Text by Ian Volner
Once a major hub for Baltimore’s Czech-American community that used to go by the name Little Bohemia, the neighborhood now named Middle East is these days a predominantly African-American area of aging brick rowhouses—the kind of streetscape familiar from television shows like David Simon’s The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street, both of which were inspired by, and filmed in, the area. Despite the fact that 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, public investment in the area has been lacking—as indeed it has been throughout the city—which makes the construction of the first new public school in Baltimore in 30 years a major event. New York–based Rogers Partners’ scheme for the Henderson-Hopkins School encompasses a 7-acre campus and comprises a full-spectrum educational environment for 700-plus children from preschool through eighth grade.
Occupying five red precast concrete–clad pavilions, the ensemble creates a village-like atmosphere that adheres to the surrounding street grid and community scale and acts as a natural extension of the urban fabric. It’s complemented by a sequence of separate spaces refashioned from pre-existing rowhouses that host an early childcare center, a library, a gym, and other community facilities. At the heart of the complex, a central mall acts as a public space for neighbors and an outdoor classroom for the students, completing the union of school and city, educational atmosphere and urban amenity. For Middle East, a neighborhood desperately in need of both, the Rogers Partners team came through, providing local residents not just with a place for learning, but a catalyst for collective renewal.
Project: Henderson-Hopkins School, Baltimore
Client: East Baltimore Community School (owner); East Baltimore Development; Johns Hopkins University School of Education
Architect: Rogers Partners, New York . Robert M. Rogers, FAIA (partner/principal-in-charge); Vincent Lee (associate partner/design leader); Timothy Fryatt (associate/project architect for construction administration); Kip Katich (project architect)
Structural Engineer: Faisant Associates
M/E/P+FP Engineer: Global Engineering Solutions
Geotechnical Engineer: Eba Engineering
Civil Engineer: Phoenix Engineering
Landscape: Floura Teeter Landscape Architects
Lighting Designer: Flux Studio
Acoustical Consultant: Spexsys
Sustainability Consultant: Terra Logos: Eco Architecture
Food Service Consultant: Cini-Little International
Theater Consultant: Fisher Dachs Associates
Graphics: Salestrom Design
General Contractor: The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.
Size: 125,000 gross square feet (buildings); 156,000 gross square feet (outside spaces)
Cost: $53 million (total); $42 million (construction)
This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of ARCHITECT magazine.
Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The new Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center, together called Henderson Hopkins, is the first new Baltimore public school built in 30 years. A cornerstone for the largest redevelopment project in Baltimore, it is envisioned as a catalyst in the revitalization of East Baltimore. The seven-acre campus houses 540 K-8 students and 175 pre-school children. The design follows four key principles: PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION: A ‘container’ for learning and teaching, the school is designed to adapt to various pedagogies over time. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: The program, like the architecture, is informed by the needs and desires of East Baltimore’s residents. INTEGRATED URBAN PLANNING: Site planning and building massing integrate the school to the historic East Baltimore urban fabric. ARCHITECTURE OF ITS PLACE: The school employs an architectural language of cultural heritage to become a prominent social civic space.
FROM THE AIA:
A 125,000-square-foot, K-8 partnership school and early childhood center is a progressive learning environment for children and a laboratory for the next generation of educators. The school is a cluster of “containers for learning” inspired by East Baltimore’s row houses, stoops, and social civic spaces. Through its intentionally porous, safe, urban plan, and the craftsmanship of light, materiality and performance, its design respects history and supports the future of education and of its neighborhood.