2Hopkins Apartments | Berman Enterprises

Baltimore, MD

The stone-paver flooring and concrete walls of the former Mercantile Bank and Trust Building in Baltimore's Charles Center didn't exactly lend themselves to new life as a residential apartment building. But that was our design challenge as we contemplated an adaptive-reuse project that became 2Hopkins, a complex with 180 apartment units plus a federal government agency headquarters. Its historic designation prevented us from altering anything that was original to the building's exterior or its soaring interior lobby, which was designed in the late 60s by the Baltimore firm of Peterson and Brickbauer. That meant the building's bronze-tinted glass curtain walls—in addition to the aforementioned stone and concrete—had to stay.

The Brutalist details seemed overwhelming at first, but we were pleasantly surprised with features such as the lobby's elegant marble bench. Luckily, because the midcentury style is enjoying a strong revival these days, we had plenty of resources to refresh the space and transform the interior architecture into a modern-day, Class-A apartment building. 

The lobby and elevator-area decorative lighting was not original to the building, so we replaced them with custom chandeliers and pendants. Rather than remove the large, non-original panels of wood from the walls flanking the elevator area, the design team chose to refinish them and add decorative screening to serve as a handsome backdrop for the new free-standing steel structure concierge desk and coffee bar. Because we chose bronze metal finishes for the new features and chandeliers, the lobby's two-story anodized bronze and tinted-glass storefront felt more natural to a residential environment.

The design team sourced furnishings for the lobby and 21st-floor clubroom in a palette of neutrals with accents of orange and turquoise—midcentury hues that are also enjoying a renaissance. A vintage 1960s clock display became as a pleasant nod to the past in the thoroughly modern fitness area—one of many 21st-century amenities throughout the building.

The large, existing basement space lent itself beautifully towards expanding the resident amenities package to include an indoor pet spa and dog walk where residents can groom their dogs and walk them in an indoor ventilated recreation area with drainage and waste disposal.  No need walk outside at night or in poor weather.  A no-frills weight room, climbing wall and punching-bag room provides a hangout for those residents who are into serious training. 

Some office buildings pose steep challenges for developers who want to adapt them as residential apartments with unit layouts that make sense, but 2 Hopkins offered the perfect footprint for our endeavor.  The floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides of the building, paired with 10-foot ceiling heights on every floor, created views of Baltimore that would be difficult to attain in a new-construction highrise.  The South side of the building overlooks Oriole Park at Camden Yards, so some residents can watch the game from their apartment—and everyone can see it while they’re grilling on the roof deck.

GALA Winner for Design and Architecture, Multi-Family Renovation/Conversion - 2018