Four nationally prominent architectural firms are in the running to design a $97 million office building for the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration if the agency chooses to move to downtown Baltimore.
The four contenders, all from outside Maryland, are: the New York office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; Kohn Pederson Fox Associates of New York; Stubbins Associates of Boston; and Thompson Ventulett Stainback and Associates Inc. of Atlanta.
The selection will be made by the team chosen last month to bid for the right to develop the project on a city-owned site -- a 2-acre parcel bounded by Pratt, Camden, Paca and Eutaw streets -- that has been made available for the federal agency.
That team, selected over 16 other bidders, is a joint venture of the Rouse Co., Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and developer Daniel P. Henson III.
That team must compete with a half-dozen developers who control sites in Baltimore County and who also have expressed interest in building the 800,000-square-foot headquarters.
Bids are due in about 120 days, and the federal government will select a site and development team sometime after that.
The Rouse Co. placed public notices in local newspapers yesterday stating that it would select one of the four out-of-town firms to serve as the design architect.
The notice also said the company is seeking subconsultants, such as production architects and engineers, to work as part of the design team for the building, one of the largest that is in the planning stages for downtown Baltimore.
In its ad, the Rouse Co. said 30 percent of the architectural and engineering fees for the project would go to minority-owned businesses and 5 percent would go to businesses owned by women.
Rouse officials also said the team will give preference to Maryland businesses or organizations based outside Maryland but with an existing local office.
Robert Minutoli, senior development director for Rouse, said that the development team selected the design finalists, in consultation with city officials, from a list of 10 firms with strong experience designing first-class office buildings similar in size, scale and schedule to the HCFA project.
He said his team also advertised the names of the finalists to give local subcontractors a chance to team up with one or more of the four design architects under consideration.
In about two weeks, after the four architectural and engineering teams are established, he said, Rouse and its partners will select one design team to represent it in its bid for the project.
At the health-care agency's request, the U.S. General Services Administration, which is handling the bidding, has limited the geographical areas under consideration for the proposed headquarters to downtown and an area stretching from Woodlawn to Owings Mills in Baltimore County.
The GSA was expected to issue its official request for proposals from eligible bidders later this week.