City to review office building design


Baltimore's Architectural Review Board will have its first meeting this week with the developer and designers of what might be Baltimore's next large office building, a proposed $97 million headquarters for the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration, but details of the design are being kept secret.

The review panel is scheduled to meet tomorrow morning with the developers for the project, a group headed by the Rouse Co., Whiting Turner Contracting Co. and Daniel P. Henson III, and representatives of the project architect, Stubbins Associates Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

According to David Gillece, president of Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc., the agency that coordinates downtown development, the review session involving the HCFA building will be closed to reporters at the request of the developers.

It is the first time a review board session has been closed since city officials agreed to open meetings of Baltimore's Architectural Review Board to reporters last year after lengthy discussions between city officials and editors of The Baltimore Sun.

According to Mr. Gillece, the HCFA building developers asked that the review session be closed because they are competing against half a dozen Baltimore County developers for the right to build a 664,000-square-foot headquarters for the federal agency and don't want details about their proposed building to be made public before the mid-October deadline for bids. Mr. Gillece said that review session is the only part of the meeting that will be closed.

The city has reserved a site bounded by Pratt, Camden, Paca and Eutaw streets for the proposed federal building. The Rouse HTC team recently selected a team headed by Stubbins to design the building.

HCFA occupies a series of buildings in the Woodlawn section of Baltimore County. Federal officials are expected to select a site and development team several months after the bids are submitted. About 3,300 employees will work in the new center.

* Around the region:

* RTKL Associates Inc. was the lead firm of one of 10 international teams chosen to participate in an urban design consultation to extend the historic axis of Paris west of the Grand Arch at La Defense. After an extensive review by a 23-member design jury this month, the RTKL team's urban design plan came in fourth, an indication that it most likely will not be implemented in full. However, the reports of all 10 teams will be assembled and published by the French government.

* The Rite Aid store at the northeast corner of Baltimore and Calvert streets is planning to expand into the vacant building at 3 N. Calvert St., a structure most recently occupied by Yorkridge-Calvert Savings and Loan Association. Plans will be presented to Baltimore's Architectural Review Board at its meeting tomorrow.

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