Thursday, October 18, 2018

Why the demolition of historic buildings remains a bad idea

Awareness of the value of historic preservation for urban design, economic development and the authenticity of cities has dramatically increased since the days when New York City thought nothing of demolishing its beautiful Pennsylvania railroad station.
Architect Philip Johnson and Aline Saarinen  protesting demolition
of Pennsylavia Station in New York, the beginning of the modern
US preservation movement

Baltimore has one of the largest collections of historically designated buildings in the country; for all of the city's problems, there is hardly anybody who wouldn't praise its rich architectural heritage. However, this hasn't stopped the powers to be from taking down many important structures. A few examples of currently endangered buildings and already lost ones are listed below:

The State not following its own rules : The Baltimore Jail

The Baltimore jail, dating back to the Civil War era,  is a difficult case for anyone who cares about historic preservation. The historic complex is partially still in use and is a manifestation of many of the ills of the American correctional system. Deficiencies in the complex are so rampant that the complex is subject of a lawsuit for violation of human rights in 1971, with various settlements and improvements made since then until Governor Hogan announced a shut-down in 2015. The State took the facility over on request of the City in 1991.
Baltimore City Jail, cruel conditions, notable architecture
The City still operates Central Booking there. In 2015 Hogan said he wants it shut and torn down and that there were no plans to rebuild. This year the Maryland prison system initiated a Section 106 review, a step required if historic properties will be demolished using federal funds (Maryland has adopted the same provision for use of State funds). In the words of the correctional system:
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services (DPSCS) is proposing demolition at the Baltimore Correctional Complex in Baltimore City in order to construct a new, state-of-the-art, code compliant facility that meets 21st Century Conditions of Confinement for inmates. The project is needed to respond to the ongoing Federal judicial review and 1993 Consent Decree citing the unhealthy environment, inadequate facilities, and privacy issues at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Pursuant to Maryland Historical Trust Act of 1985 Section 5A-325 and 5A-326, commonly referred to as Section 106, DPSCS initiated Section 106 with the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) on January 29, 2018 and submitted Determinations of Eligibilities (DOEs) on the Baltimore City Jail and Maryland Penitentiary on May 18, 2018; both DOEs can be accessed via this link.  MHT concurred with the findings and DPSCS held the First Consulting Party Meeting on July 25, 2018 and presented the determinations from the DOE documentation, identified the project scope, outlined a draft Area of Potential Effect (APE), and identified historic resources within the APE. 
The State maintains that no alternative locations are available. However, no alternative to demolition has been presented to date which would either relocated prison junctions, rehabilitate the existing historic buildings for correctional purposes or would use them with new uses that either co-exist with correctional uses or require relocation of correctional uses. The 106 process requires investigation of those alternatives:
When a proposed project will have an adverse effect on historic properties, the agency must explore alternatives to avoid, minimize, or mitigate those effects. MHT seeks to prevent adverse effects on historic and archeological properties through consultation. Sometimes adverse effects are unavoidable given project need, environmental or design constraints, emergency situations, or other requirements. (MHT website)
 Barring immediate and strong actions of community groups in the vicinity of the prison or by preservation activists the unique granite structures of the historic prison complex will be demolished without a proper vetting of alternatives and without a proper public involvement process, both are requirements before historic resources can be eliminated.

The jail sits at a critical seam in the middle of Baltimore. It contributes to the isolation of eats-side neighborhoods; the large complex  has long been identified as instrumental for the revitalization of the east side of Baltimore. The swift and largely stealth demolition plans (bids for demolition contracts are already being prepared), are not acceptable, not  from a city planning perspective and much less nor from a historic preservation and not from a due process point of view.

City forces demolition: Gomprecht and Benesch Building

A devastating fire born out of neglect
A sad witness of Baltimore's to date unsuccessful attempts of breathing new life into Baltimore's Westside is the Gomprecht and Benesch Building, a stately a six-story brick commercial building on Eutaw Street just a block north of the Lexington Market. The building has stood vacant for 15 years until it caught fire in 2017, resulting in one of the biggest downtown fires in recent memory. (See article). Since the fire fighters left after two days of fighting the massive fire nothing has been done to save the building. Instead it stands on the busy street with a precariously unstable cornice and without a roof. Inside at least one floor collapsed, yet most of the shell appears to be structurally stable. In efforts to get the absent DC based LLC who owns the building to do something, the City entered into a consent decree that requires demolition by November 28 this year. It is ironic that the City would aim in that direction. Nobody is helped with a vacant lot on Eutaw Street, a downtown artery which, so far, has been largely spared those ugly vacant lots. In the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties the building is described this way:
The Gomprecht and Benesch building
Erected in 1901 in the Renaissance Revival style on the west side of North Eutaw Street about 100 feet south of West Mulberry Street in central Baltimore, Maryland. The five-bay facade has large industrial plate glass vertical pivot windows flanked by Ionic and Corinthian columns. The heavy overhanging cornice has dentils, foliated modillions, and lion heads. The Roman brick side piers have medallions and lion heads below the intermediate cornice. The street level storefront is altered and consists of plate glass windows across the entire front flanked by polished granite panels at the sides. The entrance has been relocated to the north elevation. In 1986, the building was occupied by a printing service. The building was later used by The Tunnel nightclub which closed in 2002.
With a rehabilitation of the Lexington Market apparently within grasp, the demolition of one of the stateliest buildings on Eutaw Street would be the worst outcome possible. Clearly, even if the owners feel unable to fully rehabilitate the building, the demolition would cost likely as much as a new roof which would stabilize the cornice and protect the remaining shell from the elements. Once the building is stabilized the City should assist in finding a developer who would be willing to invest in an area with the region's best transit access.

Developer's pie in the sky developments that don't seem to happen: 

How easily demolished buildings can turn into far bigger eyesores than the vacant structures were before demolition, can be seen on two properties on Baltimore Street, both owned by David S. Brown Enterprises. The most aggravating eyesore can be found at Baltimore's 100% corner at Baltimore and
Pie in the sky: 315 West Baltimore Street (BBJ)...
Charles Street, the intersection from where the four downtown quadrants (east, west, north, south) emanate and where now a field of rubble has replaced the former iconic Mechanic Theatre. Two blocks to the west, Brown demolished a couple of historic garment district buildings and a defunct parking garage. Here too, nothing but a chainlink fence and rubble. In both cases the developer had dangled fancy towers with hundreds of apartments and first
.....Nothing but rubble (315 West Baltimore Street 
floor retail  in front of the eyes of City officials in order to get his demo permits.

All of Baltimore's successful conversions and adaptive reuse projects are apparently not enough to convince officials that preservation is a much better path towards economic development, proven from Boston to Detroit. No city demolishes itself to prosperity.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

An incomplete list of lost Baltimore historic landmarks can be found here

Related on this blog:
Bombing Downtown

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Baltimore transportation updates

As frequent as complaints about Baltimore's transportation system are, nobody can say that nothing happens to make it better. Here a few current examples of progress:

Baltimore Circulator, still alive:

After the contract extension with the previous Charm City Circulator Transdev expired, the free Baltimore City bus service hit some bumps. (see here).
This week the service has resumed on all routes with 8 buses which is about half of the optimal fleet. 3 buses operate on the Purple Line, 2 on Orange and Green and 1 bus on the Banner route. The fleet is a mix of two city owned buses in the traditional colors, two are leased and four are owned by the new operator RMA which currently works on a three months "emergency contract" according to BCDOT spokesman German Vigil.
Charm City Circulator livery (Photo: BBJ)

About the service level the City DOT Director Pourciau says "We believe the current service is comparable to what past vendor had at the end". This is maybe a bit rosy, the website still displays all services to have "major delays".

The buses currently run on a schedule and cannot be located via the NextBus app that was used by Transdev in the past.  Pourciau says that the Transit App  currently shows the scheduled runs and that she is hopeful that buses will sometime during the emergency contract period be able to show their actual locations.
Stopgap measures to keep the service running

The City will enter a three year contract with RMA, a very short contract allowing the City to bring service and allocated funds in alignment and make adjustments to the routes. "We will be working closely with MTA, Pourciau says, "to ensure that the service is complimentary to MTA" and not duplicative. The current buses are temporarily serviced and maintained at a facility at BWI airport.

The promise of a new contract and operator is that the Charm City Circulator could regain its original stature as an innovative, clean, reliable and simple to use service and that funding and cost can finally be brought back into alignment.

Scooters are a hit in Baltimore

Matt Warfield, a City DOT planner shared some exciting scooter statistics: Since Bird and Lime were officially launched in the summer of this year 250,554 rides were taken on the scooters for a total of 324,534 miles. The total number of different users is 84,266.  There are between 800 and 1,400 scooters in the streets each day. The city has established a maximum of 1,000 scooters for each vendor plus a 1,000 dock-free Lime bicycles which have not yet been launched.

Scooter operators aim for a minimum of three rides per scooter a day. According to Mr Warfield Baltimore's average is about 8 rides a day. A "heat map" of where the scooters were used showed a concentration downtown with a fairly good spread into the neighborhoods. Several rides on the map showed trips along arterials reaching to the outer edges of the city.
Electric Scooters landed in Baltimore: They are a success (SUN photo)

The city operates under a 6 months pilot with the two dockless operators in which they pay $1 for each deployed scooter per day  on top of a one time $15,00 base fee. Pourciau admitted that those money currently go into the general fund but promises that accounting is set up to delineate this income and eventually steer it into bike facilities.

The City requires that 25% of the fleet is dispatched in  low income census tracts. The operators have to share their use data with the city, an ongoing issue across the USA. Cities are coordinating through the transportation organization NACTO to provide a uniform data request platform across many cities to avoid that individual administrations are getting the run around from Bird and Lime when it comes to data sharing.

Complete Streets legislation on path towards Council adoption

Ryan Dorsey's Complete Street legislation is moving through the legislative process and was passed in the City Council this Monday in the second reader. It will need one more pass in the Council to become law, provided the Mayor signs it. (Baltimore SUN). DOT Director Pourciau who had a fairly rough start with councilman Dorsey stated that she is excited about the Complete Streets policy and is now looking for "complete funds" to pay for it. Somewhat unique to Baltimore, the legislation has a strong equity component. The legislation requires that the City Department must “to the greatest extent possible, promote walking, biking, and public transit" and “ensure equity by actively pursuing the elimination of health, economic, and access disparities.”

MTA plans many improvements

MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn announced a slew of current MTA activities aiming to improve Baltimore's transit. The agency is currently ramping up to be the lead in the preparation of the new Baltimore Regional Transit Plan which was legislated in the last session. The agency introduced a mobile app that allows ticket purchases on all its modes via smart phone. The app has been downloaded 9,000 times since its introduction in late September. There is now also a 90 minute window for a free transfer, a step which used to cost extra.
Quinn reported that MTA is studying priority corridors for improvements on the current Link Bus service. All buses are now equipped with sensor that allows them to communicate with the City's traffic signals. In a phase two the transit signal priority (TSP) will be expanded to additional intersections. MTA received a $5.5 million grant "beyond the bus stop" allowing more real time bus signs, more operator bathrooms and some other improvements. The current 400 bus shelters will be expanded by 50% to a new total of 600 shelters. A new "cool" bus shelter design will be unveiled downtown shortly.
In addition, the MTA is improving the Camden and the BWI MARC stations with new facility buildings and is going to run a BWI area "microtransit" pilot which will alow dispersed businesses around the airport to get access to transit service.

Bike Network finally being constructed
Construcion between now and summer 2019
Even though closing the Baltimore docked bikeshare system was a setback for bicycling in Baltimore, the dockless scooters and the still envisioned dockless bikes fuel demand for safe bike lanes on which to ride.  The good news is that after a long pause agonizing over fire truck width and minimum lanes needed for fire apparatus, the downtown bike network plan is back on track towards realization between now and summer 2019 with important east-west bike facilities on Centre,Madison and Monument Streets.

A new design negotiated betweenBikemore and BCDOT creates a fully-separated, two-way bike lane along Centre and Monument Streets from MLK/Eutaw to Washington Street. West of Guilford Avenue, Madison Street is planned to have a combination of separated lanes and buffered lanes, the latter in response to the fire code. There has also been opposition by the Director of Baltimore School for the Arts. As anybody familiar with the area knows, the zone around the school becomes very congested when school lets out because so many students are being picked up by parents and there is never any good way for them to park or do the pick-up.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Circulator service severely disrupted - totally down on two routes

As predicted in this space, with the old Transdev contract expiring and the new contract neither in place nor the new contractor RMA of Bethesda possibly being able to ramp up new service that quickly, the inevitable happened: Charm City Circulator buses disappeared from City streets and service was entirely discontinued on the Banner and Green routes.
From today's Circulator website

It appears that the City is trying to patch things up by running loaner buses on the Purple and Orange lines. Lyft is also offering two free rides between 2 stops along the discontinued routes for two days. How many loaners are in service and who drives them remains shrouded in mystery.
No new operator will be able to take over the operation when the Veolia contract extension ends in the first half of October. A patch operation with loaner buses from various local tour bus operators without a proper coordinator seems to be the most likely outcome. It is difficult to imagine how the service can recover from such a blow. (Community Architect Sept 12, 2018)
The service disruption appeared to be unavoidable given how long it took the City to review the bids and eventually file suit against the past operator Transdev , the company who also was one of the two bidders for the new contract. Because that writing was on the wall for a month, it was entirely avoidable, though, to confront riders with the news only a few hours before the service was abandoned.
Running incognito: Charm City Circulator replacement
on Thursday on Light Street

With the vague language of a weather forecast the city oracled “there will be no services tomorrow, with possibly no service on Friday as well” (Website). Somehow City officials imagine that next week they or the selected new operator can muster 14 of the 16 necessary buses to provide full service.
Customers of the Orange and Purple route will experience significantly longer waits. DOT is advising CCC customers to expect delays during the next few days. Delays will be significant in the morning and afternoon rush hour and into the evening.
Impact to routes:
  • Orange Route: Customers may experience significantly longer waits.
  • Purple Route: Customers may experience significantly longer waits.
  • Green Route: There will be no services tomorrow, with a chance of no service on Friday.
  • Banner Route: There will be no services tomorrow, with a chance of no service on Friday.
 “We ask customers to be patient and plan alternative travel arrangements. We know this is a major inconvenience to all those who use the Charm City Circulator” (Website). 
The Next Bus arrival system which the Charm City system had pioneered in Baltimore is down, needless to say. Loaner buses are not equipped to provide this information.

Given that a new contract has not been approved and the City has to abide by strict procurement rules, it is unclear how and when this type of full service should come to pass. One would think that the lawsuit should give officials pause with new fly by the seat of your pants arrangements.
Winging it on the Purple Route: "Major delays"

By all appearances, the dispute with Veolia/Transdev about past billing (The City claims to have been overbilled because the operator charged for scheduled and not for actual service) also stems from hasty decisions that had to be made in an emergency. Back then, the issue was that the City had procured innovative electric buses which didn't hold up in hot summer months and needed replacement. Transdev seems to have felt entitled to the more generous billing method due to a quid pro quo in which the operator provided additional buses and  the City agreed to the creative billing. The City obviously sees it differently and sued. However, it appears to be undisputed that the billing of scheduled service went on for eight years and had not been contested until late last year or early this year.

In DOT Director Pourciau's statement she said on the eve of the service disruption “DOT is working diligently to return services to normal and deeply regrets the inconvenience that this disruption of service will cause to customers. We are taking immediate actions to restore full service to all routes as soon as possible.” Given that MDOT has given the City money to support the Circulator funding, the State may show a keen interest in how and when the service will shape up.

"We will see what happens", the President likes to say when he has no plan.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Previous Community Architect articles about this topic:

City sues Transdev. Circulator on course to crash and burn

City sues Transdev. Circulator on course to crash and burn

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Will the Lexington Market finally be saved?

Markets, food halls, brew pubs and coffee shops are celebrated catalysts of urban revitalization. Each has a long-standing tradition of place-making and interaction as basic building blocks of settlements. None of it had to be invented and yet, all these elements had to be rediscovered after a long period of social isolation stemming from suburbanization, air conditioning, television and individualized mobility people. After the private has trumped the public for decades, people in North America seem to be yearning to meet and mingle in places which are at once familiar and comfortable and also new and cool.
The west market shed: Not much to write home about (Photo Philipsen)

It is telling in many ways that while all of these elements are thriving profit centers for private enterprises, the public markets in Baltimore are ailing. All six Baltimore public markets are in some type of transition except one, the Northeast Market. The saviors have to come from the private side. City agencies and government are too resource strapped and demoralized to come up with much that is creative or doable. When the Baltimore public market agency under directive of various mayors created plans and hired consultants to guide the future of the markets, it often created the unintended result of gumming up the works. As a result some of the markets declined to being a mere shadow of their former selves.

So it was with the aging Lexington Market, mostly ailing from the uncertainty too many City plans have created. In her last days in office, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake announced what was, until last week, the most recent and most problematic plan. It suggested to raze all existing market buildings and replace them with one modern two story glass building to be created on the parking lot to the south of today’s east market.
A long stretch of a miserable pedestrian experience: The vast access area
to the east garage with its garbage and delivery areas (Photo Philipsen)

The plan's had so many flaws, its hard to decide whether the lack of public and vendor participation or the lack of funds to realize the costly plan were he biggest flaw or whether it was its unimaginative design which didn't work in the given topography. In short, it was a plan without players which left merchants in limbo in a building that urgently needed upgrades. Once the death-mark had been put on the structures, no real investments were made anymore. As a result the number of vacant stalls increased while sales decreased. A rat in a bakery case earlier this year seemed like the last nail in the coffin.
The large Westside Market complex is crucial for the future of the entire downtown area (Graphic: ArchPlan)

Now comes Seawall’s Thibault Manekin to the rescue with a cheaper and faster plan that can be started as early as next year. This would shorten the uncertainty. However, not much is known about the plan except what payments Seawall would receive for being the entity which designs and builds the market. Vendors and the public still need to be heard and a consensus has to be created about what the desired outcomes are supposed to be and what therefore, the guiding principles should be. Fundamental questions include:
  • For whom is the market, for poor nearby residents, tourists, the thriving new downtown community or all of the above?
  • What should be the balance between selling fresh foods and consuming prepared foods?
  • What buildings should remain a market, what would be the functions of any new structure?
  • What would be the balance between indoor and outdoor activities?
  • What improvements can be made in the surroundings?
Always plenty of people (Photo Philipsen)
Successful markets are surrounded by activities that support the market function, either by providing customers (the convention center in the case of the Reading Terminal Market), by having small retail in the surrounding stores that complements the market (Seattle's Pike's Peak or Cincinnatti's Findley's Market) or they sit within a thriving or revitalizing area which in itself is a destination (Cincinnatti's Over the Rhine). Baltimore's Lexington Market is surrounded by giant parking structures with all the deadening effect they have on pedestrians and street life. Retail in the area is marginal and whatever is there isn't synergistic with the market in the way the coffee shops, bakeries and delis are elsewhere. The approach to the market from the east, the west, the north or the south reeks of private and public neglect, sometimes worse.

Seawall would oversee the design and construction of the market renovation and potentially also participate in vendor selection to fill the existing vacancies. The same company also designed and renovated the Baltimore Design school in a similar way. In that case the school system is leasing the building back from Seawall. In the case of the Lexington Market the City will keep the ownership. Seawall has recently completed the R-House in Remington, a popular food hall. The company is also known for its affordable teacher housing projects in Remington and Hampden.
Neglect: Burnt in Jan 2017 and never touched since then
(Photo Philipsen)

Private public partnerships are also underway for the Broadway Market in Fells Point, the Hollins Market in Poppleton and the Cross Street Market in Federal Hill. Warhorse Development, whose owner Scott Plank also owns the Belvedere Square market is well aware of the need to invest in the market surroundings. His company is currently renovating rowhouses around Hollins Square. In the case of Lexington Market, various private investments are underway, but they are not a sufficient concerted effort of creating a stable environment for the market. A recent blow to the area was the departure of the Rite Aid located on the first floor of the Atrium apartments (the former Hechts building). Just north of the market the stately former Gomprecht and Benesch Building is just a burnt out shell that hasn't been touched since a spectacular fire gutted the interior in January of 2017.

In a time when the national and local social fabric is under great tension, spaces for diverse communities to come together and find common ground are more important than ever. Markets are such spaces. A successful renovation of Lexington Market is key to a renewal of the Westside and key to the future of Baltimore. The Seawall deal may very well be the last chance to rescue the market and bring it in line with similar successes around the country and the world.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Large deadzones at the large parking garages east and west on Paca Street
(Photo Philipsen)

Western parking garage at Paca Street (Photo Philipsen)

Missing bricks, open tree pits without soil, broken curbs, asphalt patches: Public neglect
(Photo Philipsen)

A nice recent renovation  but no efforts of  "merchandising" , i.e. finding a
healthy mix of retail in the area (Photo Philipsen)

Trash and smell to the south (Photo Philipsen)
Trash and neglect  to the north (Photo Philipsen)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The UB library recast: Architecture to get used to

Two times the University of Baltimore conducted a Abell Foundation funded design competition; two times the winner was Stephan Behnisch architects, headquartered in Stuttgart Germany. After the imposing UB Law School, the much smaller 54,400 sq.ft UB library is now also complete. A ribbon cutting too place last.
The back becomes the front: UB Bogomolny Library

For the first competition UB president Robert L. Bogomolny oversaw the proceedings. The UB Library now bears his name; this project was run under current UB President and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke.

Many Baltimoreans needed some time to get used to the checker board facade of the law school, there wasn't quite a building like that in all of Baltimore. Many still ask how the outer glass facade would ever be cleaned. But the law school wasn't just a facade, it is an all new building with innovations throughout. For example, an atrium that meanders through all 12 stories.

By contrast, the library is only a four story under $30 million building and essentially, it is the old Langsdale library with a new facade. The atrium here is shrunk to a still impressive new glass stair add-on, slanted and angled, a bit like the stairway at the UB student center, just better.

East West Section with Maryland Ave on the left
 (Behnisch  Architects)
This, now is a library of the future, i.e. multi-media.
We're calling it "the library of forever" because it can be modified to deal with the changes that are coming because of technology and the way people learn. (Kurt Schmoke to the BBJ)
There are still book-racks but also many ways to interact with electronic screens: Coil in solitary seclusion into a shell, with a laptop or an i-pad or collaborate with others. In many ways the upper floors represent an exhibit of the many ways how people like to work today. Alone and invisible, at long tables now common in beer pubs and start-ups, at traditional round tables or in a oddly shaped  glass enclosed mock conference room, resembling fish tanks or exhibit cases. A spot survey proved the hide out in plain view shells to be most popular. The stairway with its view of the sky and into the various floors is impressive, its solid light wood steps inviting, but students use the elevator.
No doubt an improvement: The back of the old Langsdale Library

The transformation of the University of Baltimore's Robert L. Bogomolny Library respects the memory and history of the original library design while simultaneously modernizing it to meet contemporary research, scholarship, archival and environmental demands. The original massing concept of the Library is substantially maintained – that of the “floating box” housing all of the library’s treasures. 
Inside, the Glass hall promotes interior circulation, brings daylight and views into the original floor plate, and creates new informal study and meeting perches within its enclosure. Such spaces reappear on the library floors as well, acknowledging a new era of library use that privileges learning and interaction.(Behnisch website)
The big urban design move is the relocation of the architecturally emphasized main entrance to the rear in a somewhat forced attempt to make the back become a front. The 2014 masterplan basically mandated it:
Renovation of the library will provide a new prominent entry on the west side facing what is now a surface parking lot. This reorientation of the face of the library will apply pressure to develop open space on the west side into a plaza/green space on campus.Circulation through the library's ground level will enhance the experience of walking from the Fitzgerald parking garage to the heart of campus, the Yale Gordon Plaza.
From the garage to the campus plaza: Emphasized connection
While it remains to be seen if the route from the garage to the Gordon Plaza justifies the move, the idea of a green-space between the Barnes and Noble bookstore and the new library is intriguing, especially if it were to include Oliver Street itself and the vast expanse of asphalt that forms the entryway to the Fitzgerald garage in some way. So far, the view from the stairway to the west brings mostly drabness into focus: walled parking lots, containers and the post office facility which UB has already under control.

The price for the new emphasis on the west facade is that the presentation towards Maryland Avenue and the Penn Station area remains somewhat mundane. Those irregular windows with the regular white molded facade panels work very well from the inside.
Molded panels evoking the plastic age. (Photo: Philipsen)

From the outside the panels are somewhat reminiscent of Eiermann facades, a 60's contribution of a German architecture professor who was famous in the Stuttgart and Karlsruhe area a bit before Stephan Behnisch's father Guenther became a figure of national fame. Eiermann was known for designing white molded tiles which adorned the German department store chain Horten. One comment on Facebook read:
"Too much, too soon and too often." (Anna Karras)  
That pretty much sums it up. University architecture should at times be daring but it also needs to be timeless in the sense that the dare will withstand the test of time without looking dated. The law school should have no trouble with that, I am not so sure about the library facade.

Klaus Philipsen

UB website

Views in the open stairway  (photo Klaus Philipsen)

Hiding in plain view in work nooks  (photo Klaus Philipsen)

Glass enclosed meeting spaces  (photo Klaus Philipsen)
There are still book racks (photo Klaus Philipsen)

traditional work area and gigantic ventilation ducts (photo Klaus Philipsen)

varied horizontal windows work well on the inside  (photo Klaus Philipsen)

Aerial view of the new library and the law school looking east (Behnisch Architects, Matthiessen)

Architect Stephan Behnisch (left. Photo: Matthiessen)

West elevation rendering (Behnisch Architects)

The way how the glass wall and the molded panels meet is detailed more cleanly than it looks (photo Klaus Philipsen)

View from the little outdoor plaza (photo Klaus Philipsen)
Dressing up the the old Langsdale building outside, exposing it inside (photo Klaus Philipsen)

the fishbowl meeting spaces (photo Klaus Philipsen)

Color and sand in the yard  (photo Klaus Philipsen)