Dental School Building

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland

 
The design of the new dental school required accommodation on many levels. It is a densely urban project, institutional in character and complex in its technical, social and organizational requirements. The challenge was to design a $104 million, state-of-the-art oral health clinical research and teaching facility, while responding to the needs of its multiple users faculty, students, researchers and patients.

The design strategy organizes 360,000 sf of program space, placing educational and clinical areas closer to the ground on the lower five levels, and more restricted research areas on the upper four levels. An extensive infrastructure for mechanical, electrical, and information technology services runs along a central spine, ganging considerable trunk and distribution lines as compactly as possible. Having fulfilled the functional and technical requirements, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson examined massing and spatial options to formulate a strategy for evoking the building program's intangible qualities.

Two major decisions characterize the strategy. First, a low south-facing, glass-enclosed entry arcade oriented to the sun, and containing entrances, concourse, lobbies, exhibits and a public café extends along Baltimore Avenue, reinforcing its urban setting and engaging in the life of the street. Second, an eleven-story tower mass extends northward a full city block. Two large atria punctuate the tower's volume, inviting and orienting people on their journey through the building.

Within the tower, a south-facing, nine-story atrium creates a light-filled vitrine and a welcoming, dynamic introduction to the amenities and services within. A second transverse atrium, which begins at the fifth level, fully bisects the building at its midpoint bringing light and spatial relief to the dense array of academic and research activities at its flanks. Dramatic in profile, this tall narrow slice of space is illuminated by "sun catchers," shutter-like appendages designed to reflect light into the center of the building. The atria form two bright, powerful spaces where formal and informal conference rooms, lounges and waiting spaces are aggregated. Balconies that resemble opera boxes overlook the activities above and below, providing a stimulating setting for social and intellectual activities.

Brick, limestone, metal and glass are the principal materials. Brick and limestone link the new facility to the older, more traditional campus buildings, while metal and glass create a modernist massing to give scale, expression and clarity to its form. Brick piers express the structural grid at the building's exterior and impart measure, order and a strong verticality to the composition, reasserting the project's human scale. Glass and metal planes offer transparency and reflection on surface and edge, in contrast to the articulated planes of solid brick. Anticipating the need for future flexibility, the architects designed the building's laboratories to take advantage of emerging educational technologies, including computer-assisted instruction, on-line courses, enhanced simulations, and virtual reality applications. With careful attention to the precise requirements of the diverse and technologically demanding program, the architects employed humanizing architectural contrasts to create a new paradigm for oral health education in a facility that takes its place in the campus and city as a center of care-giving, learning and social engagement.

Awards

2008 Bronze Award, Educational Category
2008 Brick in Architecture Awards of the Brick Industry Association
2007 Merit Award for Design
AIA Pennsylvania
2005 Craftsmanship Award for Drafting/Coordination
Building Congress and Exchange of Metropolitan Baltimore
2005 Craftsmanship Award for Mechanical/Plumbing
Building Congress and Exchange of Metropolitan Baltimore
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