Casey Foundation's first imprint

September 19, 1994

When the Annie E. Casey Foundation moved to Baltimore late last month, it instantly became the city's largest charity with its $1 billion asset base and $67 million in grants this year. There was little fanfare, yet the foundation has made a grand entrance by doing a spectacular modernization of its new headquarters building at Mount Vernon Place.

The $2.2 million modernization is now complete. A nondescript 29-year-old building at St. Paul and Monument streets has been reborn as a light-filled structure. Its central atrium is ringed by five floors of offices, each with an outside window. The exterior colors have changed from a drab dark brown to chocolate and cream. There are window boxes outside as well as decorative lights.

This work by the architectural firm Cho, Wilks and Benn has given the old building an exciting new identity. Whenever the city now tries to recruit new corporations or foundations to Baltimore, the Casey Foundation building will be an obligatory stop to show what can be achieved with imagination but relatively little money.

When the Casey Foundation was considering a move to Baltimore from Greenwich, Conn., it looked all around Baltimore. The Mount Vernon location, with its two levels of inside parking, "was the only building they looked at that enabled them to have an identity," explained Dianne Rohrer, an interior designer at Cho, Wilks and Benn.

The 46-year-old foundation's move to Baltimore gives the organization low-cost access to its grantees in Washington and Philadelphia, explained communications director William J. Rust. Like some 40 other of the foundation's 53 employees, he relocated from Connecticut.

The Casey Foundation was established by a founder of the United Parcel Service and supports a variety of initiatives involving children. It does not seek publicity for itself, believing instead that the spotlight ought to stay on the needs of children and on the agencies dealing directly with them.

Today, even middle-class children experience neglect because of the heavy work schedules of parents and a modern technology which increasingly allows isolation. Work with children, regardless of their social background, presents challenges that were never felt before.

We welcome the Annie E. Casey Foundation to Baltimore. By its impressive redesign of its headquarters, the foundation has shown that it will be an active and imaginative player in its new hometown.

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