Architects show Hopkins officials design for two-story bookstore across campus Building intended to be more accessible

September 18, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Four months after the Johns Hopkins University commissioned a design for a new bookstore across the street from its Homewood campus, architects delivered the design yesterday to a board of trustees subcommittee.

After the closed meeting, Hopkins officials declined to release the preliminary building design for publication, but said the board was pleased with the specifications. The two-story bookstore will replace a university office building on the northeast corner of 33rd and N. Charles streets.

Stephen Campbell, director of facilities and management for Hopkins, said Barnes & Noble, which has operated the college's campus bookstore since 1981, will take part in a competitive bidding process for operation of the new bookstore. Other large bookstore franchises, including Bibelot and Crown, are expected to respond to a request for proposals, which the university will issue Oct. 10.

Hopkins spokesman Steve Libowitz said yesterday the doors will open in fall of 2000.

Demolition of the office building on the street corner will take place in the spring, Campbell said, adding that groundbreaking for the bookstore building, designed by Lavigne Associates Architects of Alexandria, Va., will take place in about a year.

Michael Schwartz, one of the architects, said the exterior will be brick and stone, with historical references, such as canopies, to neighboring buildings. The main floor will include a central atrium, and there will be 20 basement parking spaces.

Window walls and a coffee plaza on second-story terraces facing 33rd Street are key components in making the bookstore inviting to the outside world, Schwartz said.

The bookstore's entrance, marked by two columns, will be on the street corner, and a broad brick facade -- echoing the university's brick exteriors -- will be on 33rd Street to encourage people to walk to and from the business district on St. Paul Street.

For decades, the Hopkins bookstore has been in the basement of Gilman Hall, an on-campus site outsiders often have trouble finding on the spacious grounds. The new site is meant to solve that problem.

At a meeting of the city's Design Advisory Board last month, the plan was approved with a few reservations. The committee criticized the corner entrance as too "nervous" -- or, as panel coordinator and city architect Robert Quilter put it, "awkward and not quite right."

Quilter said the building must project what he called the dignified appeal of a campus building. Another panel member, Phoebe Stanton, a retired Hopkins art history professor, urged designers to capture an affectionate and humane academic community atmosphere.

"It needs to talk with the community and the campus," Quilter said.

The opening of a vibrant bookstore is a moment the North Baltimore neighborhood has been waiting for, and residents praised the cooperative process.

"I think they've tried very hard to work with the community," said Alice Brock, owner of the Images gift and coffee shop on St. Paul Street. She has served as host of a few monthly meetings between bookstore building designers and Charles Village community activists in her cafe.

Said Sage Ramadge, a 21-year-old Hopkins senior international relations major: "Right now it's not accessible to people. It's not the best setup in the Gilman basement. People don't just wander in."

Pub Date: 9/18/98

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