Thursday, November 19, 2015

520 Park Development Success Spawns another Project

The success of the conversion of the rather not very attractive Hochschild Kahn warehouse into high end apartments is very welcome but rather unexpected.

Welcome, because it finally brings the northern edge of Baltimore's Westside (where I have my office) into play, surprising, because that northern edge has so much blight that it didn't look like a bland building could easily turn things around.
520 Park Ave is the large rectangle with courtyard at
the top of the image. The new project is located
south (below) the atrium building on the surface
parking lot.

But the Time Group and Dominic Wiker together with Marks Thomas Architects' creative design have done just that. First the apartments, then the Ceremony coffee shop, then the Mt Vernon Marketplace and now the next strike: 153 new apartments, a pool and some retail will be added to fill the prominent corner of  West Franklin Street and Park Avenue, currently defined by the Pratt Library for the Blind and the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and tow vacant lots with surface parking.

Alexander Design Studio and Floura Teeter landscape architects presented the revised schematic design to UDARP last Thursday and were approved for the final review of complete working drawings in the next round.

UDARP had rejected the first submission of schematic concepts for being somewhat over the top, something that was unusual for UDARP typically encouraging designers to be more courageous.
A view of the proposed L shaped apartment (looking south-west) building
 with Park Ave and the pool in the foreground

The new design approach is more subdued, has subtle references to the Kohn warehouse and gives up on a large black sign band facing traffic coming down Franklin Street. It also reduced the splash for the pool house along Park Avenue. There will a bio-retention courtyard for green stormwater management.

The parking level placed underneath the L shaped six story building replacing some of the surface parking makes an attractive facade along Franklin Street difficult. Pedestrians there have to be contend with a jumbo concrete block wall topped by a screened opening providing a band of ventilation towards the street. There will otherwise be sheet metal on the first floor facade and a hard stucco on the upper levels. Some bedroom windows are setback with a sloping sill and recessed lights washing the opening at night. (Not sure how much occupants will cherish that feature).
The corner at Park and Franklin with the entrance tucked into the recess

The facade facing Franklin Street. The first floor is rather unattractive due to the parking level behind 

The entrance to the apartment building is tucked to the side of the building near the corner of park Avenue, sliding in next to the parking level and leading into a skinny lobby with a clear-story getting light from higher up.
UDARP panelist were generally appreciative of the new design, although David Haresign observed that there was an awful lot of solid wall in the overall facade.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA


BBJ article from May 15, 2015
BBJ article Nov 12, 2015

Typical floor plan (upper levels). 

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