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Baltimore Architecture Foundation

ARCHITECTURE MADNESS: Sweet 16 Round

The Sweet 16 Round of Baltimore Architecture Madness is underway. Represented are buildings that span the 150-year history of AIA Baltimore from the Peabody Library to Clipper Mill. Learn more about what makes each of these 16 buildings so special. Will your favorites move on to the Quarterfinals?

See Voting Results

Hear from our board members:
“In one sentence describe what you believe makes architecture stand the test of time.”


“I think what makes architecture stand the test of time is the presence of durability in which people can enjoy and be influenced by its design.”

-Lafaithea Stewart, BAF Board Director

“Architecture stands the test of time when it inspires the human soul and creates space for collective experiences.”

-Sarsfield Williams, BAF Board Director

“The very best Architecture communicates essential beauty, graceful balance and joyous delight that is both timeless and transcendent.”

-Anthony Consoli, BAF Board Director

Vote For Your Sweet 16 Favorites Now!

1870’s – 1890’s

Photography Credit: Wikipedia Images

Peabody Library
E. George Lind (1878)

The iconic George Peabody Library was designed by architect Edmund G. Lind in collaboration with the first provost, Dr. Nathaniel H. Morison. Renowned for its striking architectural interior, the Peabody Stack Room contains five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies that rise dramatically towards the skylight. Begun in 1860, the library collection now contains more than 300,000 volumes, largely from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is consistently ranked among the world’s most beautiful libraries.

Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory.
Image courtesy Vivian Marie Doering.

Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory
George Frederick (1888)

The Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory is the second oldest steel frame and glass building still used in the United States. The conservatory originally consisted of the historic Palm House and Orchid Room. In the 1920s, production greenhouses were added to support the collection. In 2004, after a major renovation and expansion, the greenhouses were transformed into three distinct biomes featuring plant material from tropical, desert and Mediterranean climates.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Mount Royal Station
Ephraim Francis Baldwin & Josias Pennington (1896)

The Mount Royal Station was designed to be Baltimore’s finest. After all, it was part of a massive expansion the B&O undertook for its New York passenger service, and this would be the first thing New Yorkers would see stepping into Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun declared it the  “the most splendid station in the country built and used by only one railroad.” The station was later converted to art studios for MICA by architects Cochran, Stephenson and Donkervoet.

Photography Credit: Patterson Park Pagoda (Smallbones)

Patterson Park Pagoda
Charles Latrobe (1890)

From Explore Baltimore Heritage:

“Designed in 1890 by Charles H. Latrobe, then Superintendent of Parks, the Pagoda, was originally known as the Observatory. While known as the Pagoda because of its oriental architectural appearance, the design was intended to reflect the bold Victorian style of the day…The Pagoda stands as an iconic structure for Patterson Park and Baltimore City and signified the renaissance of the community around Patterson Park.”

1900’s – 1930’s

Photography Credit: Pratt Library (Joseph Romeo)

Enoch Pratt Central Library
Clyde Friz (1933)

From Explore Baltimore Heritage:

“The construction of the current central library building on Cathedral Street began in 1931 and was completed in 1933. Architect Clyde N. Friz hoped to avoid the old-fashioned institutional character of the past in his design and instead to give the library “a dignity characterized by friendliness rather than aloofness…Although allowing for expansion, the design of the new building retained one of Pratt’s steadfast requirements: that there be no stairs leading into the main entrance. This seemingly odd requirement, and one that certainly went against the grain of architectural design for grand civic institutions at the time, was based on Pratt’s philosophy that the library should be open to all people.”

Photography Credit: Ayers Saint Gross (Joseph Romeo)

Photography Credit: Penn Station (Eli Pousson)

Penn Station
Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison (1911)

When Baltimore’s old Victorian Union Station needed an update, Murchison responded with a stately Beaux-Arts structure clad in terra cotta and granite with a cast iron marquee running the length of the facade. Even more impressive is its interior featuring three stunning leaded glass skylights. There are also cast-iron balconies, marble walls, mahogany benches, and a rare extant example of Rookwood Pottery tiles.

Image Courtesy of Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower

Bromo Seltzer Tower
Joseph Evans Sperry (1911)

From Explore Baltimore Heritage:

“The iconic Bromo-Seltzer Tower has been a Baltimore landmark since its construction in 1911. At fifteen stories, the tower made the Bromo-Seltzer factory the tallest building in the city. The tower boasted a four-dial gravity clock that was the largest in the world (bigger, even, than London’s Big Ben) and an illuminated, rotating 51-foot blue steel bottle. The iconic design immediately secured the tower’s spot as a favorite of city residents and visitors alike. Ship captains traveling up the bay reportedly used the bottle as a beacon to guide them toward the Light Street docks and the removal of the blue bottle in 1936 is still a sore point with many Baltimoreans…Though the factory was torn down in 1969, the 289-foot tower survived several threats of demolition and in 2007 philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown worked with Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts to transform the structure into 33 artists’ studios.”

Belvedere Hotel
Parker & Thomas (c.1903)

The Beaux-Arts Belvedere Hotel is a beloved Mount Vernon landmark featuring a towering 35-foot high mansard roof with broad moldings and ornate dormers. The hotel was legendary, hosting the who’s who of its day and a real deal speakeasy. Despite being converted to apartments in the 1970s, one still gets a sense of the grand hotel on the inside. Weddings and conferences are still hosted in its ballrooms, and you can still sip on classic cocktails at the old speakeasy, today the Owl Bar.

1940’s  – 1970’s

Photography Credit: AIA Baltimore Historic Resource Committee Archives

One Charles Center
Mies van der Rohe (1962)

This somber, elegantly proportioned 24-story tower, designed by Mies van der Rohe, one of the giants of twentieth-century architecture, was the first new building in Charles Center—the massive urban renewal project to revitalize Baltimore’s downtown core. Mies van der Rohe was selected to design the building as part of a design competition that included architect giants of the day such as Marcel Breuer. The building is home to several architecture firms and the new Baltimore Center for Architecture and Design.

Image Courtesy of Farragutful

Cathedral of Mary Our Queen
Maginnis & Walsh (1959)

Architects Maginnis & Walsh were asked to come up with three designs: traditional, modified and modern. The Archdiocese chose the modified design which combined the traditional Gothic style with modern Art Deco elements. That mix of styles combined with its imposing size seen from N. Charles Street makes the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen one of the most striking religious buildings in Baltimore. Today, the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen serves as the cathedral church of the Primary See, the first archdiocese of the United States.

Photography Credit: Church of the Redeemer (James Rosenthal, HABS)

Church of the Redeemer
Pietro Belluschi (1958)

The Church of the Redeemer was built in 1958 and designed by architect Pietro Belluschi in collaboration with RTKL. It is a Mid-Century Modern, re-interpretive addition to the original 1856 church by R. Snowden Andrews (1830-1903). Its sophisticated design integrates original stone and like materials to create a modern interpretation of spirituality.

Image Courtesy of Temple Oheb Shalom

Temple Oheb Shalom
Walter Gropius, Sheldon I. Leavitt (1960)

Temple Oheb Shalom is a landmark modernist religious building designed by Sheldon Leavitt with consulting architect Walter Gropius, who designed the four vaults that give the facade and interior their character. The construction of the vaults used continuously poured concrete, a new technique at the time. The temple also includes significant artworks, including a pair of glass mosaic murals designed by Bauhaus artist György Kepes.

1980’s  –  2010’s

Photography Credit: Camden Yards (Keith Allison)

Camden Yards
HOK w/ RTKL (now CallisonRTKL) (1992)

From the SAH Archipedia:

“Oriole Park at Camden Yards had a profound influence on late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century stadium design in the United States. Opened in 1992 as the home of the American League Baltimore Orioles, Oriole Park was the first baseball-only Major League Baseball stadium built in decades. Perhaps even more significantly, Baltimore’s downtown ballpark ushered in a new retro design approach inspired by vintage baseball stadiums, while also embracing its historic setting.”

Photograph Courtesy of Quinn Evans

Clipper Mill
Cho Benn Holback (now Quinn Evans) (2007)

The reimagined Clipper Mill Industrial Park was the inspired result of deeply thoughtful innovation and a commitment to sustainable development, hallmarks of the exceptional work of developer Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse and architect Cho Benn Holback. The project is on the site of the 19th century Poole & Hunt Foundry and Machine Works, which was severely damaged in a tragic fire. The team successfully blended old and new, salvaging what remained from the fire, adapting the buildings that survived, and designing new buildings that create a timeless connection between the past and future. A premier example of transit-oriented development with proximity to trails and the light rail, Clipper Mill is home to residences and businesses that carry on the site’s legacy of creativity and manufacturing.

 

Photograph Courtesy of The American Visionary Arts Museum

American Visionary Art Museum
Alex Castro, Rebecca Swanston, and Davis, Bowen & Friedel (1995)

The American Visionary Arts Museum is a brilliant example of sculptural expression. Architect Rebecca Swanston and artist Alex Castro the curving Trolley Works building and enlarged it with an addition that echoes its curves and creates a strong sense of motion. It’s playful, eye catching facade expresses the artworks to be found inside by self-taught individuals that make AVAM one of the city’s most beloved institutions.

National Aquarium
Cambridge Seven (1981)

The National Aquarium is the sculptural centerpiece of the Inner Harbor and one of the city’s beloved attractions. Cambridge Seven sought to design a boldly expressive aquarium with an exterior as dramatic as its interior. It paid off. This iconic Baltimore landmark has inspired aquariums around the world.