In August, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) celebrates the opening of Leake Hall, a new residence hall in the College’s newly renovated residential complex, Founders Green Residential Complex (formerly The Commons). Built due to recent historic growth levels, Leake Hall is located at 130 McMechen St. in Bolton Hill, with one side occupying a large portion of North Avenue. The new building increases the Founders Green complex from 99 to 161 units and expands accommodations from 350 to 590 students.
“MICA offered one of the country’s first contemporary residence life programs specifically designed for artists and understands the importance of providing well-rounded experiences for our students,” said J. Davidson “Dusty” Porter, vice president of student affairs and dean of students. “The addition of Leake Hall and the renovations to Founders Green continue the College’s national leadership in providing comprehensive living and learning experiences, especially developed for our student artists and designers.”
The design of the 88,000-square-foot Leake Hall residence hall reflects its unique position as a connector to Station North Arts & Entertainment District from Bolton Hill, both of which have embraced MICA students as neighbors. On the North Avenue façade of Leake Hall, the architectural style gives a nod to Bolton Hill historic rowhouses, while the opposite side embraces the contemporary aesthetic of The Gateway, one of the College’s upper-class residence halls.
MICA has been a leading force behind Station North becoming a world-class center of creativity and emerging art and design. “We’re excited that Leake Hall will create a connection for residents in Bolton Hill to Station North, supporting our ongoing efforts to revitalize, enhance and add liveliness to the area,” said Mike Molla, MICA vice president for operations and board chair of Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. “MICA has been a leader in developing properties along North Avenue, bringing a once desolate area to life. Leake Hall follows the footsteps of The Gateway and Graduate Studio Center as MICA buildings on North Avenue that shape the public’s perception of an area through student activity and striking architecture.”
The designation of the complex as Founders Green honors the legacy of the creators of MICA’s charter as well as pivotal leaders in the College’s history who originated unique elements of its programming, culture and influence on art and design education.
About the Founders Green Residential Complex renovation, new construction and honorees:
* Eugene W. “Bud” Leake Hall (the new residential hall)
Leake Hall will house about 240 students and include a multifunctional box performance space, a tiered lecture hall, artist studios and two new living/learning communities focused on performing arts and health and wellness.
Yale-trained painter Captain Eugene W. “Bud” Leake became president in 1961. Under Leake’s leadership, the Maryland Institute’s enrollment quadrupled, faculty tripled, physical space doubled through acquisition of properties and the budget increased tenfold.
* John H.B. Latrobe House (formerly the Gatehouse)
The newly renovated John H.B. Latrobe House, with an expanded entrance, will help to create a visual “peek” into student life, offering welcoming social spaces to receive guests and housing expanded residence life offices. The residence life staff works along with student leaders to provide a dynamic living and learning community of artists through programming and educational opportunities.
Twenty-two-year-old John Latrobe, a Baltimore painter, inventor, author and lawyer, wrote the charter to create a school that would be a place of invention, originally named Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts and now known as MICA.
* Margaret F.S. Glace Hall (formerly Building 1)
The newly renovated Glace Hall includes a student lounge, a grill-style dining facility and expanded laundry facilities.
Margaret Glace became the first female dean at an art school when named MICA’s academic dean in 1952. As dean and acting director, she was instrumental in the Institute’s evolution into an accredited, degree-granting institution, and the foundation program for freshmen was also created under her tenure.
* John M. Carter Hall (formerly Building 2)
After Maryland Institute’s original location in downtown Baltimore was destroyed in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, Board President John M. Carter secured funding to build the Main Building on W. Mount Royal Avenue, which made the College’s continued expansion of educational programs possible.
* Julia A. Spear Hall (formerly Building 3)
Julia Spear introduced programming for women, ensuring they could receive a Maryland Institute education just like men, and she revolutionized the curriculum by bringing many of the first significant fine arts classes and an arts education curriculum to the school.
* Founders Green
The landscaped green space around which the complex sits is named Founders Green. The Glace Hall café provides a walkthrough area to a landscaped plaza, with outdoor seating, connecting to Leake Hall.
Overall complex renovations include beginning to retrofit electric HVAC units with new energy efficient gas supported units.
During the design of the project, MICA worked with the community, including an advisory group—many of whom are architects residing in Bolton Hill. The Mount Royal Improvement Association Architectural Review Committee, Baltimore City Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation and Baltimore City Department of Planning worked with the College during the planning and construction process.
The 1992 opening of The Commons, MICA’s first residence hall, dramatically changed the trajectory of the perception of Bolton Hill, turning an eyesore of a vacant lot into a vibrant, stately residential facility. The original complex includes a Gatehouse, study lounge, social lounge, and two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. The original Founders Green complex surrounds a landscaped, grassy courtyard perfect for outdoor activities.
With the expanded Founders Green complex, all international students and incoming transfer students are guaranteed housing. In total, MICA now offers nearly 1,000 beds for on-campus housing. Additional housing options, for upper-class students, include The Gateway, Meyerhoff House and Mount Royal Apartments. A limited number of apartments, located at MICA PLACE (Programs Linking Art, Culture and Education), are also available to students connected to MICA’s social design and community arts graduate programs in East Baltimore.
With the addition of the Leake Hall communities, MICA now offers three living/learning experiences. The original program, called Meyerhoff International Living Experience, fosters cross-cultural learning opportunities for both domestic and international students and celebrates MICA’s growing diversity.
The architect for Leake Hall is Hord Coplan Macht, and the architect for the renovations of Founders Green is Ayers Saint Gross. The Founders Green project includes Whiting-Turner Contracting Company as the contractor. The sustainably-designed new building met the Baltimore City Green Building Standards.
The new facility cost $16.3 million, and the renovations to the current complex cost $3 million. The construction and renovations have been financed primarily by tax exempt bonds issued by MICA through the Maryland Health and Higher Education Facilities Authority.