Baltimore World Trade Center
Located on the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, the Baltimore World Trade Center is the world's tallest equilateral five-sided building (the five-sided JPMorgan Chase Tower in Houston, Texas is taller, but has unequal sides). It was designed by the firm of the famous architect I.M. Pei, with the principal architects being Henry Cobb and Pershing Wong. The building was completed in 1977 at a cost of $22 million. The landmark tower houses the headquarters of the Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Alignment and lighting
The building was positioned so that a corner points out towards the waters of the Inner Harbor, suggesting the prow of a ship. Perched at the Harbor's edge, the building appears to rise out of the water when viewed from certain vantage points. Giant floodlights in the base of each of the Center's five recessed corners can dramatically illuminate the building at night from the ground up, with oversized parabolic mirrors at the top of the five corners then reflecting the light outward in brilliant V-shaped beams. The "beacon" effect was loosely inspired by lighthouses found along the Chesapeake Bay. This signature lighting scheme can be seen in the Baltimore skyline from significant distance under most weather conditions, but it is greatly diminished when one or more of the floodlights are burned out, obstructed, or imprecisely aligned with the companion mirror(s). Additionally, the floodlights must all be fully powered and the mirrors must be cleaned to remain equally reflective.

Top of the World
An observation deck on the 27th floor, called "Top of the World," provides a 360-degree view of the city. The observation deck is open to the public during daytime hours. Observation deck visiting hours September 8 - December 31, 2010
  • Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
January 1 - March 31, 2011
  • Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Impact of September 11 attacks
Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, for several months additional protection was given to the Baltimore building due to the similarity in their names. The giant exterior floodlights were turned off and remained dark until the end of 2007. The waterfront walkway beneath the building, an extension of the Harborplace promenade, is now only open to the public during daylight hours. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley announced on September 10, 2010 that the Baltimore World Trade Center would be the site of a memorial to the former New York World Trade Center. A piece of steel from the twin towers will be incorporated into memorial to be installed along the pedestrian promenade of the Baltimore World Trade Center on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attack.

Hurricane Isabel flooding
Hurricane Isabel flooded the Baltimore World Trade Center's basement with 3 million gallons of water in September 2003, destroying electrical, mechanical and telecommunications equipment, serving the entire building, located there. The building remained closed for clean-up for more than a month after the hurricane struck, displacing 60 tenants.

State ownership of building
The building is owned by the Maryland Port Administration. As a result, there have been public discussions about whether it should be sold in debates over state budgets. In the "Maryland Transition" report to the incoming Governor Martin O'Malley in January 2007, the Transportation work group noted that former Governor Robert Ehrlich favored selling the Baltimore World Trade Center. Governor O'Malley chose to maintain state ownership. During the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008, the Baltimore World Trade Center incurred an operating loss of $2.3 million. This was due to an occupancy rate that had declined to 43 percent by March 2008. A low occupancy level was expected "to make it easier to sell." The Maryland Board of Public Works took two important steps in 2007 and 2008 toward improving occupancy at the World Trade Center: streamlining lease approvals and hiring an agent. In December 2007, the Board delegated its lease approval authority to the Secretary of Transportation. Meridian Management Corp. was awarded a 5-year contract, beginning on June 10, 2008, to serve as the World Trade Center's leasing agent. Meridian's contract, approved by the Board of Public Works on May 21, 2008, also includes operation and maintenance of the building.

Notable tenants
  • Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development
  • Pride of Baltimore, Inc.
  • Maryland Port Administration
  • World Trade Center Institute


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