Combining elements of old and new


AFTER MODERNIZING four apartment buildings in Baltimore's Charles Village area over the past five years, the Johns Hopkins University is coming to the rescue of the largest one yet.

The Homewood Apartments, a seven-story building at 3003 N. Charles St., is home to 230 students. But its plumbing and heating systems haven't been upgraded since it was built in the 1920s. It also needs energy-efficient windows and new elevators.

Hopkins recently selected consultants to explore the feasibility of upgrading Homewood's apartments while preserving its handsome brick exterior, designed by Edward Glidden. The university also wants to add retail and office space on the lower levels to supplement the apartments.

The project could cost anywhere from $14 million to $17 million. The goal is to ensure that the 187,000-square-foot, university-owned landmark can provide attractive and comfortable student housing well into the next century.

It would follow the precedent Hopkins set in the early 1990s with its renovations of Wolman, McCoy, Bradford and Ivy halls, all along St. Paul Street north of 33rd Street. Those four buildings now house 1,200 students, while retaining their pre-World War II appearances.

The consulting team for the Homewood Apartments is headed by Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and Frank Gant Architects. Mr. Gant guided the four other renovations.

University spokesman Dennis O'Shea said planning is in a preliminary stage and administrators hope to decide within the next month whether to proceed. If the consultants can work out a plan acceptable to the city, the surrounding community and the university trustees, he said, Hopkins would begin construction in mid-1996 and finish by mid-1997.

The refurbished apartments would be available for graduate students and upper-level undergraduates who want to live close to the Homewood campus but not in a dormitory. Current residents would have to find alternate housing during the construction period.

The building was constructed in three stages and is typical of work by Glidden, who also designed the International House apartments on Mount Royal Avenue, the Washington Place apartments overlooking Mount Vernon Square, and Furness House on South Street.

Mr. Gant said the apartments are very spacious by today's standards for student housing, with 1,400 to 1,500 square feet in a typical residence, including separate dining rooms.

By making each apartment slightly smaller and eliminating unnecessary corridor space, he said he believes that 140 apartments can be created on the upper four floors, providing room for 220 to 232 students -- comparable to the 230 bedrooms now on six levels. The lower three levels would contain offices and retail space.

"It's the same approach we took before: give the building new interiors that meet today's standards, while preserving the exterior," Mr. Gant said. "We're going to make the outside shine like it did when it was new."

Peter Blake to speak at Md. Historical Society

Architecture critic Peter Blake will be the guest speaker at the eighth annual Alexander S. Cochran Memorial Lecture at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St.

His topic will be "The Future Isn't What It Used to Be."

Tickets are $5 for members of the historical society and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, and $10 for all others.

Bromo Seltzer Tower next to brighten Baltimore

Baltimore's historic Bromo Seltzer Tower will become the next beacon on the downtown skyline, when Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke throws the switch Sept. 28 to light it permanently at night as part of the "Brighten Baltimore" campaign.

The city owns the building at 10 S. Eutaw St. and is funding the lighting -- a combination of white and cobalt blue lights -- to spur other building owners to illuminate their own structures.

The NationsBank tower and World Trade Center were lighted last year.

Five more buildings will be aglow by the end of this year: 250 W. Pratt St., 120 E. Baltimore St., the Brookshire Hotel at Lombard and Calvert streets, Charles Center South and Penn Station.

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