it’s really important for a local business to help other small businesses get started or grow or continue.
Was designing a theatre/restaurant challenging?
It posed some challenges in terms of giving servers direct access from the kitchen to the theater. Which is similar to when we design an event space. Having a kitchen and relating that kitchen to where the experience is happening, whether it’s for a wedding, bar mitzvah or for a movie theater, there are some logistics that need to be considered, like access, so they don’t have to walk down the hallway with their trays for 50 feet.
What are some projects you’re working on now?
Right now I’m working on some synagogues in Florida and just finished a large synagogue in Newport News, Virginia and in New York. I got to go to the one in Newport News for their grand opening and that was a really great experience to walk into something you conceived in your mind. It’s a surreal experience a little bit, but it’s very satisfying.