Herbert Beckwith was born in Midland, Michigan, in 1903. He studied at the Case School of Applied Science and at MIT, receiving a Master’s degree in architecture in 1927. He taught at MIT from 1926, becoming a full professor in 1947, until his retirement in 1968. He was acting head of the Department of Architecture in 1956-57. In 1937 he co-founded the firm of Anderson & Beckwith (later to become Anderson, Beckwith & Haible) with fellow faculty member Lawrence B. Anderson.
Anderson & Beckwith and Anderson, Beckwith & Haible designed eleven buildings on the MIT campus, including the MIT Alumni Pool, Rockwell Cage, Briggs Field House, Dorrance Building, and Dupont Athletic Building. Other buildings are the Science Building, University of Massachusetts at Boston; the Brookline Town Office Building; and buildings on the campuses of Rutgers University, Fisk University in Nashville, the University of Rochester, and the University of Virginia.
In 1953-54, Beckwith served as an associate of Eero Saarinen in the development of the Kresge Auditorium and the MIT Chapel. He also designed the U.S. Embassy in Taiwan; the American Insurance Underwriters Building, Tokyo; and various buildings in Rangoon, Manila, and Bermuda.