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Morgan State plots $149 million campus expansion

Morgan State University is undergoing a major expansion of its campus in northeast Baltimore, on property it owns at Hillen Road and Argonne Drive. The new west campus will contain the long-awaited Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management, opening in 2015, and the Behavioral and Social Sciences Center, to open in 2017. Together, the two buildings cost around $149 million.
An undetermined amount of funding is being sought for a third building and parking garage on the site, according to Cynthia Wilder, a Morgan State planner. Morgan State owns more than 170 acres, of which 143 acres constitute the main campus for its approximately 8,000 students.

The expansion is taking place on nine Morgan State-owned acres on the west side of the main campus. Part of the property is occupied by the Northwood Shopping Center, although Wilder didn’t have an acreage breakdown. The shopping center will remain and the Morgan State buildings will be built next to it. A bridge across Argonne Drive will connect the West Campus to the main campus.
“The main campus is filled and we had no option but to look elsewhere to replace facilities that can’t serve what we need,” she says. The new business school will have a trading simulation hall like that of the New York Stock Exchange and offer more hands-on instruction. The social sciences center will contain demonstration spaces, observation rooms and a forensic anthropology laboratory.
Wilder says Morgan State’s business programs are held in a building on campus, McMechen Hall, and will be consolidated in the new business school, which will house management, accounting, hospitality and marketing. The 140,000-square-foot business school cost $82 million, of which the state funded $81 million and Morgan State the rest.
The design process has begun for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Center, a 125,000 square foot facility that will house classes now being held in the circa 1974 Jenkins Hall. Construction will begin in 2015 and the center will open in 2017. The state will issue bonds to pay for the approximately $67 million project, Wilder says.
Wilder says that both the business school and social sciences center will be green buildings, the LEED certification level still to be determined. 
Source: Cynthia Wilder, Morgan State University
Writer: Barbara Pash

Rendering of Morgan State University Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management courtesy of Ayers Saint Gross / KPF Associated Architects. 

MICA opening $16M dorm next month in Bolton Hill

Students at Maryland Institute College of Art looking to live on campus will get new digs next month. The Bolton Hill art college is opening a $16.3 million residence hall as enrollment grows and unveiling a $3 million renovation of its residential complex.
Located at 130 McMechen St., Leake Hall will house 240 students in 62 units. Part of the college's newly named Founder's Green Residential Complex, Leake Hall will include a performance space, lecture hall and artist studios. 

Renovations to the residential complex include a new entrance at the John H.B. Latrobe House and a new student lounge, a grill-style dining facility and expanded laundry facilities at Margaret F.S. Glace Hall. Baltimore architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht designed Leake Hall while Ayers Saint Gross handled the renovations. MICA financed the construction and renovations primarily through tax exempt bonds issued by the school and the Maryland Health and Higher Education Facilities Authority.
MICA has been updating and expanding its campus its facilities and housing in recent years to accommodate its student growth. Renovations to Studio Center, a complex for graduate programs on North Avenue, wrapped up last fall.
In 2008, MICA debuted its $30 million Gateway complex at the intersection of North Avenue and Mount Royal Avenue.  The dorm houses 215 students in apartment-style housing.
MICA enrolls nearly 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. Enrollment grew 16 percent last year. 
Source: Jessica Weglein, MICA’s director of public relations
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Stevenson University begins $9M renovation of former pharma building for science courses

Workers are moving the final pieces of pharmaceutical equipment out of the former Shire Pharmaceuticals manufacturing building in Owings Mills, as Stevenson University gets set to transform the space into science classrooms, offices and labs.

The final cost to renovate this 160,000-square-foot space remains up in the air, but Stevenson Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tim Campbell estimates it could be around $9 million. The revamped space will open in late 2014 or early 2015 as the new home for Stevenson’s School of the Sciences.

Stevenson purchased Shire’s 28-acre property off Crondall Lane in 2011 to accommodate its growing student body. The $10.5 million dollar purchase price netted the school two buildings – Shire’s former manufacturing plant and Shire’s former administration building —  and a 400 space parking lot adjacent to the school’s Owings Mills campus.

The $1 million renovation of the 18,000-square-foot administration building is nearly complete. It will reopen in September as the new home for Stevenson’s School of Design with three large design studios, classrooms, a sound stage, a broadcast studio, a digital imaging lab, faculty offices and a conference room. More than 200 students are expected to use the building daily.

Stevenson’s own design students and faculty had a lot of input into School of Design’s sleek, new look.

“We worked closely with them and came up with a design we feel is extremely attractive, it’s just a great building,” Campbell says.

Design students and staff also helped with the blueprints for the renovation of the former manufacturing building. Though it will be used primarily as a science facility, it also hold some overflow design classes.

The School of the Sciences and School of Design are both currently on Stevenson’s original campus in Stevenson. The Owings Mills campus, which features residence halls and a stadium, opened in 2004. Shuttle service links the two campuses, which are 6.5 miles apart.

Stevenson is known for its career-focused education, offering over two dozen degree programs ranging from criminal justice, to nursing. It has 4,212 students, about half of whom live on campus. 
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Tim Campbell, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Stevenson University 

Towson University doubling size of math and science building

Towson University is doubling the size of the building that houses its math and science school.

Construction on the 106,000-square-foot, $156 million expansion of Smith Hall won’t begin for at least another two years, says Scott Guckert, Towson’s director of construction services.

Smith is actually two connected buildings, built in 1964 and 1976 respectively, both of which are out of date, Guckert says.

Since the late 1990’s, all Towson students have been required to take at least two science courses to graduate, all of which are offered in Smith Hall. This has put a lot of pressure on the facility. At the same time, enrollment is now more than 20,000, compared to about 15,500 when Smith Hall was originally designed.

“We’re looking at a more green facility, something that will be LEED certified,” says Guckert, who says the building will feature improved technology, clean rooms, and breakout collaborative spaces.

Work is scheduled to start this September on a new pedestrian bridge, connecting Towson’s east side, which houses academic buildings, with its west village campus.

The bridge will rise above an existing intersection at Osler Drive and Towsontown Boulevard. The $15 million undertaking also includes a relocated traffic signal, improved wheelchair access and an additional athletic field.

The bridge is expected to be completed by summer, 2014.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Scott Guckert, Towson University director of construction services

UMBC seeks state money for $13M in road upgrades

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is laying the foundation for two major construction projects: the second phase of its $125 million humanities and performing arts building, and a proposed $12.9 million new entrance on UMBC Boulevard and Hilltop Circle at its Catonsville campus.

Funding for the project is included in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget. If the Maryland Legislature approves the governor’s proposal, the money will be available in July.

Campus architect Joe Rexing says preliminary engineering and design work will begin then if the budget is approved. If all goes well, construction will start in late spring of 2014.

“We are very hopeful. I think it gives us some confidence that it shows up in the governor’s proposed budget,” Rexing says.

After numerous rear-end collisions, UMBC officials expect the new entryway will make the campus a lot safer by replacing existing stop signs with two roundabouts. The plans also call for roadway improvement and landscaping on Hilltop Circle, and upgrades to the garage.

Traffic on the campus has grown along with enrollment, which has risen by nearly 25 percent since 2000 to nearly 13,000 undergraduates and graduate students.

Rexing says vehicles tend to go fast as they exit I-95 and Rolling Road, heading onto the campus via UMBC Boulevard. Vehicles also tend to stack up in the ramps during rush hour, also leading to crashes and problems.

“The interchange dates from the 60’s,” says Rexing, explaining the school plans to replace existing stop signs with two roundabouts.

As campus officials plot the road project, another major construction project is entering its second phase.  

The second phase, which includes a 350-seat concert hall and recording studio, is under construction and will open in the fall of 2014.
The first phase of the school’s new 178,000 square-foot performing arts and humanities building opened in September. It’s now home to the theater and English departments, three new writing labs, a 275-seat proscenium theater, a 120-seat black box theater and rehearsal space.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Joseph Rexing, UMBC architect; John Jeffries, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

MICA Food Truck Rolls into Bolton Hill

Hungry students and residents of Bolton Hill have a new way of grabbing food on the go.
Maryland Institute College of Art's (MICA) new mobile kitchen, The Artist's Palate, now provides sandwiches, falafels, burritos, tacos, soups and hamburgers at a variety of food and drink locations around the art school's campus community.
The college spent approximately $100,000 to get the former bread truck up and running with a kitchen that includes refrigeration, a sandwich station, and a deep fryer. The truck is operated by Parkhurst Dining Services and managed by MICA.

Since launching last month, the food truck has been a hit with students, workers, and neighborhood residents alike, says Chris Bohaska, MICA's senior director of operations business services.
A food truck has been planned for the campus community for a couple of years, Bohaska says. The combination of the expansion of the campus onto North Avenue, as well as the unique schedule of MICA students who often take full-day studio art courses, provided the impetus to find a 'creative solution' to provide a variety of food options to the campus community.
Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to broadcast its location, the food truck cycles to various campus spots. Social media will enable customers to determine which locations serve the community best, Bohaska says. Its schedule and locations will fluctuate semester by semester.
Food trucks on college campuses are relatively new, Bohaska says. He also believes that the campus is the first in Maryland to have a food truck operated by the institution.
Source: Chris Bohaska, MICA senior director, operations business services
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Towson University Purchases York Road Property

Towson University has spent $6.2 million to purchase a property on York Road and plans to spend another $4 million to refurbish the structure.
The university bought the 40,000-square-foot building to house several programs that fall within its Division of Economic and Community Outreach. That includes the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator, which will occupy one whole floor [see story].
The university has been a tenant for several years and decided to go ahead and purchase the building as it would save money in the long run compared with renting, says Mark Behm, Towson’s interim vice president of administration and finance and chief fiscal officer. Towson bought the building from Garrison Forest Foods Inc., state property records show. 
The building currently houses Towson’s continuing education programs and the Regional Economic Studies Institute. These tenants will move out temporarily in November while the building undergoes a 13-month renovation, Behm says. The renovations will include upgrades to the electrical system and adding an elevator to make it handicap accessible. 

Source: Mark Behm
Writer: Julekha Dash

Higher-Ed Startup StraighterLine Moving Out of ETC

StraighterLine, a Baltimore startup that recently got $10 million in venture funding, will soon move out of its incubator into a place of its own.

Seeking to accommodate its expanding staff, the company plans to relocate as early as Aug. 1 to a new, 6,000-square-foot office, tripling its space, says Marketing Manager, Steven Pope.
Its current space in The Johns Hopkins University Eastern Campus at 1101 E. 33rd St. in Waverly is 1,900 square feet and part of the Emerging Technology Center.
The company is still firming up a location, but the new space will be "five to 10 minutes away" from its present office, Pope says. 
"(We are) trying to capitalize on the market's readiness for a change in the education industry. We're trying to become the Amazon of online education. That's obviously a big goal, but we're one step closer to achieving it this year because of our expansions," Pope says.
The relocation is being supported by a $10 million investment to the company made in part by FirstMark Capital, a New York venture capital firm. CityLight Capital and Chrysalis Ventures also contributed to the investment.
Since the beginning of the year, the company has grown from 11 employees to its current staff of 22. It plans to grow to 30 employees in the next few months, Pope says.
The company is currently hiring subject matter experts and marketing and  software development staff.
StraighterLine provides entry-level, online college courses for credit in a variety of subjects. They follow a self-paced, independent study approach to online learning. Students can transfer courses taken at StraighterLine to a variety of partner colleges that offer degrees.
Pope says that with students facing mounting college debt, the company aims to offer low-cost and low-risk college credit options.
CEO Burck Smith founded the company in 2009 after launching Smarthinking, an online tutoring company.
Source: Steven Pope, marketing manager.
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Baltimore Teachers Union Expanding Headquarters

The Baltimore Teachers Union is getting a makeover.
The union submitted an application to the city's zoning board to renovate 10,000-square-feet of existing office space along with construction of a 20,000-square-foot addition at the union's headquarters on Metro Drive in northwest Baltimore.
While the union is still in the planning stages of the process, Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English says that the union plans to create a professional development center for its members at the location.
The teachers' union current professional development center is housed in a school that provides limited access for the union, English says.
In addition to providing staff development in the space, the union plans to partner with universities to provide both undergraduate and graduate level college courses.
The office is trying to centralize all projects in one space, English says.
While the budget for the project wasn't disclosed, English says the BTU has a capital campaign committee that is exploring how to fund the project. 

Source: Marietta English, Baltimore Teachers Union president
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Kabob Joint Opens in Abacrombie Inn

It's out with the symphony crowd and in with the college kids for Midtown's Abacrombie Inn

Managers of the inn hope a new restaurant taking over the space formerly occupied by Abacrombie Fine Foods and serving Middle Eastern fare will appeal to a growing student population in the area.
Alladin Kabob opened this month in the Abacrombie Inn at 58 W. Biddle St. in Midtown, and managers hope that the new restaurant will be a hit with the student community at nearby University of Baltimore and Maryland Institute College of Art, says Todd Powell, managing director of the Abacrombie Inn.
The 2,400-square-foot restaurant serves Middle Eastern fare and also offer a hookah bar, Powell says.
Alladin Kabob has leased the space and made significant renovations to the former Abacrombie Fine Foods. With its proximity to Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the previous restaurant was a more upscale, fine dining experience often appealing to concert-goers, Powell says.
Powell is optimistic about future of the restaurant along with other businesses that have been redeveloped along nearby Charles Street.
The fate of the restaurant may be in the hands of college students who will soon be neighbors with the inn. 
This fall, the University of Baltimore will open a 323-bed residence hall at Maryland and Biddle Streets just next to the inn.

Source: Todd Powell, managing director of the Abacrombie Inn
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

UMBC to Request $37M from State for Arts Building

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County plans to ask the state for $37.4 million at the 2012 General Assembly session so it can break ground this summer on the second phase of the school’s performing arts and humanities building.

The $165 million facility will be the Catonsville school’s largest building to date.

The building is being designed and constructed in two phases. The first phase will open July 1 and includes performing spaces, scene shops, and academic rooms for the department of theatre and classroom spaces and offices for the English department. It broke ground in 2010.

With the funding UMBC hopes to receive from the General Assembly, the university hopes to break ground of the second phase and complete it by summer of 2014.

UMBC hopes the construction of the building will raise the profile of the arts and humanities programs on campus.

"We do want people to know that we have vibrant arts and humanities programs at UMBC even though we might be better known for our programs in the sciences," says UMBC’s Director of Arts Management Thomas Moore.

The current facilities at UMBC are not up to standards for the arts and also make student-professor interaction difficult in the humanities since certain faculty members have to share offices, Moore says.

Some of the highlights of the building include a 350-seat concert hall, a 275-seat theatre, as well as dance and recording studios.

Many high-tech additions will be made to classrooms to make learning more interactive and to improve the learning environment. The building is also on track for LEED certification, Moore says.

The school enrolled more than 13,000 arts and humanities students in the fall.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Thomas Moore, UMBC

Coppin to Ask State for $42M for Science and Technology Center

Coppin State University plans to ask the state for $46 million in the 2012 General Assembly session for the design and construction of its planned Science and Technology Center.

If approved, the university in West Baltimore hopes to break ground on the $80 million center this fall, says Maqbool Patel, Coppin's associate vice president for administration and finance. The center will house the departments of natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science.

The university is currently in the process of buying more than 200 row houses in the neighborhood to make room for the center. The university has acquired 158 properties thus far, and should have all properties purchased by June, Patel says.

The historically black college wants to modernize its facilities to be able to compete with schools around the nation, says Patel, who describes Coppin's current science facilities to be "pretty poor, at best."

Patel believes that the new science and technology center will also improve Coppin's ability to recruit students, as well as help improve the school's graduation rate.

The planned building will include green technologies such as rainwater collection for irrigation and will be designed to minimize energy use.

If the project is approved in its final phase, the construction will employ up to 250. Coppin plans to encourage the participation of minority-owned businesses involved in Maryland's minority business enterprise for its construction.

Additionally, Coppin hopes to provide community access to a computer lab in the center.

Other recent constructions on Coppin’s campus include a physical education center and a health and human services building.

Coppin has 3,813 enrolled undergraduates, of which 381 are science majors. The school wants to grow enrollment 30 percent by 2019. One of the university's priorities is to increase the number of science and technology majors, research initiatives and grants.   

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Maqbool Patel, Coppin State

Higher Education Agency Moving From Annapolis to Baltimore

The state agency that accredits university programs is moving from Annapolis to Baltimore in a move that it hopes will save money.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission’s relocation to the Nancy Grasmick Building Complex should result in cost savings since the building is state-owned, says Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O’Malley. The education commission will share space with the Maryland State Department of Education and can share administrative and other resources at the new facility.

The commission’s 50 employees occupy 20,000 square feet at 839 Bestgate Rd. The property rents for about $35 per square foot.

“We’re now near the Annapolis Mall and the lease there is relatively expensive,” Winfield says.

The move’s date is still undetermined.

The state this month will review a $2.4 million contract with the Christman Co. of Alexandria, Va., to renovate and design the space in the new building. Winfield acknowledged that there would be an upfront cost for relocating the agency but hopes that in the long run, the move will save it money.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Board of Public Works; Takirra Winfield, Gov. Martin O'Malley's office

Construction Begins on UB's $24M Student Housing in Mount Vernon

The University of Baltimore broke ground this month on an 11-story student apartment building to open by the fall 2012 semester.

The $24 million apartment at Maryland and West Biddle Street has been dubbed the Varsity, the same name that developer Potomac Holdings of Bethesda is using for a student-housing complex at College Park.

Potomac will own and operate the 124,000-square-foot housing unit. Apartments will be available to students at the Maryland Institute College of Art and other area schools.

The 323-bed building will house a green roof jointly designed by Baltimore's Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, Inc. and Colbert Matz Rosenfelt, Inc., a civil engineering, land planning, and surveying firm. Potomac was to include 5,000 square feet of retail space, but has backed away from that, says Principal Donnie Gross. The developer thought the space would be better used for amenities such as a gym and study area.

"The amenities are more important than having a Quiznos," Gross says.

Apartments like the Varsity will get people to live closer to campus at a school historically known as a commuter college, UB spokesman Chris Hart says.

"People are moving back into Midtown. It's becoming easier to live within steps of the school."

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Chris Hart, University of Baltimore; Floura Teeter; Donnie Gross, Potomac Holdings

Hopkins Press Wraps Up $4.2M Renovation

The 114-year-old building that houses the Johns Hopkins University Press has a modern new look after a $4.1 million, two-year renovation.

The changes include new art and book displays, modern glass doors, a public space to hold author events, and infrastructure upgrades. Jack Holmes, director of development for JHU Press, says the building renovation gives the historic building a modern touch.

"It's a mix of old and new. It's just cool to see that."

Many of the office doors were replaced with frameless, frosted glass.

The 27,000-square-foot building, which dates to 1897, is a former church that went through a complete overhaul when the press moved in 1993.

The renovations also include an upgrade to its IT system and HVAC.

"There was a practical need to refresh the office after 15 years," Holmes says.   

Press officials also wanted to use the renovation as an opportunity to better display its work with modern shelves holding books it has published.

Billed as the nation's oldest university press, JHU Press publishes 60 scholarly journals and nearly 200 new books every year. Baltimore's Read & Co. Architects, which has spearheaded more than two-dozen Johns Hopkins projects, designed the renovation. Baltimore's Plano-Coudon LLC served as the general contractor.

Writer:Julekha Dash
Sources: Jack Holmes, JHU Press; Read & Co. Architects

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