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University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore to get a new face

University of Maryland Medical Center officials presented three designs Thursday for the new cancer center addition to the hospital that will remake its face fronting Greene Street in downtown Baltimore.
University of Maryland Medical Center officials presented three designs Thursday for the new cancer center addition to the hospital that will remake its face fronting Greene Street in downtown Baltimore. (Meredith Cohn / Baltimore Sun)

A planned new, 10-story cancer center at the University of Maryland Medical Center will transform the appearance of the front of the decades-old hospital building on the west side of downtown Baltimore.

The cubic glass and steel structure will rise above what is now the hospital’s driveway and main entrance off Greene Street, covering the existing building’s brick, institutional look.

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Hospital officials announced a year ago that the medical center had received a $25 million gift from Baltimore auto dealer Len Stoler and his wife Roslyn that will cover a portion of the costs of the expansion to the hospital’s Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The donation, the largest in the hospital’s history, would allow the center to better accommodate a patient population that has tripled in the last 14 years.

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“You won’t see this side of the hospital anymore,” said Linda Whitmore, the medical center’s director of project development, after officials presented design alternatives for the building to a city architecture review panel as part of the approval process. “This is our new face.”

The building will be new but function as an addition to the existing hospital. The driveway and hospital’s main lobby will remain in the same place, though they will undergo extensive renovations, with the building constructed two stories above it.

The University of Maryland Medical Center's current front door and facade facing Greene Street in downtown Baltimore.
The University of Maryland Medical Center's current front door and facade facing Greene Street in downtown Baltimore. (Amy Davis)

The building is not expected to break ground for another 12 to 18 months and likely will take three years to build. It’s expected to be about 170,000 square feet, and officials last year estimated the cost to be $175 million to $200 million. The hospital previously said the state has committed $125 million in funds for the new facility. Gov. Larry Hogan was treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the cancer center.

Architects from the Arlington office of HDR came up with a dozen versions of the building and presented three of them Thursday to the city’s Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel. All were designed to highlight the prominent block on Greene and Baltimore streets, a “high visibility” corner, said Kent Bonner, a design principal at the firm.

Panel members liked that the hospital would fill out the large block with a modern aesthetic but expressed concern about pedestrian access.

The driveway is already so crowded that Maryland officials said they may seek to establish a new automobile entrance on the Baltimore side of the hospital to ease congestion and require staff to enter the building from another point.

“I’m not sure of the best place for the entrance,” said Pavlina Ilieva, chairwoman of the design panel, who suggested separating pedestrian and auto traffic, perhaps by moving the front door to Baltimore Street. “You don’t want pedestrians surrounded by idling cars.”

Maryland officials were open to suggestions, though Whitmore noted the hospital address is 22 S. Greene St., and officials wouldn’t want to confuse patients with a door on another street. There also are a number of bus stops on Baltimore Street.

The new cancer center will enable patients battling the disease to receive all their care in one facility rather than throughout the hospital as they do now. When the center was announced last year, Dr. Kevin J. Cullen, director of the Greenebaum cancer center, said it adds to patient stress to have to find their way all over the hospital campus for treatment.

"The goal is to bring everything under one roof so that it is easy for patients to navigate,” Cullen, also a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said at the time.

The hospital’s application for a so-called “certificate of need” for the new cancer center is pending still with the Maryland Health Care Commission, but officials expect it to be approved next year.

The addition will not substantially increase the number of patient beds at the hospital but would overhaul many of those that are not private or that would lose windows because of the new building.

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The cancer center will have three floors of inpatient beds with the remainder dedicated to now more common outpatient services.

The building also will be able to accommodate adding three more floors should the hospital decide in the future that it needs more space for any centers or departments. This is the last open space the hospital owns on the downtown campus.

“We want this building to be forward looking, like the medicine,” Whitmore said.

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