Architect hired by developers of 'medical mart'


Developers of a giant "medical mart" proposed for downtown Baltimore have hired one of the country's best known architects, Michael Graves of Princeton, N.J., as part of an effort to assess whether to build their project in the Camden Yards area rather than near Federal Hill, as originally planned.

Richard Swirnow, a member of the medical-mart development team, said this week that his group has asked Mr. Graves to suggest ways to develop a 6-acre strip of land just east of the 1,016-foot-long B&O; warehouse, which is being renovated as part of the Camden Yards stadium complex.

Representatives for the Maryland Stadium Authority are planning to issue a request soon for proposals for that property, and Mr. Swirnow's group has expressed interest in using it as the site for a large trade center for medical products and meeting place for medical professionals.

Mr. Swirnow also heads a group that is building the $600 million HarborView condominium complex along Key Highway.

Other members of the medical-mart team, city officials say, include representatives from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; Parkway Holdings Ltd. of Singapore; and West Coast trade-center expert David Morse.

Mr. Graves, who designed the Humana Corp. headquarters in Louisville and the Swan and Dolphin hotels at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., among other well-publicized buildings, previously worked with Mr. Swirnow's group to study ways to fit the proposed medical mart on 7 acres called the propeller yard that Mr. Swirnow's group controls on Key Highway at the foot of Federal Hill.

Designs for that site never were unveiled, but news of the project elicited concerns from South Baltimore residents, who feared that too large a building would block views of and from Federal Hill.

More recently, Mr. Swirnow has begun exploring the possibility of using land next to the B&O; warehouse and near the Baltimore Convention Center as the site for the medical mart, while leaving the Inner Harbor site as an alternative.

Mr. Swirnow said Mr. Graves also is exploring ways to combine a medical mart with the proposed expansion of the Convention Center on the site of Festival Hall.

As part of those explorations, he said, the architect is studying the feasibility of constructing a large new hotel next to or above any Convention Center addition.

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