Maryland Humanities Council

Cultural, Non Profit, Award Winning

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An light-filled and inspiring renovation of an historic building provides a new identity for a statewide non-profit to advance their mission.

Like many small non-profits, Maryland Humanities Council had a dream for an inspiring new headquarters but was limited by a tight budget.  A high-profile location in the heart of Mt. Vernon’s Cultural District would be the perfect platform for advancing their mission to stimulate and promote informed dialogue and civic engagement on issues critical to Maryland. After 20 years of developing programs and finding grants, the organization wanted to increase awareness, communication and action and needed a more visible identity to succeed at doing so.

Originally the Home Mutual Life Building, the eighty-year-old building commanded a stately presence on the street but was victim to dark small rooms and confusing corridors inside. The Maryland Humanities Council charged Ziger/Snead with renovating the first floor to create an inspiring, functional and flexible workspace.

With only 3,700 square feet to work with, the design team creatively found ways to bring light, storage and personality into the space while creating open and flexible areas for offices, exhibitions, research, small meetings, and gatherings of up to 50 people. Translucent plastic walls transmit light to the offices and contrast with the exposed concrete shell. An exhibition wall integrates storage and a screen for rear projection of videos and presentations. Translucent graphics applied to the windows provide some privacy while announcing the humanities disciplines.

At $84 per square foot, the Maryland Humanities Council’s new headquarters is a workplace that is dramatic and motivating. The light-filled and colorful spaces keep employees and visitors inspired but not without the flexibility and function needed to carry out the mission.  


Design Team: Steve Ziger; John Shorb; Jeff Morgan

Team: Morabito Consultants - Structural Engineer; Mueller Associates - Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Owner: Maryland Humanities Council

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Construction Cost: $310,000

Area: 3,700 sf

Completion: 2005

Program: offices, conference and meeting spaces, support space

Photography: Alain Jaramillo


  • 2006 Honor Award — AIA Maryland