Van Meter Hall is modernized Goucher: The college's first building in Towson has been updated for 21st-century use.


WHEN GOUCHER College moved from midtown Baltimore to Towson starting in the late 1940s, the first academic building on its new campus was Van Meter Hall.

As the college grew over the years, the building became outmoded because it lacked high-tech features such as laptop computer connections and classrooms designed for multimedia presentations and teleconferencing.

But this fall it is ready for another 50 years of service, after a $5.5 million expansion and modernization that enables it to accommodate the college's expanded curriculum and teaching methods.

"Educational needs and expectations have changed significantly since Van Meter Hall was built more than four decades ago," said Goucher President Judy Jolley Mohraz. "The renovations are part of our commitment to keep pace with those changing needs while remaining committed to small classes and personalized instruction."

The renovation of Van Meter Hall, designed by Ziger/Snead Inc. of Baltimore, has been selected to receive a design award in the 1998 awards program sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The awards ceremony will begin at 6: 30 p.m. tomorrow at the Ravens stadium in Camden Yards.

The additions "substantially improve the siting, building form and scale of a difficult existing building," the judges said. A new stair tower becomes "a marker in the campus" as well as "a locating element" for those inside.

Van Meter Hall was named for John Blackford Van Meter, Goucher president from 1911 to 1913. Completed in 1949 and clad in Goucher's signature Butler stone, it is the college's primary humanities classroom and faculty office building.

College planners hired Ziger/Snead to design new classrooms, a lecture hall, film studio, meeting and lounge space, faculty offices and mechanical equipment rooms. They also wanted to update mechanical, electrical and safety systems.

The architects responded with three additions that reflect the architectural character of the existing building and relate to the materials, forms and scale of Goucher's campus. The entry addition, with its three-story stair tower in Butler stone, helps define a new outdoor "room" at the end of a campus walkway that links academic buildings with student residences.

Architect Steve Ziger said one of the design team's primary goals was to encourage collegial interaction through the creation of indoor and outdoor gathering spaces.

"One of the traits we see in the architecture at Goucher is that it has an informality to it, so we responded with informality. It's not a monumental approach," Ziger said.

Other design team members are Leigh Anne Jones, Jeff Morgan and Franklyn Lucas.

The informal meeting spaces have been well-received by students and faculty, and the interior is "a lot brighter," said Linda Barone, project manager for Goucher. "I've gotten almost nothing but good response" about the changes, she said.

Founded in 1885 as the Women's College of Baltimore City, Goucher was renamed for the Rev. John Franklin Goucher in 1910 and now has more than 1,100 students. Van Meter Hall was renovated using funds from a state grant and the college's Legacy of Excellence campaign, which has raised $47.3 million since 1994.

AIA presents awards for design tomorrow

Goucher's building is one of two completed projects that will receive design awards at tomorrow's AIA ceremony. The second is the Frederick Ozanam House, a transitional housing and homeless services center in East Baltimore. It was designed by Murphy & Dittenhafer Inc. for the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Baltimore.

Two unbuilt projects also were selected for design awards: an office and studio for designers in Ellicott City by Alexander Design Studio, headed by Charles Alexander, and a residence and studio by Read & Company, headed by Fritz Read.

Projects selected for honorable mention awards include: a $31.5 million expansion at Villa Julie College in Baltimore County, by Ziger/Snead; the Rouse-Flick Learning Tower on the Living Classrooms Foundation's campus at 802 S. Caroline St., by RTKL Associates; and an Archaeological Conservation Facility at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, by Ayers Saint Gross.

Also, a theater for St. Louis, Mo., designed by Laura Amos, and two more unbuilt residences by Alexander Design Studio.

Seventy-nine projects were submitted, and a grand award will be announced during the ceremony. Ticket information is available at 410-625-2585.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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