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Chesapeake Shakespeare Company more than halfway to reaching $6M capital campaign goal

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is more than halfway to reaching its capital campaign goal of raising $6 million to fund its move to a new home in downtown Baltimore's Mercantile Trust and Deposit Co. building.

To date, the company has raised about $3.5 million from board members, individuals and foundations to support its move. The nonprofit is on track to begin renovations of its new home within six months and debut productions at the historic property at 200 East Redwood St. in 2014.
 
The money raised will pay for the purchase and renovation of the building and initial operating expenses. Lesley Malin, managing director, says the campaign is in its “quiet phase.” When it reaches 80 percent of the goal, the company will reach out to the public for contributions although she does not have a timeframe for doing that.
 
“We’ve already had a couple of open houses for the public to see the building. We’ve also had wine-and-cheese events” for donors, Malin says. “We like quiet events, like open houses. We will not have a gala to raise money.”

The new home is two blocks from the Inner Harbor and has been the home of several nightclubs. Baltimore architectural firm Cho Benn Holback + Associates Inc. will convert the 14,000-square-foot, circa 1885 building into a 250-seat theater.
 
The Helm Foundation, whose director Scott Helm is a Chesapeake Shakespeare trustee, bought the building for the company. Other foundation donors are The Abell Foundation, which recently gave $250,000, The France-Merrick Foundation, which gave $200,000 and The William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund, which gave $25,000 for operating expenses.

It could also get some state money. In the current Maryland General Assembly session, companion House and Senate bond bills would provide $500,000 in matching grant money to the company. The bills have yet to be approved.

Until now, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company has presented shows in the summer at an outdoor venue in Howard County's Ellicott City. The acquisition of the Baltimore theater allows the company to expand its season and its audience. In its new home, Chesapeake will present four to five productions as well as an annual Charles Dickens-inspired Christmas show while continuing its summer shows in Ellicott City.
 
Malin says she is in talks with the Baltimore City Public School system to offer every student the opportunity to see live theater, including an annual spring production of “Romeo and Juliet” especially for students.
 
Malin is also talking with the Baltimore School for the Arts, a public high school within walking distance of the theater, about “some kind of partnership,” she says. “Different things are on the table.”
 
“We are not just opening a theater but saving a beloved architectural landmark and an anchor in a troubled venue,” she says of the company’s new home. “We will serve as a cultural center for the neighborhood. It’s another reason to move and live downtown.”
 
 
Source: Lesley Malin, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 






M&T Bank Stadium and Horseshoe Casino going for LEED certification

Two of Baltimore's most prominent construction projects, M&T Bank Stadium's $35 million renovation and the Horseshoe Casino, are both aiming for the green building standard known as LEED certification.

Lorax Partnerships LLC
, a Columbia-based sustainability consulting and certification company, is providing green services to the renovated stadium and the new casino. In order to get LEED certification, a LEED-qualified professional has to be involved from start tofinish, from the planning to selection of material and the construction.
 
The two-year renovation of the M&T Bank Stadium will begin this spring, with the National Football League Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens primarily footing the bill. The design phase of the $400 million casino will be completed this summer and construction by July 2014. It will feature three full-service restaurants and six local eateries

Lorax Managing Partner Neal Fiorelli says part of the renovation at M&T involves installing energy-saving measures at a so-far undetermined cost. Fiorelli says the Ravens are aiming for a minimum LEED Silver operational standard for an existing building. Green changes at the stadium will involve lighting and refrigeration, waste recycling, cleaning products and products for the concessions.
 
The US Green Building Council’s LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a voluntary certification for structures with different rating levels of Silver, Gold and Platinum. A so-called green building meets certain sustainability markers for material, construction process and exterior environmental work.
 
Lorax is involved in the design and construction of Caesar’s Entertainment Corp.’s new Horseshoe Casino, located near M&T Stadium.  Fiorelli says the goal is at least a LEED Silver certification for new buildings. He says it is too early to know what green measures will be involved.
 
Founded in 2003, the privately financed Lorax provides green and LEED services directly to commercial building developers and owners, corporate real estate agencies, design teams and property managers in the private sector. In the public sector, the company works directly or as subcontractors on local, state and federal buildings.
 
Fiorelli says the company’s typical breakdown is 60 percent private and 40 percent public buildings but in the past few years, the breakdown has tended to be half private and half public.

Since 2006, when LEED certification became the widely recognized  standard in the construction industry, Fiorelli estimates Lorax has done 120 LEED projects with another 30 to 40 in progress, They range from public libraries and school buildings to private health clubs and office buildings.
 
He says the company works with all the major commercial real estate developers in the area, including Manekin, St. John Properties and Merritt Properties. “It has become a selling point” to attract tenants, he says. 
 
At the same time, the building industry underwent a dramatic change. Sustainable materials that were once expensive special-order items are now widely available at competitive prices, says Fiorelli of items like heating/air conditioning systems, windows and lumber.
 
Lorax currently does $1 million in sales per year but Fiorelli is hoping to double that this year by emphasizing the company’s corporate environmental consulting service. The company also oversees new construction and the retrofitting of existing buildings, to a LEED rating or whatever sustainability level the client wants.
 
Lorax’s staff of eight have all qualified to give LEED approval. Fiorelli says the company is hiring up to two staffers this year as researcher and assistant project manager.
 
Source: Neal Fiorelli, Lorax Partnerships LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Legislators want to make Pennsylvania Avenue an arts district

Baltimore delegates to the Maryland General Assembly have introduced a bill to create an economic development area to promote the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor in west Baltimore as a place to live and do business.

House Bill 203 designates the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor as an arts, business and cultural district, with tax incentives for developers, artists and cultural groups. The district's boundaries are from Orchard Street on the south to Fulton Street on the north, Pennsylvania Avenue on the west to McCulloh Street on the east. It includes the Upton, Druid Heights and Penn North neighborhoods. 
 
The bill's broad goals are to restore cultural landmarks, preserve and reuse historical buildings, encourage business and job development, establish a tourist destination and enhance property values. It authorizes tax credits for qualifying individuals who own or rent residential property or conduct a business in the district, or who move there after it has been established. Qualifying individuals are eligible for property tax credit and exemption from admissions and amusement tax.
 
The bill does not specify funding sources for the redevelopment. “You want to establish the district first and the dollars will follow,” says Democratic Delegate Keiffer Mitchell, Jr., a co-sponsor of the bill who represents the district. “There is an array of possible funding that the city and state could use.”
  
“Some commercial development is going on already on Pennsylvania Avenue but I’d like to encourage other types of development,” says Democratic Delegate Melvin Stukes, lead sponsor of the bill who also represents the district.
 
Stukes says he wants to encourage the development of the cultural aspects of the corridor, in particular the construction of a new arts center that would house the Royal Theatre and the Arena Players. The Royal Theatre opened in 1922 and was demolished in 1971. It was a major destination for black entertainers, including Cab Calloway and Ray Charles. The Arena Players is currently housed at 801 McCulloh St.
 
“I see a lot of black history in Baltimore disappearing and I am determined to save as much as possible,” Stukes says.
 
Mitchell says the district would not be the first such district in Baltimore. That honor goes to the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. 
 
“It will help not just Pennsylvania Avenue but all the housing surrounding it, from McCulloh Street to Pennsylvania Avenue,” Mitchell says.
 
Says Stukes, “This not something that will happen overnight. We don’t have preliminary figures for the cost and how long it will take. But we want to begin a serious discussion on having it happen.”

The bill had its first reading before the House Economic Matters Committee last month. To date, a hearing has not been scheduled. If passed, the arts, business and cultural district designation would need approval from the Baltimore City Council. 

Nonetheless, both Stukes and Mitchell say they are optimistic about passage in the General Assembly. “Economic development for the City of Baltimore is viewed favorably,” Mitchell says. “And in terms of revitalizing the arts in the city and that this is an historical area, it bodes well for passage.”
 
Sources: Melvin Stukes and Keiffer Mitchell, Jr., Maryland House of Delegates
Writer: Barbara Pash

New iPad Magazine Celebrates Small Spaces

Imagine a German architect colliding with Charm City’s design sensibilities.  
 
That’s exactly what Daryl Landy did when naming his new iPad magazine Rohous.
 
Yes, the name is a take on Baltimore’s ubiquitous rowhouses. Now you see what we mean? There's even a bar over the first O. 
 
Though the magazine launched this month, it’s been at least 10 years in the making – obviously long before the launch of the iPad, Landy says.
 
The former director of Pigtown Main Street Street, who holds a masters degree in industrial design, says he has always been interested in home furnishings and architecture and living well in small spaces. Rohous highlights homes and businesses that contain less than 1,200 square feet.
 
“I never understood why people had to have 5,000 square feet and they use just two rooms,” Landy says. “I just thought it was a lot of waste.”
 
Landy himself renovated his 1,100-square-foot Pigtown rowhouse.
 
The magazine will feature small spaces around the world, not just in Smalltimore. The debut issue highlights homes in Paris, Amsterdam, Marrakech and Barcelona. Rohous takes a look at smaller restaurants as well.
 
A 12-month subscription costs $9.99 for the first 1,000 subscribers. Thereafter, it costs $12.00. It’s available on the iPad and soon, on other tablets. You can read it on your desktop and laptop as well.
 
“It seems like the timing is perfect,” Landy says of the new magazine. “We’ve been seeing a lot of things about people who are forced to downsize.”
 
Writer: Julekha Dash; julekha@bmoremedia.com
Source: Daryl Landy, Rohous
 

Architects Examine Trends in Park Design

Parks aren’t just for beauty and relaxation anymore. In this environmentally-conscious era, they play a role in sustainability as well.

Just how that is accomplished is the subject of a talk on new trends in park design, to be held on Wed. April 25 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark, 829 West Baltimore Street.
 
Joan Floura, of Baltimore-based Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, and Glenn Marschke, of Wallace Montgomery, will review environmental site design and what it means for public parks. The hour-long event is being held in a Floura Teeter-designed pocket park. It is free and open to professionals, civic leaders and the public.
 
In particular, the speakers will focus on Maryland’s 2007 Stormwater Management Act and Environmental Site Design, says Kathy Walsh, Floura Teeter’s marketing coordinator.
 
“The regulations are intended to prevent storm water runoff going into the Chesapeake Bay. They will talk about the types of plants, the design and irrigation,” says Walsh.
 
The state regulations as well as those in Baltimore City and other local jurisdictions “affect landscape design, especially in urban parks,” she says.
 
The talk is part of Baltimore Green Works’ 9th Annual Green Week and features a variety of programs through Sat. April 28.
 
Among them: Wed. April 25, 7 p.m. film premiere and panel discussion of “Green Fire,” life of Aldo Leopold, founder of the modern green movement, at Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave.; Thurs. April 26, 6 p.m., social mixer sponsored by Civic Works, at The Red Maple, 930 N. Charles St.; Sat. April 28, 8:30 a.m. urban farming workshops and tours, at Civic Works’ Real Food Farm in Clifton Park.
 
Source: Kathy Walsh, Floura Teeter Landscape Architects
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 




MICA, Hopkins, Launch Joint Degree

Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School and Maryland Institute College of Art are teaming up to offer a joint MBA/MA in Design Leadership next fall.

Billed as the first program of its kind in the US, the program will marry traditional business courses with those in art and design to train leaders in architecture, architecture, the fine arts and other creative fields.

The partnership anticipates enrolling students of diverse educational backgrounds including grads in business management, fine arts, finance and design. The new program will be an 18 to 20-month, 66-credit program of study.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: MICA and Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore Medical Systems new headquarters receives LEED-Platinum certification

Baltimore Medical System's (BMS) new Highlandtown Healthy Living Center officially received LEED-Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council last week.

The Highlandtown Healthy Living Center is the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the country to receive LEED-Platinum Certification. The award was presented by Peter Templeton, President of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

BMS had not initially planned to build a green building, says Jay Wolvovsky, president and CEO. Once the healthcare organization decided to build an entirely new building, The Knott Foundation, an early funder, challenged BMS to think about building an environmentally-friendly facility that met LEED standards.

"We didn't know anything about it at all and had to do a fair amount of investigation. As we learned more, we were able to draw our own conclusions about the linkage between environmental factors and our patients' health. What is the environment of an inner city neighborhood? What are the environmental factors associated with a neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of green in it? What's the impact on water and air quality, or of lead in paint on houses? What's the environmental impact of not having enough parkland in the area so people can get exercise, keep their weight down and deal with their diabetes, obesity and heart disease," he explains.

As BMS leaders continued to weigh these factors, they began setting the bar higher and higher until finally the decision was made to go for LEED-Platinum. "It became a mission and a passion that this building would stand for more than just being the best space for us to deliver our healthcare services in. It was going to be a standard bearer for the organization, making a statement about ourselves and what we believe in and what we think is the next frontier for healthcare dealing with public health issues, including the environment, diversity, and healthcare disparities."

The building delivers comprehensive primary care to more than 22,000 patients from over 50 countries each year. Baltimore Medical System is the largest provider of primary health care to medically underserved communities in Maryland. BMS provides special services to help uninsured, non-English speaking and other high need patient groups access care. Over 48,000 people each year receive medical services and education at BMS's six health centers throughout Baltimore City and County and six City school-based locations.

Source: Jay Wolvovsky, Baltimore Medical System
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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