A big year for building


January 05, 2004|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

The past 12 months were unusually busy in terms of local openings of major architectural projects, and 2004 promises to be even busier.

Downtown's first performing arts center in 25 years, a transformed Maryland Science Center, a rejuvenated Peabody Institute and one of the nation's largest African-American museums are just a few of the projects set to open between now and Dec. 31.

Some projects are blockbusters that have been in the works for years; others are smaller, infill ventures that follow and feed off the blockbusters. It's all part of the $2 billion worth of construction activity under way in and around Baltimore.

What follows is a partial list of openings to show what Marylanders have in store for 2004:

One of the highlights is the Hippodrome theater at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, a 2,276-seat theater at 12 N. Eutaw St. that will open Feb. 10 as downtown's new home for Broadway-style touring shows and other productions. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York is the lead architect for the $65 million project; Schamu Machowski Greco of Baltimore is responsible for construction coordination.

The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University is planning festivities April 17-25 to celebrate completion of a three-year, $26 million restoration and modernization of its Mount Vernon Place campus. Quinn Evans Architects of Washington is the lead architect. More than $23 million had been raised as of early November.

April also will bring completion of the $4.5 million Baltimore Visitor Center, a highly visible tourism project on the west shore of the Inner Harbor. Design Collective is the architect.

The Maryland Science Center will unveil a $40 million expansion and transformation of its Inner Harbor home on May 28. New areas include an Earth Sciences and Dinosaur Hall and a Temporary Exhibits Gallery, but changes have been made throughout the complex. Design Collective is the architect for the latest work.

Sept. 1 is the target completion date for the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, a $5.8 million addition to the American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway. Taking shape inside a former whiskey barrel warehouse, the Rouse Center will include exhibit and meeting space to supplement the 8-year-old museum. Cho Benn Holback + Associates is the architect.

When it opens this fall at Pratt and President streets, the $33 million Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will be the second largest African-American museum in the country, after one in Detroit. It was designed by RTKL Associates of Baltimore and the Freelon Group of Durham, N.C.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County will open a $14 million School of Public Policy in mid-January. Cho Benn Holback is the architect.

Jan. 30 brings the opening of the National Federation of the Blind Research and Training Institute, a $19.5 million addition to the National Center for the Blind at 1800 Johnson St. in South Baltimore. Ammon and Associates is the architect.

Jan. 31 will bring one of the first public events at The Hall at Brown Center, a 500-seat performance space inside the glass-clad academic building that the Maryland Institute College of Art opened on Mount Royal Avenue last fall. The event includes a concert featuring jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Ziger/Snead and Charles Brickbauer designed Brown Center.

February brings completion of Polar Bear Watch, the newest exhibit at the Baltimore Zoo. Design Collective led the design team.

At Hopkins Hospital

Also in February, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will finish a 420,000-square-foot expansion that represents an investment of $100 million in East Baltimore. Named for New York mayor and former Johns Hopkins University board chairman Michael Bloomberg, the facility will have a formal opening in April. Ziger/Snead was the architect.

Spring is the target completion date for a $3.8 million expansion and upgrading of the Baltimore Conservatory in Druid Hill Park (design work by Kann & Associates) and the Mikulski Center, an educational and job-training center (and the first building named after Sen. Barbara Mikulski) on the grounds of the Living Classrooms Foundation. Alexander Design Studio and McLain Associates are the architects.

Late spring will bring the first phases of Stadium Place, a mixed-use community on the 30-acre 33rd Street parcel where Memorial Stadium once stood. Initial phases included a new branch of the YMCA, designed by Gaudreau Inc., and two residential buildings, the Venable Apartments and the Ednor Apartments, designed by Marks, Thomas and Associates.

In June, the Maryland Historical Society will open the final phase of its museum building on Park Avenue, a third-level gallery for furniture and decorative arts. Ziger/Snead is the building's architect.

In November, the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis will open a $3.5 million addition, designed by Cho Benn Holback.

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