News ticker inspired by childhood memory Angelos recollection led to design feature for Hopkins center

November 14, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

When Baltimore attorney Peter G. Angelos was growing up, he was intrigued by the news ticker on the side of the old Sun newspaper building that once stood at Baltimore and Charles streets.

So when Angelos began negotiating with representatives of the Johns Hopkins University to lease the former Hamburger's clothing store that he owns downtown, he proposed that it include a ticker similar to the one he remembered from childhood to enliven the streetscape.

That's how the design for the renovation of the Hamburger's building at Charles and Fayette streets came to include a 24-hour message system on the outside.

"I always was fascinated with the old ticker at Charles and Baltimore," Angelos recalled yesterday. "I'd just stand on the corner and watch."

A ticker could provide information from business news to weather reports to announcements of university events, said Stanley C. Gabor, dean of Hopkins' School of Continuing Studies.

"It's like Times Square," Gabor said. "It will make that corner a lively place for people to get information about business, the school and Baltimore in general. It absolutely fits there."

Hopkins representatives have signed a 10-year lease to occupy the former Hamburger's building, which is to be renovated by fall 2000. They say it will house the downtown branch of the School of Continuing Studies and serve as the administrative headquarters of its graduate division of business and management, replacing a smaller center at Charles and Saratoga streets.

During a morning news conference yesterday, planners unveiled a preliminary drawing showing how the Hamburger's building might look after its $6.1 million conversion to the Johns Hopkins University Downtown Center.

The rendering indicates that the three-story building would be substantially reconstructed to accommodate Hopkins, with a new exterior of glass, granite and stainless steel accents and classrooms wired for Internet access. Early architectural studies were done by RTKL Associates; Ziger/Snead of Baltimore has been hired to complete the final design.

The feature that sparked most discussion yesterday was the electronic ticker, a throwback to an era before television was a prime source of news. Hopkins' rendering indicates that it would run in a horizontal band between the first and second floors of the reconstructed building to animate the street and provide information to passers-by.

"We're really looking forward to this project," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said at the news conference. "Baltimore's going to have its own Times Square, to keep you up to date with not only what's going on around the city but around the world."

Gabor said the ticker probably will provide stock prices and other business data from Bloomberg News, a financial news service founded by Michael R. Bloomberg, chairman of Hopkins' board of trustees. He said it also might carry sports news and scores, especially because Angelos is majority owner of the Orioles.

The dean said he isn't certain whether the ticker will carry advertising. He suggested that it could be used to promote events associated with the university or the city, such as lectures and graduation ceremonies. It could even be used to post students' grades, Gabor quipped. "It has a lot of possibilities," he said.

Civic leaders hailed Hopkins' decision to expand its downtown center and move to a more visible location.

"It gives an entryway to the whole redevelopment of the Charles Street corridor," said businessman and artist Jimmy Rouse, a leader in efforts to bring new retail activity to the area.

"It brings our retail revitalization plan a step closer to the harbor," Rouse said. "With the work he's going to do on his building, it'll act as a gateway to the historical and cultural district."

Angelos said the reconstruction of the Hamburger's building, due to begin by summer, is one of many projects that can help restore the luster of Charles Center.

"This is a vibrant, thriving, professional area, and it's definitely on the upgrade," he said. "There have been some lean years, but that's definitely behind us.

"The second renaissance of downtown Baltimore begins today," he said. "I'm glad to be a part of it."

Pub Date: 11/14/98

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