Nurses' 'gateway to future' to open Celebration: Names of the giants of nursing are inscribed on pillars of the new University of Maryland School of Nursing, to be dedicated Saturday evening.


NIGHTINGALE, DIX, Barton, Mahoney, Parsons, Wald, Petry.

A new downtown law firm? No, they're key figures in the annals of nursing history: Florence Nightingale, Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Mary Mahoney, Louisa Parsons, Lillian Wald and Lucille Petry.

Their names have been inscribed for all to see on the exterior of the new University of Maryland School of Nursing that will be dedicated this weekend on the university's downtown Baltimore campus.

"They're the pillars of modern nursing, so we wanted their names above the pillars of our new building," said Barbara R. Heller, dean of the school. "It symbolizes our desire to build on the past as we prepare for the future."

Construction workers have been racing this week to put the finishing touches on the $38 million building in time for a gala dedication celebration for 950 people beginning at 6: 30 p.m. Saturday. It's the first time most students, faculty or alumni will have had a chance to look inside the seven-story building, which Heller calls "the gateway to our future."

Located at 655 W. Lombard St., the 154,000-square-foot building is the latest of several to be completed as part of the university's $1 billion campaign to transform the Baltimore campus into a center for the life sciences.

Designed by RCG Inc. of Baltimore and Ballinger of Philadelphia, it's an addition to the old five-story School of Nursing at Lombard and Penn streets. It was constructed to accommodate recent growth at the school, which has nearly 1,500 students and 120 full-time faculty members.

Construction began two years ago, with Barton Malow as construction manager. The school will move in gradually after Thanksgiving. The building will be ready for use by Jan. 1.

Clad in brick and cast stone, the addition has been set back from Lombard Street to create a landscaped courtyard that will be one of the few large green spaces on the downtown campus.

Interior features include a 465-seat auditorium, one of the largest on campus; a nurse-managed clinic that will serve the community while doubling as a training site for nurse practitioner programs; and interactive video technology that will link the school with satellite teaching facilities in Maryland and beyond.

The building was designed so faculty offices face north and most instructional spaces are on the south side. Floors two to six contain technologically advanced learning labs that simulate a variety of health care settings, including intensive care units. By the end of next year, a 950-square-foot space on the second jTC level will contain a museum showcasing the school's role in nursing history.

Jonathan Fishman, design principal for RCG, said a key part of the design was to combine research labs, teaching space and faculty offices on the same floor, so students and faculty would be encouraged to work together.

He said designers also tried to infuse the building with symbolism, to underscore the school's rich history. It was founded in 1889 by Louisa Parsons, a student of Florence Nightingale, and for many years all students wore caps called "Flossies."

The lobby is clad in "Jerusalem stone" imported from Israel, a reference to the school's close ties with the Henrietta Szold Hadassah Hebrew University School of Nursing in Israel. (The University of Maryland is collaborating with the Israeli school in the development of a clinical masters' program, and Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold grew up on West Lombard Street.)

The new building's main entrance is marked by a tower whose top echoes the octagonal cap of the 1933 hospital tower across the street. The form was repeated to make a strong visual connection between the hospital and the nursing school.

On the Lombard Street facade, metal panels depict a St. George's Cross with a serpent, representing wisdom, entwined around a chalice. It's an enlarged version of the 1894 emblem on the pins given to nurses when they graduate -- a way to enrich the exterior while reinforcing the building's link with nursing. "We wanted to make sure it can't be mistaken for a dental school or a law school," Fishman said.

Baltimore native David Bennett, with EDAW Inc. of Virginia, designed the courtyard. Other members of RCG's design team were Howard Downing, Peter Murr, David Perkins and Dana Hunter.

Fishman credited Heller with having the vision and will to create an innovative facility that can prepare nurses to work in a rapidly changing health care environment.

"She spurred us on," he said. "This is one of the major nursing schools in the country, and the dean really wanted it to have a strong image on campus. She wanted it to reflect the stature of the school."

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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