Canadian architects expand city presence

September 02, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

At a time when many local architectural firms are shrinking or fighting to avoid layoffs, the Zeidler Roberts Partnership is moving aggressively to increase its presence in Maryland.

This month, the Toronto-based firm is officially launching a permanent Baltimore office at 1025 St. Paul St. to compete for work in the health care field and other design markets.

It will be the first permanent U.S. office for the 112-year-old firm, which has temporary "project offices" in Philadelphia and West Palm Beach, Fla., as well as satellite offices in London and in Suhl, Germany.

With 135 employees in all, including an eight-member Maryland staff, Zeidler Roberts is already the lead designer of two of the largest projects planned for construction in Baltimore over the next two years: the $164 million Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration and the $85 million Homer Gudelsky Inpatient Building for the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Work on both projects is expected to begin next month.

The firm also designed the $200 million Gallery at Harborplace complex at Pratt and Calvert streets, and has designed several other projects for the Columbia-based Rouse Co. It will hold a reception at the Gallery Sept. 16 to mark the opening of its Baltimore office.

"Zeidler Roberts has enjoyed a strong relationship with Baltimore and, in particular, the Inner Harbor," said architect Eberhard Zeidler. "Opening office space in the city will help us to continue to develop this relationship."

The city's goal of becoming a center for the life sciences fits well with the design firm's strategy of specializing in health care facilities and mixed-use projects, said Martin Fiset, principal-in-charge of the Baltimore office.

"It behooves us to have a permanent presence," Mr. Fiset said. "The city and state have been very generous to us. We have received a lot, and we want to give a lot back. We hope the reception will be very positive from our clients."

"Zeidler Roberts is well known in Europe and Canada as an imaginative, high-quality designer," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in a statement.

Its presence in Baltimore, he said, "testifies to the city's growing importance as a player on the international scene. . . . We welcome them to the Baltimore community."

Founded in 1880 as Blackwell and Craig and renamed Zeidler Roberts Partnership in 1980, the firm is known for projects that include Toronto Eaton Centre and Ontario Place, both in Toronto, and McMaster University Health Sciences Center in Hamilton, Ontario.

Zeidler Roberts purchased its St. Paul Street building in June from Edmunds & Hyde, an architectural firm that ceased operations this summer after 135 years in business. Mr. Fiset said the Baltimore office will work on projects throughout the Northeast.

It will also be responsible for construction administration on the 149-bed Gudelsky tower, scheduled for completion at the northwest corner of Lombard and Greene streets in late 1994.

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