Former AAA building transformed for college Winner: The design for space for the Maryland Institute, College of Art will receive the Grand Design Award in this year's design competition.


FROM THE outside, the four-story building at 1401 Mount Royal Ave. in Baltimore doesn't look much different from when it housed offices of the American Automobile Association.

But its interior has been altered dramatically to provide educational spaces for the Maryland Institute, College of Art, including a new library, classrooms and faculty offices.

That transformation, designed by Ziger/Snead Inc., was selected to receive the Grand Design Award in the 1998 design competition sponsored by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

"An inventive solution," the judges said. "This project is very clear conceptually."

The award was the highest of 11 given during ceremonies last week at the Ravens stadium at Camden Yards. The judges were New York architects Max Bond, Kathryn Dean and Ed Mills.

The former office building, now known as the Bunting Center, was acquired by the college in 1995 and converted at a cost of $5.5 million to a multidisciplinary building that would be a focus of student activities on the Maryland Institute campus. Its conversion is the final phase of an eight-year expansion by the college, funded with the help of a $22.2 million capital campaign.

According to architect Steve Ziger, a large open court was created on the first floor to echo the grand court in the college's historic Main Building across the street and to work similarly as a place for students to meet and interact with faculty members and visiting artists.

"The design sprang from the main building, which has a sculptural stair within a large volume of space," Ziger said. The new interior is "a modern interpretation of what's happening in the main building."

The first-floor court contains student services such as a mail room, lounge, cafe, gallery and lecture room as well as the entrance to the new Decker Library. Clear glass and translucent plastic panels are used to blur the boundaries between the lobby and the library and to encourage students to use the collections. A new stairway brings patrons down to stack and reading areas on the basement level and acts as a lantern to illuminate the spaces there.

The jurors particularly admired the way the architects created a "frame within a frame" that refers to the older building. In addition to Ziger, design team members included Leigh Anne Jones, Jim Sebring and Julie Gabrielli. Ziger/Snead also designed a new master plan for the Maryland Institute.

Upper floors of the Bunting Center house computer graphics studios, faculty offices, an academic resource center and workrooms. A new entrance connects the building with an outdoor area.

Meetings, lectures set this month

The New Urbanism movement in architecture and urban design is the subject of an 18-part video series that the Midtown Community Benefits District is presenting Fridays at noon, starting tomorrow at 1221 N. Calvert St. Information: 410-528-1512.

Baltimore County historian John McGrain will present a slide show of Towson in the late 1950s at 7: 30 p.m. Monday at Blake Auditorium, Blakehurst Retirement Center, 1055 W. Joppa Road. The free program, which is open to the public, is part of Historic Towson Inc.'s annual meeting. Information: 410-832-1776.

The Citizens Planning and Housing Association will hold its 57th annual meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Everyman Theatre, 1727 N. Charles St. Mary Gonzales, director of the Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations in Chicago, will be the keynote speaker for the meeting, which will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. Information: 410-539-1369.

St. Michael and All Angels Church, St. Paul and 20th streets in Baltimore, will be the setting for a "Jazz in Cool Places" concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 13. The featured performer is the Steve Berrios Quintet, a Latin jazz group. Ticket information: 410-235-9733.

Preservation Maryland will hold its annual meeting at 5: 30 p.m. Nov. 18 at 24 W. Saratoga St. in Baltimore. The featured speaker will be Edward McMahon, director of the American Greenways Program and Maryland adviser to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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