No block of Baltimore will undergo a more dramatic transformation in the next two years than the north side of Orleans Street, between Broadway and Wolfe Street.
That's where Johns Hopkins Medicine is building an $800 million expansion that will become the institution's face for the 21st century.
Hopkins planning directors released a rendering showing that the glass and brick addition will have a contemporary look -- a contrast to the Victorian-era buildings along Broadway.
A 12-story adult hospital, a 12-story children's hospital and a common base providing a new main entrance to Hopkins' East Baltimore medical campus will rise on land previously occupied by a garage and other structures.
It is the largest single hospital construction project in Maryland and will drastically change both the appearance of the campus and the way Hopkins provides health care. Extensive use of glass will set it apart from other Hopkins buildings.
"Because the building is so large, we wanted to reduce the apparent mass by using glass on the towers," explained Michael Iati, director of architecture and planning for the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Demolition of the garage began last fall, after a large parking deck opened on the south side of Orleans Street. Also coming down is the old laundry at the northwest corner of Orleans and Wolfe streets. The demolition alone is changing the way Hopkins' medical campus will be perceived when approached from the south.
Although the expansion is being constructed all at once, it will look like more than one building. The western tower, containing intensive care facilities for adults, will be set back from Orleans Street. The eastern tower, containing the children's hospital, will have a curving glass facade that echoes a bend in Orleans Street. Both will form a composition with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building at the northeast corner of Broadway and Orleans.
Hopkins' new clinical building is being designed by Perkins & Will, a nationally prominent architecture firm with offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Hopkins hired the firm in 2004 after considering more than two dozen top health-care designers from around the country.
Sally MacConnell, vice president of facilities for the Johns Hopkins Health System, said site excavation will begin soon, and Hopkins is aiming to complete the expansion by July 2009.
She said Hopkins and its designers are working as quickly as possible to avoid escalating construction costs that can plague large-scale building projects.
"We're looking at [costs] very carefully," she said. "We have to move as fast as we can."
MacConnell and Iati said the project's scope has not changed substantially over the past year, but there have been refinements in the organization. For example, the children's hospital was originally conceived of as the Children's and Maternal Hospital and included an area for obstetrics. Obstetrics has since been moved to the adult tower, making the second tower more purely a setting for pediatric care.
Perkins & Will was originally hired to work with the Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF) of Portland, Ore. After the schematic design phase, ZGF left the team and Perkins & Will assumed responsibility for completing the design of the entire project.
ZGF partner Robert Frasca said the decision for ZGF not to remain on the team past the schematic design phase was reached mutually between his firm and Hopkins. He said it was based on a variety of factors, such as Hopkins' timetable, the budget and the volume of design work ZGF had with other clients.
Ralph Johnson, Eric vanAukee and Bob Cull lead the design effort for Perkins & Will, which was one of the designers of the $218 million Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The firm also designed the UCLA Medical Center.
MacConnell and Iati said they are confident that Perkins & Will is capable of handling the work. "There's always concern when you change horses," MacConnell said, but in this case "everybody is really comfortable."
Iati said Perkins & Wills' multiple offices and computer links can speed up the process because work can start in the New York office in the morning and be continued by the Los Angeles office as the day progresses. That way, he said, Hopkins gets a "12- to 16-hour day" of work from the firm, as opposed to an eight-hour day.