Expansion of The Commons Accommodates Student Growth and Supports the College’s Efforts to Enhance Surrounding Communities
Posted 07.13.12 by MICA communications
BALTIMORE - MICA announces the construction of Commons II, a new residence hall that will increase the capacity of the College's freshman residential complex, The Commons, from approximately 350 to 590 students. Commons II will be located at 130 McMechen St. in Bolton Hill, with one side occupying a large portion of North Avenue. In addition to the construction of the new building, renovations to the existing complex will include an expanded entrance lobby and co-curricular programming spaces for students. Commons II construction is scheduled to begin in late fall 2012, with plans for the new construction and renovations to be completed by fall 2013.
"The Commons expansion and renovation accommodate MICA's growing student body and an increasing desire for on-campus housing," said J. Davidson "Dusty" Porter, vice president of student affairs and dean of students. "More and more, MICA students are finding that living on campus enriches their overall learning experience, and The Commons, with its community-oriented atmosphere, is specifically designed with the first-year and transfer student in mind. We are excited that soon all of these students will be able to share in this experience together."
The design of the 88,000-square-foot Commons II residence hall will reflect 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 side of Commons II, the architectural style will give a nod to Bolton Hill historic rowhouses, while the opposite side will embrace the modern 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. "The increased liveliness and new landscaping surrounding Commons II extending out to North Avenue will support our ongoing efforts to revitalize and enhance Bolton Hill and Station North, making them more attractive for residence, entertainment, culture and commerce," said Mike Molla, MICA vice president for operations and board chair of Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc.
Commons II will house about 240 students and will include a multifunctional black box performance space, a tiered lecture hall and artist studios. The planned building will increase The Commons complex from 99 to 161 units. Outside, there will be a landscaped plaza and parking.
Renovations to the existing Commons complex include improvements to the Gatehouse (a small building near the entrance of the grounds) and overall facility. The Commons will add a laundry center, mailboxes, a café lounge and possibly an exhibition space. The Commons I café will provide a walkthrough area to a landscaped plaza, with outdoor seating, connecting to Commons II.
During the design of the project, MICA has 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 and Baltimore City Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation have worked with the College during the planning and construction process.
The 1992 opening of Commons I, 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 Commons surrounds a landscaped, grassy courtyard perfect for outdoor activities.
MICA created one of the country's first contemporary residence life programs specifically designed for artists. The layout of The Commons apartments supports student artists who are in the midst of their Foundation (first) year explorations and helps foster an overall community feel. The Commons staff works along with student leaders to provide a dynamic living and learning community of artists through programming and educational opportunities.
MICA's admission trends continue to experience growth in student size and global diversity. The College's number of new first-time freshmen has risen from 163 at the time of the Commons I opening in 1992 to an average entering class of 440 in recent years.
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.
The architect for Commons II is Hord Coplan Macht, and the architect for Commons I and Gatehouse renovations is Ayers Saint Gross. The Commons project includes Whiting-Turner Contracting Company as the contractor and Lazarus Design Associates as the landscape designer. The sustainably-designed new building will seek certification from the Baltimore City Green Building Standards.
The preliminary estimated budget is $16.5 million for the new facility and $2 million for the renovations to the current Commons complex. The construction and renovations will be financed by bonds.
Image captions (top-bottom): Renderings credited to Hord Coplan Macht. Northeast corner of Commons II; Southeast corner of Commons II.
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 B.F.A., M.F.A., M.A., M.A./M.B.A., M.A.T., M.P.S. and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.