Reskinning a downtown skyscraper, Ivy Hotel Wins Award, Starbucks Coming to 10 Light Street, McKeldin Plaza design on display

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Rendering 225 Ca;vert St
Rendering of 225 North Calvert, a former bank building that is being converted into apartments.

Architects know there is more than one way to skin a skyscraper. One of the most unusual reskinning exercises is taking place right now in downtown Baltimore, where a former banking center from the 1960s is being converted to apartments.

The former bank building at 225 N. Calvert Street has reached a key stage in its transformation, where much of the old skin has been removed from the building in preparation for the installation of its new façade. One of the best vantage points to observe the change is from the Jones Falls Expressway, where drivers can see that the east side of the building has been completely opened up so its concrete skeleton is visible.

225 Calvert Street under construction.
225 N. Calvert under construction.  Photo by Ed Gunts.

Monument Realty of Washington, D. C., is turning the 18-story building into 346 apartments, 9,535 square feet of street-level commercial space, and parking for 433 cars at a reported cost of $75 million. Hord Coplan Macht is the architect for the project, called 225 North Calvert.

The design calls for the building to be reconstructed with a colorful, gridded exterior, with private balconies for most of the residences. Other amenities include a business center, conference rooms, pet care center, fitness rooms, club room and rooftop pool.

Part of what makes the building stand out is the Mondrian-like grid, which reveals the different floors in the building. The new façade consists of floor to ceiling glass and brightly colored vertical panels. About halfway up the building, one floor has higher ceilings than the other levels, and that has been accentuated as part of the design.

This is the first project in Baltimore for Monument, which has been active in the District of Columbia since 1998. The Calvert Street project is aimed at young professionals.

“Finding the perfect building to meet our needs to produce an apartment building that truly spoke to young professionals was not as easy as we hoped,” principal Michael Darby said in a company release. “But because 225 North Calvert is a complete gut and rebuild, we were able to design a unique façade that is really different from other buildings. Also, because it was an office building, which is wider than an apartment building, we were able to create balconies for nearly every unit. We also liked 225 North Calvert because the building is so tall, which creates incredible views for residents. Finally, the existing amenity that clinched it for us was the fact that the building has more parking than most other residential buildings in Baltimore.”

James G. Davis Construction Corp. is handling construction. A $47.4 million construction loan was provided by Citizens Bank N. A. and First Niagara Bank, N. A. Berg Corp. is handling demolition. EB5 Capital provided another $20 million in preferred equity. The apartments are scheduled for completion by late 2017.

Ivy Hotel receives national preservation award

Photo via the Garrett Hotel Consultants website.
The Ivy Hotel. Photo via the Garrett Hotel Consultants website.

The Ivy Hotel at Calvert and Biddle streets has received a national award for historic preservation. The Victorian Society in America, which promotes the preservation and reuse of 19th Century buildings and places, selected the Ivy Hotel’s owners to receive a 2016 preservation award for their sensitive renovation of the former Gilman/Painter mansion at 1129 North Calvert Street and adjacent row houses at 1125 and 1127 North Calvert Street for use as an 18-room inn and restaurant.

Ziger Snead Architects was the project architect. Azola Inc. was the general contractor, coordinating the work of more than 60 artisans and artists. The award was announced at the Victorian Society’s annual meeting this summer in Pasadena, California, and later presented during a separate ceremony in Baltimore.

Starbuck’s coming to 10 Light Street

A branch of Starbucks is coming to the recently opened apartment building at 10 Light Street (the former Bank of America tower), according to a sign in the window.  The coffee shop will occupy space at the corner of Baltimore and Light streets.

This is the second former bank location in the Baltimore area this summer to open a Starbucks, along with the former M&T Bank/Bradford Federal branch at York Road and Regester Avenue in Rodgers Forge. Whereas the 10 Light Street Starbucks will be on the first floor of the apartment tower, construction of the York Road Starbucks will involve demolition of the former Bradford Federal branch to make way for a new Starbucks.

Some area residents say they are concerned about the traffic patterns for the proposed coffee shop and drive-in on York Road because the intersection is used heavily by students walking to and from Dumbarton Middle School and other destinations.

Rendering shows proposed replacement for McKeldin Fountain

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The sign shows a rendering of McKeldin Fountain. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Signs have gone up on the construction fencing that surrounds the city’s McKeldin Fountain, showing a rendering of the “Phase 1” landscaping plan for the area after the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore moves ahead with its plans to demolish the fountain. Skywalks that connected the fountain to Harborplace and the Hyatt Regency Baltimore hotel were removed this summer as part of the demolition.

The designer of the replacement is an entity called Land Collective, which includes Philadelphia landscape architect David Rubin, a member of Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel. It shows a green area with plants and seating, in place of the 1982 fountain by Philadelphia architect Thomas Todd, part of the city‘s official inventory of public art .

“UNDER CONSTRUCTION. New McKeldin Plaza,” the signs state. “Phase 1 Landscaping Coming Soon!”

The last time a member of the city’s design review panel worked on a prominent Inner Harbor location, the late Mario Schack designed a two-story, peanut butter-colored visitor center for the USS Constellation, a building that drew widespread criticism for blocking the vessel it was meant to help promote. The design turned out poorly in part because the other review panel members went easy on their colleague, despite the building’s prominent location.

CVS about to open inside former Hippo nightclub on Charles Street

A new $1 million CVS store is expected to open next month inside the former Hippo nightclub building at Charles and Eager streets. Renovation work on the exterior has been completed, and the interior is getting new shelving and other store fixtures. The nightclub closed in early October of 2015, after 43 years in business.

Live entertainment approved for the Eagle

Baltimore’s Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals last week approved an application from The Baltimore Eagle to provide live entertainment for up to 215 people when the nightclub reopens at 2022 North Charles Street.

According to David Tanner, executive director of the zoning board, the nightclub operators originally sought permission to provide live entertainment for 800 people. After a previously-scheduled hearing was canceled, the board approved a plan to accommodate 215.

Apartment conversion plan falls through

A plan to convert a five-story office building at 31 Light Street to 32 apartments has fallen through, according to representatives of the city’s zoning board. The project was scheduled to be presented to the zoning board on August 23, but the developer, WRH Holdings, canceled the meeting after the sale was called off, city officials said.

1232 Druid Hill Avenue gets landmark support

Baltimore’s Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to designate the row house at 1232 Druid Hill Avenue a city landmark, in recognition of its ties to civil rights history. The building is a sister to the “Freedom House” at 1234 Druid Hill Avenue that served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders but was demolished last fall by its owner, Bethel AME Church. The designation of 1232 Druid Hill Avenue still must be approved by the Mayor and City Council before it becomes official.

Demolition at Your Door

A demolition sign has gone up on a two-story brick clad building in the 1100 block of South Charles Street, former home of a restaurant and catering business called Dinner at Your Door.  Berg Corp. is the contractor named on the sign.

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

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


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