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Miller’s Court in Baltimore is the rehabilitation of an abandoned manufacturing building into a safe, welcoming community for teachers and educational nonprofits. The project was conceived as a way to improve teacher retention rates and therefore the quality of education while strengthening the neighborhood and local economy. Seawall Development Company and Marks, Thomas Architects pursued a collaborative, interactive design approach that included focus group meetings with teachers and local residents. The resulting LEED Gold certified complex includes 40 rental apartments offered at discounted rates for teachers and 30,000 square feet of office space and shared meeting rooms with contemporary, loft-like interiors. A teacher resource center provides copiers for printing class materials and includes a lending library. Charmington’s, a cooperatively owned independent café in the building, is a popular gathering spot for teachers, tenants, and the community.
Interaction is a key component of life and work in the $21.1 million development. The presence of Teach for America and other education, youth, and community service nonprofit tenants creates ongoing opportunities for information sharing, collaboration, and networking. Monthly brown bag lunches featuring guest speakers help promote connections among the nonprofits and with the broader community. The complex’s central, landscaped courtyard offers outdoor space for informal gatherings and community events.
The award-winning project has generated additional investment in the community of Remington as well as interest from other cities. More than a building, Miller’s Court builds economic value and social capital by connecting teachers and nonprofits, improving the surrounding neighborhood by encouraging investment and development, illustrates the value of collaborative partnerships, and demonstrates that a for-profit business can have a significant social impact.
It is highly likely that in the history of the Charter Awards, this is the first barn to receive the honor. But, as the jury noted, the Charter recognizes that urbanism happens at all scales, and the transect stretches from urban to rural.
St. Louis, Missouri
Five blocks away from the main campus, on a brownfield site along a bustling commercial strip, The Lofts of Washington University create an environmentally sound student-housing center integrated flawlessly into the fabric of St. Louis.
In Karlstad, Sweden, a large block overlooking the main square was gutted by a fire. Redevelopment in this historic town center required cultural sensitivity and innovative thinking.