Reshaping Baltimore from the ground up


October 23, 2005

Last week was Baltimore Architecture Week, and many architects here spent it celebrating the healthy state of their craft in this region, with commercial and residential developments under way in every direction.

The continued rebirth of neighborhoods bordering on the city's Inner Harbor has provided a creative nexus for many, and if there is a theme to current architectural work here it is the creative melding of new and old.

The recent and pending work of three busy local architects are representative of this trend.


Parameter Inc.

Chris Pfaeffle of Parameter Inc. is busy these days helping to shape proposals for the potential redevelopment of Westport's waterfront, a 50-acre swath along the Middle Branch in South Baltimore that is being pitched as "Harbor West," the latest addition to the city's booming harbor- oriented development.

Pfaeffle is working with Inner Harbor West LLC, which has purchased the former Carr-Lowery glass manufacturing plant on Kloman Street and has a contract on the adjacent 12-acre site of a closed Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. power plant, also on Kloman. Pfaeffle is also the project architect for the Canal Street Malt House, a new luxury condominium loft building developed from a former malt warehouse at the corner of Bank Street and Central Avenue in Fells Point.

He is also designing the transformation of a former 290-foot grain elevator in Locust Point into 208 upscale condominiums, a project of Henrietta Development Corp. that is awaiting approval by the city Planning Commission, and he has been working on an effort to design a more inviting face for the Mechanic Theatre complex, one of Baltimore's earliest redevelopment efforts.


Alexander Design Studio

Charles Alexander of Alexander Design Studio won a residential design award last week from the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects for a modern Bethany Beach house that the judges praised as "inviting and exciting."

The Ellicott City architect was the designer of plans for a new workforce development center for the Living Classrooms Foundation on the Inner Harbor waterfront, a Loyola College spiritual retreat center, an admissions building for Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and an array of distinctive country homes across this region.

Alexander has won awards for a number of other efforts, including St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Montgomery County, the Beth El Congregation's chapel in Baltimore County, an extension of the Roland Park library and the recent renovation of a southeast Baltimore middle school.

A graduate of Cornell and Yale, Alexander says he enjoys the diversity of his work and gets particular pleasure out of creating new buildings with strong character that harmonize well with existing structures.


Dianne Rohrer, an interior designer, and her partner, architect Paul Riley, were honored by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects with architecture and interior design awards for their innovative design that turned a former Hess shoe store into an upscale restaurant called Taste on Baltimore's Belvedere Avenue.

Rohrer says her firm's strength is creating projects with a strong sense of place - be it commercial, institutional or residential.

The pair won awards from the American Association of Interior Designers for revitalizing a vacant Victorian brewery basement with a flexible and modern senior housing project on Gay Street in Baltimore that required extensive consultation with city officials, the Baltimore Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, and local seniors.

They also were honored by the interior designers group for their lively renovation of the once-sleepy Levering Hall lobby at the Johns Hopkins University. Students wanted new elements to mesh with the hall's traditional design, so the designers relied on the column grid as the framework for laying out custom wooden console tables surrounded by a mix of seating.

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