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Rouse Co. to guide children's project


The Rouse Co. has been named to furnish development management services for the National Children's Center planned for the Market Place corridor in Baltimore.

Rouse is the nationally known developer of Harborplace and many other urban revitalization projects. Douglas Becker and Janet Marie Smith, officers of the nonprofit group planning the Market Place project, said Rouse will play a role similar to the one it had in the development of Columbus Center, the $160 million research and education facility nearing completion on Piers 5 and 6.

For that building, which will receive its first occupants later this month, a Rouse affiliate was paid a fee to coordinate the work of various design and construction team members so the project could be completed on time and on budget.

For the museum project, Ms. Smith said, planners also hope to draw on Rouse's expertise in urban development so the Market Place area will draw people. Rouse will not be an investor in or owner of the project.

The largest single phase of the children's center, tentatively called Port Discovery, is a $25 million children's museum planned for the shell of the former Fishmarket entertainment complex on Market Place.

The complex also will include a National Children's Center, with offices for children's advocacy groups and other nonprofit organizations that work with children, and child-related retail space. That part of the project is planned for the former Brokerage shopping complex at 34 Market Place. A "candy factory" and museum planned by Mary Sue Candies is also under study.

Mr. Becker announced this week that the lead designer for the Port Discovery complex will be Schwartz/Silver Architects, a Boston-based firm that designed the Crayola Discovery Museum in Easton, Pa., and worked with Frank O. Gehry Associates to design an expansion to the Children's Museum in Boston. Schwartz/Silver will be assisted by Cho, Wilks and Benn, a Baltimore-based firm that has extensive experience in rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of old buildings.

The primary construction management will be a joint venture of Barton Malow Co., Banks Contracting Co. and NAMCO Services. It will be assisted by the joint venture of Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse and Essex Construction.

Two key positions still to be filled are the exhibit designer and the president of the project. Michael Spock, former director of the Children's Museum in Boston, has been named interim president while the firm of Russell Reynolds Associates conducts a nationwide search for a president.

Museum planners, who interviewed half a dozen exhibit design specialists in January, said they hope to announce their selection in the near future.

The first phase of the museum is expected to open by 1997, the 200th anniversary of Baltimore's incorporation. Initial funding is being provided by a $2 million grant from the state of Maryland and a $3 million grant from NationsBank.

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