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Building Progress
As the skin goes up on the new clinical towers, construction stays on schedule.

blank The construction site on Dec. 24, 2008, looking west on Orleans Street toward downtown Baltimore.
The construction site on Dec. 24, 2008, looking west on Orleans Street toward downtown Baltimore.

The air ducts have been placed on the top of the children’s tower and the stilts await the installation of the helipad atop the adult building. Hopkins’ $1 billion construction project is roughly 45 percent complete.

In between his nonstop meetings and travels, Michael Iati, director of architecture and planning for the Johns Hopkins Health System, found time to sit down with Dome for an update.

We’ve heard you describe the architecture for this project as “extroverted.” Do you care to comment?
In the past, the architecture of our buildings has tended to go two ways. It either makes a nod to the historic, as envisioned in the Weinberg Building, or it is relatively serene and quiet in its approach. The research buildings, the outpatient center, they’re very handsome buildings, but they’re straightforward and conservative. This guy is out here wearing Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat. Not only is it the big guy, but he’s wearing all the bling.

That’s different for Hopkins.
I think it’s appropriately different, that it says, We are that big place, we are Hopkins, but we’re a new generation. You can find it and it’s a beacon, because you can spot the building from miles away with that bright color and the highly reflective glass. It projects an image of being more robust, a little less austere and still welcoming. From an urban design standpoint, this building is pretty proud of itself, and when you get closer to it, it very much invites you in. The way this building will interact with people will be much more engaging than any of our older buildings.

You use the words humanizing and dignified.
Absolutely. That was a precept of the design from the get-go, from before anybody envisioned what this thing was going to look like. The clinical people who worked with us may not have used those words, but because of the way they think about what they do, that thought was there. We want it to be respectful to the patients in terms of how we move the patients, how we treat the guests. You won’t have to see a patient in a public space who’s in a very compromised physical state who doesn’t want to be seen. 

And we’ll be hiding the back of the house, too.
You won’t have to see the guys coming through with cartons of paper for somebody’s office. If people use the building the way it was designed, all of that can be invisible. And when we’re trying to keep you out of certain areas, we will do it in a way that is not harsh, not hostile, but is part of the natural flow. When you come off the elevator lobbies, for instance, there’s always a lounge with glass and a view. And then there are doors that will be closed most of the time, and it’ll be pretty clear that I’m leaving the public realm and I’m going into an area where someone is probably going to ask me what they can do for me. The architecture conveys that message.

–Reported by MEM

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