J. Mehsen Joseph Public Health Laboratory

State of Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

The restoration of Baltimore's Inner Harbor has been a crucial step in the enrichment of the city. Now, the East Baltimore Development Initiative seeks to capitalize on that development's momentum, transforming a disinvested neighborhood just north of the John's Hopkins Medical Campus into a science park and mixed-income community for families, businesses and public institutions. The new  J. Mehsen Joseph Public Health Laboratory (MDPHL) is an integral part of that effort, exploring public health as a major catalyst for urban revitalization. 

Conceptually, the building seeks to engage the city architecturally while folding into its tight urban context. The traditional architecture of Baltimore, characterized by warehouses, mills, and row houses, is straight forward and honest; designed to enclose its function or manufacturing process effectively and efficiently.  Staying true to this concept, the design of MDPHL is simple, rational, and understated, an honest expression of the building's function. 

The south side of the building is the public face of the building, facing Ashland Avenue, a heavily trafficked artery into the city. It engages the community with views into warmly-lit gallery space surrounding training space, conference rooms, and administrative functions. Similarly, on the building's east side overlooking Rutland Avenue, a perforated sunscreen exposes double-height lobby space and lunch rooms. By making smaller pieces of the program visible and significant, MDPHL feels open to the community while still providing discretion and security to the labs.