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Layers of History

Layers of History

Michael Moran / OTTO

When we won the competition to design   

 

We created a gateway from Charles Street and we set our buildings low to extend views from the Beach—the nickname of the central campus quadrangle—to the south. We proposed a gateway link to the garden of the Baltimore Museum of Art, thus connecting the two institutions. Another competitor, friends and colleagues Heikkinen Komonen of Helsinki, proposed a much more open building that set the theater on Charles along with considerable glazing. It might be interesting to review the three proposals.

We understand that today Baltimore is a different place and that the administration, students, and their needs have changed. Today there is a desire to create a more direct connection to the city and for more socializing spaces for students. The site of the Mattin Center is an important one for the university and campus and we believe it can accommodate additional density and change. While we would have very much welcomed being part of the discussion to rethink this area of campus, we can understand that the new administration and student body want a different approach. This is unlike the MoMA issue where a cultural institution seemed to deny its mission as a protector of art, architecture, and design.

If the administration elects to demolish the Mattin Center, it should not be without very serious debate. We are concerned, not so much because of our project or egos (though it would hurt since we believe in and are very proud of our work), but because to do so is unimaginative and unsustainable, and because it does not acknowledge the layers of history that are crucial to an understanding of our culture, our campuses, and our cities.


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