Making more room for books


Revitalization: The city has selected an architectural team to design a $1 million expansion and restoration of Roland Park's branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

January 13, 2000|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

REVITALIZATION efforts for the Roland Park community in North Baltimore are moving ahead with the selection of an architectural team to design a $1 million expansion and renovation of the Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

After considering several design teams, a city panel has selected a partnership of Alexander Design Studio and McLain Associates, both of Ellicott City, and Probst-Mason Inc. of Baltimore. Rick Kingsbury is the team's landscape architect.

The project includes an addition that will double the capacity of the library at 5108 Roland Ave. as well as restoration of the interior of the original building, which dates from 1924.

The program also calls for a new main entrance and for making all areas of the library accessible to disabled patrons.

The library expansion is part of a larger revitalization plan developed by Roland Park Civic League, including replacing curbing, improving the street and sidewalks, and planting trees in the grass median.

The 5100 block of Roland Ave. is a focus of the plan because it is a primary gathering spot for the community, with the library on one side of the street and retailers on the other.

Designed by Buckler and Fenhagen, the stone-clad library is one of the most significant civic buildings in Roland Park, one of Baltimore's first planned communities. It's also one of the most heavily used Pratt branches. Before leaving office last month, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke committed city resources to help pay for the library expansion. The civic league also has committed to raise funds to help pay for the project.

Probst-Mason has extensive experience with library and school design and will be the architect of record for the project. Alexander Design Studio and McLain Associates have won numerous design awards for their sensitive additions to older buildings in central Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Howard counties. This will be their first major project for the city of Baltimore.

The two-level, 4,000-square- foot addition will rise at the north side of the existing library and will be visible from Roland Avenue. Architect Charles Alexander said the team hopes to have a preliminary design by May.

"It's a wonderful library," he said. "We don't want to do anything to hurt the scale and presence it has on Roland Avenue. Our main concern is to make sure that, when all is said and done, the original building will still stand as people know it."

Downtown Partnership tackles parking issues

At the request of Mayor Martin O'Malley, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore will assume short-term responsibility for improving parking in and around the central business district.

Lisa Raimundo, director of economic development for the Downtown Partnership, has been asked to serve as the "point person" for downtown parking issues, coordinating activities of the city's Department of Public Works, Baltimore Development Corp. and others involved in building garages.

Raimundo will continue to work from the offices of the partnership, a nonprofit organization that promotes downtown, and will remain its economic development director. Her new responsibilities will include getting at least one new parking garage under construction; maximizing use of the city's existing garages; and exploring long-term issues such as zoning and transportation.

"Downtown's parking problem has evolved into a parking crisis," Downtown Partnership Chairman Frank Bramble said. "The partnership is committed to helping the O'Malley administration tackle an issue we regard as downtown's primary economic development concern."

Hopkins names director for its historic houses

The Johns Hopkins University has named local art historian and curator Cindy Kelly to serve as director of its art collections and historic houses, Evergreen House and Homewood House.

For two years, Kelly has been responsible for researching, developing and obtaining funding for the exhibitions at Evergreen House, an Italianate structure dating from the 1850s at 4545 N. Charles St. She also trained volunteer guides and developed special projects, including a lecture series on urban issues and a summer artist residency program.

Before that, she was an art consultant to Baltimore's Department of Recreation and Parks, the Trust for Public Land in Washington and other agencies.

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