A homecoming of sorts

Alma mater: Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen has been chosen to design the $21 million alumni center for the University of Maryland.


March 12, 2001|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

He's designed American embassies inside historic buildings in Paris and Moscow. A library for American University in Cairo. An addition to the U.S. Capitol.

Now one of the most highly regarded architects to graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park - Hugh Newell Jacobsen - is designing a building for his alma mater.

Jacobsen, a 1951 graduate, was chosen from more than 40 architects who submitted proposals to design the $21 million Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center for the College Park campus.

The 60,000-square-foot building will be constructed on Campus Drive at the university's main entrance, making it one of the most prominent buildings on campus. Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2002 and be complete by late 2003.

"I am very honored to be selected as architect by my alma mater," said Jacobsen, who turned 72 yesterday. "I am more than proud."

This will be the first building on the College Park campus for Jacobsen, who heads his own firm, Hugh Newell Jacobsen FAIA of Washington. Maryland will raise $13 million of the construction cost in private donations, including a $2.5 million gift from Samuel Riggs IV, longtime chairman of Sandy Spring National Bank.

Although he has received more than 100 national and international design awards, and last year was named one of the world's top 100 architects by Architectural Digest magazine, Jacobsen says he "hasn't done a good building yet. But as the saying goes, `The Lord's not finished with me.' ... I hope to do it here. It's a marvelous site."

"We are pleased and proud to have Hugh Jacobsen create one of the most significant buildings on the campus," said Danita Nias, executive director of the Maryland Alumni Association. "This will be a home for all alumni. For the first time, we'll have a place on campus where alumni can gather to celebrate and reminisce."

The building will be the headquarters for the Alumni Association and will house alumni activities, including board meetings and functions for clubs and chapters. Its largest space will be a dining hall that can seat 500.

Jacobsen is known for his elegant residences and meticulous public buildings, including renovations to the Renwick Gallery and the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building in Washington and the Alumni Center at the University of Michigan. He is working on projects in 15 states and three foreign countries and recently doubled the size of his office, which now has 16 employees.

Maryland had no architecture school when Jacobsen was a student. After receiving an undergraduate degree in fine arts from UM, he received a master's degree in architecture from Yale University. UM awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1991 and inducted him into its Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jacobsen said he has fond memories of College Park and still lectures there at least once a year. He said College Park is where he met his wife of 48 years, Robin, who was editor of the women's page for the Diamondback student newspaper when he was a cartoonist there. He was also a close friend of Riggs, who graduated in 1950.

"I'm very pleased that Hugh will be the architect," Riggs said. "We knew each other quite well when we were students, but I didn't see him for 48 years, until he was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999."

Jacobsen said alumni centers can be sensitive commissions because "you're touching an awful lot of people and dealing with symbolism and meaning. We want to make an enduring work of architecture, not a Hallmark greeting card."

He said he hasn't completed the design but can say the alumni center will be made of red brick with white trim, like most buildings on the College Park campus. "Good architecture, like a well-mannered person, never shouts at the neighbors," he said.

Award for Angelos

Attorney and Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos is scheduled today to receive the first Leadership Award of the Johns Hopkins University's Real Estate Institute, in recognition of his contributions to Baltimore's renaissance.

The award will be presented during dedication ceremonies for Hopkins' new Downtown Center at Charles and Fayette streets, at 6 p.m. Angelos leases the building to Hopkins and has pledged $2.8 million to support its programs.

On Wednesday at noon, a public forum on "Developing a Big City Transportation Plan" will be held at the center. Scheduled speakers include Denise Goren, former deputy mayor of transportation for Philadelphia; Baltimore Deputy Mayor Laurie Schwartz, and Ralph E. Moore, of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association's transportation committee.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.