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Demolition Begins on Anthony Lumsden's Bard Building in Baltimore

In a significant chapter for Baltimore's architectural landscape, demolition has commenced on the Bard Building, a distinctive structure designed by the late Anthony Lumsden, a prominent figure among California-based modernist architects and a former member of the esteemed "LA 12" group. Situated at the intersection of Lombard Street and Market Place, the five-story Bard Building was envisioned by Lumsden during his tenure as director of design at Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM), marking one of the few East Coast projects bearing his imprint.

Named in honor of Harry Bard, founder and inaugural president of the Baltimore City Community College, the Bard Building stood as a beacon of educational excellence upon its completion in 1976. Spanning an impressive 172,642 square feet, the structure housed classrooms, a library, a fashion design studio, student lounges, and faculty offices, symbolizing the college's commitment to academic advancement and community engagement. Its architectural significance was underscored by its unique design, which departed from traditional red brick facades prevalent in the vicinity, opting instead for striking red ceramic tiles—a hallmark of Lumsden's innovative approach.

Despite its initial acclaim, the Bard Building faced challenges over the years, compounded by shifting priorities within the college and environmental factors unique to the East Coast climate. In recent times, the building fell into disrepair, prompting calls for its demolition and the exploration of future redevelopment opportunities. Recognizing the need for revitalization, Maryland Governor Wes Moore and the state's Board of Public Works allocated $4.2 million for the demolition of the Bard Building, paving the way for a transformative green space to emerge in its place.

The decision to dismantle the Bard Building reflects broader trends in Baltimore's architectural evolution, as evidenced by the removal of other modernist landmarks in recent years. From the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre to the McKeldin Fountain, the city has witnessed the gradual transition from mid-century structures to contemporary urban landscapes. The fate of the Bard Building, like its predecessors, embodies the cyclical nature of architectural discourse and the imperative of adaptive reuse in the face of changing societal needs.

As demolition progresses and plans for the future take shape, the legacy of Anthony Lumsden endures, underscoring his contributions to the architectural fabric of Baltimore and beyond. While the Bard Building may fade into memory, its impact on the city's cultural heritage remains indelible, serving as a testament to the transformative power of architecture in shaping urban environments.

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