Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA. An "award-winning" 1960's urban renewal transformed a once vibrant urban neighborhood into a single use, government office park.
Transforming 1960’s auto-centric urban renewal: A 2nd level bridges removed pedestrians from “unsafe streets.” Underground garages prevented the need to “go outside.” Presently, the land is occupied by state agencies with 3,000 employees, most of whom commute from the suburbs. There is no retail and no housing.
Re-connecting local history, culture, and community: The site is surrounded by diverse communities, cultural venues and museums, educational institutions, and historic districts. Area streets have become highways, throughways, and barriers to economic, social, and physical connectivity. The plan restores the street grid and the area’s traditional “urbanism.” A greater mix of uses will support a sustainable and seamlessly integrated district.
Engaging the public and local stakeholders: An intense, community-driven public planning process, dubbed “Cityscaping,” identified community-driven goals and programs. The community called for shared economic prosperity, diversity, and inclusion; improved connectivity; higher density; restoration of the street grid. “Human capital” goals included enhanced area quality-of-life, improved educational opportunities, and improved access to jobs and services.
Creating a “culture of sustainability”: The master plan’s premise is based upon the belief to “practice, promote and teach sustainability” throughout planning, implementation, and operations. The “Sustainability Action Plan” calls for LEED Silver buildings, green technologies reuse of buildings, and “green” guidelines for residents and users. The master plan meets LEED ND Platinum criteria.
Celebrating Transit: The master plan, importantly, places over 4 million sf of mixed-use near transit, that is anticipated to increase Metro and Light Rail ridership ten fold. The master plan calls for a high-density, mixed use, mixed income TOD neighborhood with 30% affordable housing. A new Metro station with bike depot and restaurant will serve as an “iconic station in the park.”
Lessons learned: Public Process-- 6 million square-foot mixed-use, infill development approved in 6 months: Large urban infill projects can have enormous impacts on existing neighborhoods; some good, some bad, some real, and some perceived. A meaningful and engaging public process, here, enabled residents and stakeholders to voice their concerns and suggestions BEFORE THE PROJECT Became Political--Density, building heights, traffic, and mix of uses were NOT major concerns, as may be typically expected. Rather, the community was more concerned with quality of development and design, improving connectivity and access to transit, and how the project would support economic, social and affordable housing goals of area neighborhoods and districts. Ultimately, elected officials approved the project in record time, but not without knowing there was broad community support, first. Public-Private Partnership (PPP)-- Master plan is informed by the reality of economics, phasing, and the nuances of the PPP. Master plans are often ill informed of the legal and economic realities of public-private-partnerships and, as a result, the “idealism” cannot be realized. The design team remained engaged in virtually every aspect of this project, including ongoing dialogue regarding the public private partnership among city and state agencies and the developer team. This transparent process has enabled the design team to educate the partnership regarding important urban design and sustainability design principles, ensuring project goals, phasing, budget and policies that support these important considerations can be achieved and are understood in the “legal language” of the “agreement.” To that end, the partnership has garnered public support for tax increment financing, historic tax credits, affordable housing tax credits, and various grants to support the project. Importantly, the process has enabled the design team to better understand legal, financial and political complexities, and make sure such considerations as development and infrastructure phasing, and definition of “discreet” projects, are respected in the plan.
Transect Zone(s): T6 core.
Project or Plan's Scale: Neighborhood
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Civic buildings & parks, Green buildings, Mixed uses, Rail/fixed guideway transit, Sustainable infrastructure, Transit oriented development.
LEED-ND Certification: Platinum
Land area (in acres): 30
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency): 1.506
Retail area (in sq. ft.): 265000
Office area (in sq. ft.): 2100000
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 1800
Civic uses (type and size): 230,000 sf. historic armory, bike depot, metro station
Parks & green space (in acres):
Residential types: High-rise, Mid-rise/loft.
Project team designers: Design Collective, Inc., Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin, Urban Strategies Inc., Encore Arts
Project team developers: Maryland Department of Transportation, Ekistics, Linden Associates, Inc., McCormack Baron Salazar
Previous site status: Undeveloped infill
Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -