The conversion of a historic 1920’s apartment building into a state-of-the-art student apartment complex was no small task. The building was constructed of structural clay tile (which was particularly difficult to work with), had inadequate exit stairs, antiquated elevators, mechanical and electrical systems and suffered from deferred maintenance. As we approached the project, we realized that the skin of the building had a period elegance that needed to be reinforced rather than changed. We looked at the proper historic replacement of all the windows, the repair of the dramatic mansion copper roof that crowns the structure and the development of a clubhouse with dramatic exterior decks within that crowning mansion feature. The top of the building was easier to reconfigure as it really set the stage for the development of a dramatic student community space with balconies that gave commanding views of the Johns Hopkins campus.
The base level and body of the building were a completely different story. There were a number of floor plan step-ins as the building rose from the first floor to the 12th so the floor plans changed dramatically as you ascended the building. This created issues in creating a cohesive design throughout the building. Using the latest technologies in kitchens, bathrooms and bedroom designs that were sized for urban dwellers proved to be the solution to many of the problems that we encountered while creating the state of the art student residences. Renovating the exiting and elevator system to serve the floors required removal of the existing shaft and replacement with a new shaft to house larger cabs.
At the base of the building, you encounter a grand space constructed of large stone panels which have quite bit of character. The major entry from Charles Street with the marquis and stone details were kept intact. Behind this grand entry, we created a series of public spaces that give students a dramatic work area and lounge space as well as providing offices for the leasing staff.
We were charged with creating an attractive exterior space and did so by depressing and landscaping the area that faces West Bishops Road. We had looked at a concept that would provide an access on this lower level, as well as some activity rooms, but the structure of the foundations made it impossible to create wall penetrations without serious structural reinforcement. Instead, we chose to create an attractive park for students to enjoy the outdoors. We were also concerned a great deal about restructuring the parking lot and restriping it, and found that we were able to gain more parking spaces in the process.