Doors open on a new season of architecture

September 11, 1994|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Sun Staff Writer

One block from the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon contractors have been rushing all summer to convert a former municipal office building to a $2.2 million headquarters for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

On the west side of downtown, the University of Maryland Medical Systems are about to move patients into a striking new addition, the $90 million Homer Gudelsky Building at Greene and Lombard streets.

Near Charles Street in Baltimore County, members of Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church will soon begin worshiping in a soaring new sanctuary that has been nearly 35 years in the making.

All over the region, builders are racing to complete key redevelopment projects that are changing the skylines of Baltimore and Maryland.

That's a pleasant change from recent years, when the recession put such a damper on new construction that very little opened at all.

This summer's flurry of construction activity means that there is a discernible "season" of new architecture to discover locally, for the first time since the mid-1980s. Many of the buildings about to make their debut represent significant additions to the urban landscape, designed by some of the area's most talented architects.

The "season" begins with a Sept. 19 opening of the Annie E. Casey Foundation headquarters at 701 St. Paul St. Cho, Wilks & Benn Architects of Baltimore has done a remarkable job of transforming a nondescript office building from the 1960s to a handsome and dignified work setting for employees of the children's advocacy organization, which moved to Baltimore from Greenwich, Conn.

Sept. 21 and 22 are the dedication dates for the Gudelsky Building, a nine-story patient tower that provides a new image for America's oldest teaching hospital. Zeidler Roberts Partnership of Toronto and Baltimore designed it to be a "hospitable hospital" whose consumer-friendly ambience is meant to be part of the healing process.

On Sept. 27, Gov. William Donald Schaefer will officially get his name on Baltimore's tallest building, when the office tower at 6 St. Paul St. is dedicated as the William Donald Schaefer Tower. D'Aleo Inc. has been overseeing the preparation of 180,000 square feet of office space there for occupancy by state agencies.

Also by late September, University of Baltimore professors will have moved into the six-story Robert G. Merrick School of Business, designed by the Hillier Group of Princeton, N.J., and Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore for the southwest corner of Mount Royal Avenue and Charles Street.

Oct. 3 is the opening date for the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Greenbelt, a $31 million "justice center" with wedge-shaped courtrooms designed by the Washington office of Hellmuth Obata and Kassabaum.

On Oct. 14, the Maryland Historical Trust will dedicate the $3.2 million first phase of its $11.7 million Maryland Archaeological Conservation Facility and Museum Service Center near Lusby, in Calvert County.

Located on the grounds of the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum and designed by Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, the complex is a "history factory" where state curators will prepare exhibits for three museums: Jefferson Patterson, Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, and Historic St. Mary's City.

Opening on the same date at Jefferson Patterson Park is the $3 million Estuarine Research Laboratory of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, by Grimm and Parker of Calverton.

Oct. 16 brings the much-awaited grand opening of the New Wing for Modern Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, by Bower Lewis and Thrower of Philadelphia.

Nov. 15 is the grand opening date for the Johns Hopkins Suburban Health Center at Greenspring Station, 10755 Falls Road in Lutherville, by D'Aleo Inc.

Also in November, NationsBank will light its recently gilded office tower at 10 Light St., and the Chase-Brexton Clinic will open its new headquarters at 1101 Cathedral St. (two projects by RTKL Associates). Gov. Schaefer is expected to dedicate the $34 million bridge over the Severn River, designed by Greiner Associates.

Other projects that contractors are rushing to finish by the end of the year are: the 500-car garage at Pennsylvania Station (by Whitman Requardt & Associates), an expansion of the Admiral Fell Inn in Fells Point (by Lee Rayburn); and the Washington County Museum, by Hagerstown-based architect Jack Berry.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is attempting to reopen the Open Ocean shark tank that has been closed for repairs since October 1993. The Baltimore-Washington International Airport will complete significant phases of its $30 million renovation, including a new "Skywindow" and airfield observation lounge by Greiner and Cambridge Seven Associates.

Among the religious projects due for completion in time for Christmas are: a $750,000 restoration of the interior of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Charles and Saratoga streets, including replacement of the chancel's giant East Window; and a new 350-seat sanctuary at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church, by Ziger/Snead Inc.

The holiday season will also bring the debut of the state's first branch of the FAO Schwarz toy emporium, at Towson Town Center. Though the entire space promises to be a visual wonderland, one section of particular interest to architecture buffs will feature a signature collection of whimsical gifts designed by the noted Princeton architect, Michael Graves.

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