As the largest historically Black institution in Maryland, Baltimore’s Morgan State University provided higher education to Black people at a time when most institutions did not. Today, it is known for its historic roots and for its growing reputation as a prominent research hub. Architecturally, the campus delivers its own balance of past and present, featuring a neoclassical quad and traditional academic buildings to the north and more recent arrivals — including a library completed in 2008 — to the south. The only thing that was missing: a clear transition between these two zones.
Now, Toronto’s Teeple Architects and Baltimore firm GWWO Architects have collaborated to introduce a proper gateway in the form of the new Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall Student Services Center. Creating stronger visual cohesion between existing campus elements, the complex also brings a number of previously disparate student services together under one roof.
While Tyler Hall’s sculptural forms make for an unabashedly modern facade, Eramosa limestone cladding from Ontario establishes a degree of kinship between the building and its older stone neighbours. Meanwhile, eye-catching angular soffits clad in contrasting copper-orange metal act to reintroduce moments of bold modernity and draw attention to the building’s main entrances.
In yet another example of improved coherence, the new structure also successfully navigates two different grades, creating a stronger connection between an elevated student commons area and the street level below with a new staircase and accessible ramp.
To those approaching from the campus commons, the structure’s sweeping forms feel like an open embrace, wrapping around their surroundings to draw students in. Along with making for an inviting gesture, these curves and cantilevers also work to preserve existing sightlines enjoyed by nearby buildings like Earl S. Richardson Library.
Indoors, Tyler Hall’s expressive twists and turns become an intuitive wayfinding tool. By instilling a clear sense of flow, they lead the way to a one-stop service hub that concentrates a variety of departments behind a single counter for greater ease of access.
To add to the building’s welcoming sense of approachability and dynamism, ceilings are lined in warm wood — which also covers the underside of a sculptural feature staircase — and punctuated by light wells that offer glimpses of upstairs destinations. Administrative offices are organized around a five-storey atrium that draws natural light deep into work and collaboration spaces.
All in all, Tyler Hall teaches a valuable lesson in respecting an institution’s historic character, while also building upon this existing identity with more modern gestures.
Teeple and GWWO Architects introduce a student hub that bridges the historic and modern sides of a Baltimore campus.