JUST AS construction crews finish work on one major academic building, the University of Maryland's downtown Baltimore campus is about to grow again.
Administrators yesterday kicked off a week of festivities to mark the opening of the Health Sciences Facility, a $55.8 million research complex for the medical school and other departments.
They expect to break ground by year's end for the Health Sciences Library and Information Services Building, a $24 million resource center at the southwest corner of Pratt and Greene streets.
The six-story, 180,000-square-foot library is part of a $500 million to $1 billion effort by university officials to turn the downtown campus into a center for the life sciences.
Designed by a venture of Design Collective of Baltimore and Perry Dean Rogers & Partners of Boston, the building will replace a smaller library that dates from 1960, and other scattered facilities.
When it opens in late 1997, it is expected to be one of the most sophisticated library and information technology centers in the country, consolidating the university's health sciences library with a new central computer facility that will serve the entire campus.
The West Baltimore campus, known as UniversityCenter, is a training ground for physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals, with a daily population of more than 10,000. Architects describe the building as "a new cornerstone" for the campus, combining aspects of a traditional library with new technologies geared for medical education and health care services.
Besides the central computer, program elements include a 200-person conference center; technology-assisted learning centers; microcomputer teaching laboratories; an information systems computer center; a 500,000-volume library; a media center; display space for rare and historical medical books; staff offices; and support services.
Walls will be clad in limestone, granite, brick and cast stone, and a curved copper roof will conceal mechanical equipment. The building's most distinctive feature will be a large cylindrical "drum" near the corner of Greene and Lombard streets.
The cylinder will contain reading rooms, a lounge and other spaces where students can gather. At the top will be a meeting room for the university's trustees.
Building of the Year announced by architects
The $90 million Homer Gudelsky Building designed by the Zeidler Roberts Partnership, another recent addition to UniversityCenter, has been named "Public Building of the Year" in the design awards program sponsored by the Maryland Society of the American Institute of Architects.
Other award-winning projects include the East Columbia branch library, by Grimm & Parker; and Donna's at the BMA, by Ziger/Snead with Keith Mehner. Ayers Saint Gross won a merit award for a science building at the University of Delaware. Murphy and Dittenhafer won a citation for the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center in York, Pa.
Country houses to open for tour Oct. 21
Five of Baltimore's best-known country houses -- Mount Clare Mansion, Homewood House, Clifton, Upton and Evergreen House -- will be open for a public tour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 21.
The Baltimore Architecture Foundation and the Historic Houses of the Johns Hopkins University are sponsoring the tour, which starts at 1 p.m. at Evergreen, 4545 N. Charles St. The cost is $30 for Evergreen and architecture foundation members and $35 for others. Also included is a stop at the Baltimore Museum of Art's Oval Room from Willow Brook, a house that no longer exists. Local architects Michael Trostel and David Gleason will discuss the evolution of Baltimore's country houses in a slide lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Evergreen. The cost is $5 per person. To reserve space for either event, call 516-0341.