Parking garages with function, form

Awards: Two designs are recognized for contributing to the cityscape rather than clashing with it.


October 01, 2001|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

Can parking garages ever be lovable?

Judges for the American Institute of Architects' local design competition found not one but two that they liked enough to single out for honors this year, even before they're constructed.

One is a 13-level, 500-space, $8.5 million garage planned for a vacant lot in the 200 block of St. Paul Place, just south of the Tremont Plaza hotel. The architect is Murphy & Dittenhafer of Baltimore and York, Pa., with Carl Walker Inc. as the parking consultant.

The designers gave the garage a brick screen wall along St. Paul Place that has 12 rectangular openings, each three levels high. This wall screens the concrete ramps and changes the apparent scale of the garage, making it appear to have fewer levels than it does. The openings are further screened by thin sections of aluminum, which create a variety of patterns on the wall while softening the garage's appearance. An ashlar stone wall along the sidewalk screens on-grade parking and creates a portal for pedestrians.

The second award winner is a 325-space garage that will be constructed as part of the Baltimore Transportation Center, a $15.5 million project planned for a lot just north of Pennsylvania Station.

Designed by Design Collective of Baltimore, with Desman Associates as parking consultant, it will contain a new terminal for the Greyhound and Peter Pan bus lines, street-level retail space, a police koban, or kiosk, and a park as well as three levels of parking above. The center will be linked to Penn Station by a skybridge that spans the railroad tracks.

Due to begin construction within the next year, both projects are signs that garages need not be ugly intrusions in the cityscape and can actually be good neighbors. The client for the St. Paul Place garage is the City of Baltimore, and the client for the transportation center is Greyhound Lines Inc., Amtrak and the City of Baltimore.

"Most parking garages stand alone - disassociated from their context," the AIA judges said about the St. Paul Place garage. "This one is a successful urban project first, and a garage second."

They also praised the sponsors of the transportation center for investing in the urban infrastructure and connecting multiple modes of transportation. "The facade development of this large building is extremely well done and convincing," they said.

The St. Paul Place garage and the transportation center are two of nine projects that were selected from 67 entries to receive design awards in the 2001 program sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Three projects received honorable mentions. The awards will be presented during a program that starts at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway.

Other award winners were:

Offices at Tide Point for the architecture firm of Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc. Ayers/Saint/Gross was the architect and client.

London Town Visitor Center and Museum, a public attraction planned for construction along the South River on the site of Anne Arundel County's first seat of government. Cho Benn Holback & Associates is the architect. The Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks is the client.

A proposed $1 million expansion for the Roland Park Library, 5108 Roland Ave. in Baltimore. Charles Alexander and Laurie McLain of Alexander Design Studio/McLain Associates are the design architects. Probst-Mason Inc. is the architect of record. The Enoch Pratt Free Library, a city agency, is the client.

Renovation of St. Ignatius Church, 740 N. Calvert St. in Baltimore, won the Michael F. Trostel Award for Excellence in a Historic Preservation Project. Murphy & Dittenhafer was the architect. St. Ignatius is the owner.

The Johns Hopkins University's Downtown Center, home of the university's School of Professional Studies in Business and Education, at Charles and Fayette streets. The architect was Ziger/Snead LLP. Hopkins was the client. The building owner is Peter G. Angelos.

New headquarters for Total Office Interiors, 2524 Kirk Ave. The architect was Riley & Rohrer. The client was Total Office Interiors.

Van Dyck House, the renovation of a historic rowhouse at 831 Park Ave. Read and Company Architects was the architect. Louis and Maureen Van Dyck are the owners.

Honorable mentions went to: offices for Legacy Unlimited, 207 N. Charles St., designed by Riley & Rohrer; a student services center for Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pa., designed by Murphy & Dittenhafer, and St. Mary Magdalen Middle School, part of the St. Margaret Church campus in Bel Air, designed by Ziger/Snead LLP.

The judges also selected a Grand Prize winner, to be announced at the Oct. 19 event. Tickets cost $45 per person or $40 each for groups of six or more. Call the AIA at 410-625-2585.

Jones Falls Valley forum

Plans to restore and revitalize Baltimore's Jones Falls Valley will be discussed during a noontime forum on Wednesday at the Johns Hopkins University's Downtown Center. Planning consultant Alfred W. Barry III will be the speaker. The meeting is free and open to the public.

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