Midtown renaissance

The Baltimore Sun

With a total enrollment of more than 1,100 students, the University of Baltimore School of Law is the largest training ground for lawyers in Maryland. It offers day, evening and part-time programs that make it possible for students who work to complete their studies, and its graduates include a slew of top Maryland politicians, judges and lawyers, many of whom say they could never have entered the profession otherwise.

That's why we applaud Orioles owner and UB law school alumnus Peter G. Angelos' $5 million challenge grant toward construction of a new law center for the school. The proposed $107 million structure at Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue would enhance both the law school's footprint and Baltimore's midtown architectural landscape. The building, when completed in 2012, should complement other innovative designs in the area - such as the drum-shaped Gateway residence and futuristic Brown Center at nearby Maryland Institute College of Art - while avoiding embarrassments such as Penn Station's kitschy Man/Woman sculpture.

The law school has made great progress in upgrading entrance requirements and improving the performance of its graduates on state bar exams. This year, for example, 76 percent of UB law graduates passed the test on their first try. A new law center would build on those achievements.

Mr. Angelos' gift helped persuade the UM board of regents to approve the project. But the school still needs to raise $15 million to match the state's $93 million contribution. His challenge could bring in $10 million if other donors match it dollar for dollar.

Meanwhile, the Abell Foundation has pledged $150,000 to attract top-flight design talent for the project, a worthy investment. Coupled with Mr. Angelos' generosity, it gives UB a chance to build on its academic achievements and spur an architectural renaissance in a historic neighborhood.

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