Phipps spared as Hopkins rethinks building site Cancer center moved to Broadway

October 08, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Six months after preservationists raised a howl of protest about plans by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to tear down the former Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in East Baltimore, administrators have chosen another site to build a $130 million cancer center.

Dr. James A. Block, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, announced yesterday that Hopkins trustees have selected a 72,000-square-foot parking lot at the northeast corner of Broadway and Orleans Street as the "final site" to build the cancer center, starting next spring.

That means Hopkins will spare the 1913 Phipps building, one of the nation's earliest psychiatric clinics. The five-story building was converted to offices in the early 1980s and renamed the Frank M. Houck Building.

Hopkins officials announced last fall that the Phipps site was their first choice for construction of the cancer center, which will bring under one roof many of the departments involved in the treatment of cancer patients.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has pledged $30.5 million to help construct the project over five years, but state legislators last spring made future funds contingent on review of final building plans by the Maryland Historical Trust.

Trust members issued a resolution in July strongly urging Hopkins not to raze the former clinic.

Dr. Block said yesterday that after months of study, planners concluded that the Broadway site is "the best possible location for our new cancer center, because it offers easier accessibility for patients and families and allows us increased flexibility in facility design."

Building city links

He said hospital leaders want to establish a stronger link between the city and the medical campus and that the new site will be part of a major new entrance to the medical complex at Broadway and Orleans Street.

Dr. Block added that the hospital's in-house designers are working with the city on ways to beautify Orleans and Monument streets and other approaches to Hopkins.

"We're coming up with what we think is an exciting opportunity that not only meets our needs but also responds to the needs of the city," he said.

Now being designed by Odell Associates of Charlotte, N.C., the center will include state-of-the-art radiation therapy services, an outpatient chemotherapy treatment area, inpatient beds, operating rooms, surgical intensive care units and research labs.

Physicians initially preferred the Phipps site because it was close to existing clinical and research space. To make the Broadway location accessible, planners have suggested a two-story, glass-enclosed walkway between the proposed center and the older facilities.

Construction at Broadway and Orleans also "fits with the long-range institutional goals to create centers of excellence while moving toward a less congested campus," said Michael E. Johns, dean of Hopkins' School of Medicine.

The Phipps building will continue to be used for office space and will receive some exterior repairs in the near future, officials say.

The trustees' decision drew praise from preservationists and others who were concerned about the building's future.

"I'm delighted with the end result," said Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore, who strongly opposed the demolition plans. "It's a victory for everybody."

"We're extremely happy," said J. Rodney Little, head of the Maryland Historical Trust.

Completion set for 1997

The budget and timetable for the project have not changed as a result of the switch in sites, Hopkins officials say. All work is scheduled for completion by 1997.

Hopkins officials also disclosed that Baltimore businessman Francis X. Knott, a longtime hospital trustee, has been named chairman of a campaign to raise $74.5 million in private support for the project. Honorary chairmen will be Francis Knott's father, Henry, and Albert Owens Jr., founder and former director of Hopkins' current Oncology Center.

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