A house fit for an Oriole

September 23, 1992|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

Build a birdhouse and they will flock.

That's what supporters of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence, Kan., counted on last summer when they auctioned off 58 birdhouses especially designed and constructed by area architects for a local fund-raiser.

But the masterpiece of "Where Architects Come Home to Roost," a birdhouse inspired by a gargantuan birdhouse -- Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- did not command the money that the Bert Nash trustees believed it deserved. They bought back the replica from the highest bidder for $1,600 in hopes that someone in Birdland might want a beautifully crafted avian annex to their home or office. And the birdhouse, which measures about 2 1/2 feet square and is too fragile to be used outdoors, is still available -- for the right price.

When a request for donations to the auction trickled down to HOK Sports Facilities Group, it made perfect sense for the architectural firm that designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards to re-create a miniature stadium for the Orioles' feathered counterparts. In fact, Joe Spear, principal architect of the stadium (which won the American Institute of Architecture's 1992 award for best urban design) designed the replica.

It was constructed by colleague Dennis R. Wellner, a principal architect for such projects as Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami and new stadiums in San Antonio, St. Louis and Charlotte, N.C.

With painstaking care, Mr. Wellner assembled the intricate replica in richly finished redwood and veneer. Mr. Spear contributed technical and philosophical advice as well as a little inlay to the birdhouse outfield.

Like the real thing, this model boasts graduated seating and a playing field built below street level. Another distinguishing feature assures that there is no mistaking this model stadium for any other. The attached, overscaled warehouse is the perfect tip-off that this is Baltimore's own. It comes complete with four round holes and four roosts for four lucky -- although theoretical -- birds.

Pat Houston Davis, director of community development for the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, would like to see this birdhouse decorate the home of a rabid O's fan. For the "architect or die-hard lover of the Orioles, it is a work of art and a very whimsical type of statement coupled with exquisite craftsmanship," she says. "It needs to roost in Baltimore."

Besides, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center would like to meet its $50,000 goal in a fund-raising effort to create housing for adults with disabling mental problems. The center will consider "all reasonable offers" for the birdhouse, Ms. Davis says.

If interested, call the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence, Kan., at (913) 843-9192.

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