Rendering of the Langsdale Library

A local landmark is changing its look.

Contractors have stripped the skin off the old Langsdale Library at the University of Baltimore in preparation for its $20.5 million renovation and reconstruction as a “learning center” for the 21st century.

A key exterior feature will be a new skin that has been designed to make the four-story building more energy efficient than it was when it opened in 1965. It is intended to have a visual connection to the university’s metal-clad John and Frances Angelos Law Center, which is two blocks away and was designed by the same architect.

Inside, the 50,000-square-foot building at 1420 Maryland Avenue will be rebuilt as a learning center for the campus, reflecting current trends in education and library design.

This is the second building on the University of Baltimore campus by Behnisch Architekten, a German firm that won a competition to design the Law Center, which opened in 2013. Behnisch designed the Law Center with Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore. It does not have a local partner on the Langsdale project, which is expected to be completed in 2017. Plano Coudon is the general contractor.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership with UB and to move forward with the vision for updating such a highly visible building,” said Robert Matthew Noblett, a partner at Behnisch. “The new Langsdale Library will not only serve as a much-needed update but will transform Langsdale Library from its traditional function into a state-of-the-art learning center for the 21st century.”

“The transformation of the building respects the memory and history of the original library design while simultaneously modernizing it to meet contemporary research, scholarship, archival, and environmental demands,” said Neb Sertsu, Vice President of Facilities Management and Capital Planning at the University of Baltimore. “It is also primarily funded by the State of Maryland and represents a significant investment in our campus, which we appreciate.”

According to the architects, the renovation is designed to reflect the ways that today’s students learn. On the west side of the building, an area formerly occupied by an auditorium will be transformed into a new academic and public space with the addition of a Glass Hall, including a four-story atrium that will serve as a gathering space and a new entrance from Oliver Street. The Glass Hall and a plaza at its base are intended to make Oliver Street more pleasant as a pedestrian corridor and link to the Bolton Hill neighborhood to the west.

With its new facades, the building is expected to consume almost two-thirds less energy than before, making it one of the most energy efficient buildings in the city.

Hopkins loan initiative supports “high impact” development

Baltimore got an early Christmas present this month when the Johns Hopkins University announced a $10 million loan program that’s designed to help finance “high impact” neighborhood revitalization projects in certain areas where traditional funding may not be available.

According to the Hopkins Hub website, the Central Baltimore Future Fund is an extension of the Homewood Community Partners Initiative, a community-driven strategy that Hopkins launched in 2012 to strengthen Abell, Barclay, Charles North, Charles Village, Greenmount West, Harwood, Oakenshawe, Remington, and Wyman Park.

The Homewood Community Partners Initiative works with individuals and associations from those neighborhoods by investing in projects to improve schools, safety, and public spaces, with the goal of attracting 3,000 new households by 2022.

The Central Baltimore Future Fund will provide loans to developers and building owners who are seeking to build or restore high-impact projects.

Telesis Corporation, a developer from Washington, D.C., is the first company to take advantage of the program, using the financing to renovate 12 row homes in the Barclay neighborhood. Construction has begun, and the project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2017.

Fund investors include the Abell Foundation, Anne E. Casey Foundation, City of Baltimore, First Mariner Bank, Goldseker Foundation, Howard Bank, Johns Hopkins University, Living Cities Foundation, M&T Bank, MECU, PNC Bank, and Rosedale Federal Bank.

“This fund speaks about the future, and it is this idea of the future we are building together that is so important to us at Hopkins,” said University President Ron Daniels.

“I cannot be more excited about this kind of investment,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, according to the Hub. “But these kinds of things don’t happen by themselves. And that’s why the partnerships of the banks and the organizations that have come around the Central Baltimore Future Fund are so important. Because this is how we transform neighborhoods and communities. It’s working together.”

Potential buyer has emerged for the Baltimore Sun headquarters

A potential buyer has emerged for The Baltimore Sun’s headquarters at 501 North Calvert Street and an adjacent garage at 601 North Calvert Street.

According to the newspaper’s Natalie Sherman, the two properties are under contract to Atapco Properties of Baltimore, owner of the Blaustein Building on Charles Street and other holdings.

The Sun leases the Calvert Street properties from Tribune Media of Chicago and is expected to continue to lease them under a new owner. No date has been given for the sale to become final.

Atapco is the second potential buyer to emerge this year for the Sun properties. Several months ago, developer Mark Sapperstein disclosed that he was exploring a purchase. He later said he would back away because he was too busy with other projects.

One change that would add value to the real estate would be the acquisition by Atapco of part of a city street that runs along the east side of 501 North Calvert, a service lane that is part of Guilford Avenue but separated from the main road.

The Sun used to receive delivery of newsprint via railroad cars that crossed Guilford Avenue before its printing presses were moved to Port Covington. The railroad tracks have been removed from Guilford Avenue, and the city owns the street bed. If the city sold the service lane, the Sun property would have a larger footprint for possible redevelopment, without substantially altering traffic flow, and the city would receive an infusion of revenue.

The idea of buying the street bed was suggested to at least one previous publisher, Mike Waller. But Waller reportedly told colleagues that he did not want to pursue the idea because The Sun covers city government and he didn’t want the news organization to be in the position of asking city officials to approve any kind of transaction that might be seen as a favor or a conflict of interest. Atapco, as a developer, might not have the same reservations.

Redevelopment eyed for Charles Street property

Brewer’s Art building

The four-story building at 1106-1108 North Charles Street, home of The Brewer’s Art restaurant, could be Charles Street’s next renovation project, if an out-of-town investor moves ahead with plans to buy the building and renovate it.

Ron Diller, a businessman from Israel with an address in Westminster, Maryland, has a contract to buy the building from the heirs of architect Leo D’Aleo, who died earlier this year. Diller has asked the city’s zoning board to approve a plan to convert the upper floors from offices to 12 residences, including nine efficiencies and three one-bedroom apartments.

According to Al Barry of A. B. Associates, the developer’s local representative, Diller is planning to invest more than $100,000 per unit to create the apartments, making the investment more than $1 million. Diller plans to upgrade the mechanical systems, replace the roof and make other improvements, and he very much wants The Brewer’s Art to stay in the building, Barry said. Justin Seto of SETO Architects would design the project, Barry said.

Baltimore’s zoning board was scheduled to consider the plan during a meeting last week, but the item was postponed. Barry said community representatives asked the buyer to postpone the meeting until they could get more information about the construction phase and how it would affect the restaurant and others. A new hearing date has not been scheduled.

Expansion planned for the Music Center at Strathmore Hall

The Music Center at Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, one of two locations regularly used by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has plans for a $10 million, 5,000-square-foot expansion that will add more space for meetings, performances, and dining before concerts. Grimm and Parker is the architect for the project, which has a target completion date of early 2020. The state of Maryland is contributing $3 million.

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.