B-MORE | RESILIENT : Rowhouse Competition 2015

When the power goes out, a big storm hits, or civil unrest disrupts the pattern of life in the city, the existing fabric of that city is challenged. As our physical and social climate changes, the built environment, along with the people who reside within it, will continue to struggle. The sooner the urban fabric of Baltimore can adapt to these challenges, the more resilient our city can be.

This competition focuses on how to provide innovative design solutions to transform Baltimore City’s existing vacant housing stock to be more resilient. The COTE and Resiliency Committees of AIABaltimore have partnered with representatives from Baltimore City to develop a competition that can help provide real ideas to solve real problems.

Winning Projects

1519_Most-Resilient-DesignMOST RESILIENT DESIGN – BeMORE Flats

Team: Camessia Johnson, Duncan Walker, Ben Brisley, Fernando Puyana, Negar Tabibian, Craig Purcell, Matt Newburn, Emily Hahn | School: Virginia Tech

The Baltimore Rowhouse is a living artifact, showcasing frugality through the replication of standardized, vertical, and minimalistic dwellings. During the early 20th century, this was the “ideal” housing solution for the industrial workforce of Baltimore. Today, Baltimore’s plight of vacant urban housing places a charge on the city to move towards community focused redevelopment that supports healthy, productive, and socially sustainable neighborhoods.


1507_Most-Resilient-ConceptMOST RESILIENT CONCEPT – The bMORE Resiliency CO*OP Metrics

Team: Michael Hindle, Adam Ganser, Peter May, Katelin Posthuma, Carri Beer, Jack Sullivan | School: University of Maryland

A “Community Cooperative” has the potential to bring people together with a common goal of adapting to expected and unanticipated risks and vulnerabilities. By applying creative thinking to innovative building solutions and maintenance, renewable energy access and efficient use, and intelligent natural resource development, protection, and reuse, small communities throughout the city will establish high-performance environments that will make them resilient to the vagaries of climate change.


1502_Most-FeasibleMOST FEASIBLE DESIGN – Community Path

Team: Sadie Dempsey, Jack Carroll, Soo Lee, Adam Louie, Todd Connelly | School: University of Maryland

The Community Path proposal enhances the existing structure and provides interventions at the scale of the rowhouse and the block. The typical rowhouse structure is preserved, but the houses are renovated to improve environmental performance and reconfigured (if necessary) to provide more flexible and diverse living arrangements. The existing street grid and urban character of the block are emphasized, and certain buildings and open spaces are adapted in ways that address the environmental, economic, and social issues that must be solved to achieve resiliency.




Team: Aziz Barbar, ChengHe Guan, Dima Rachid | School: Harvard University Graduate School of Design

The proposal deploys the principles of decentralized infrastructure and ecological engineering in a design framework that is less typologically prescriptive and more adaptable to social and physical variations. In an attempt to plan in disassociation from the grid, the proposed decentralized infrastructure (street lighting, energy-generation, greywater treatment, storm water treatment, runoff treatment etc…) allows equal access of all residents and reduces post-crisis maintenance cost and processing time. The proposed strategies not only have infrastructural performances but simultaneously hold potential in being grounds for diverse public spatial experiences and animated communal spaces within each block.




Team: Stephanie Deutsch, Renata Southard, Alexander Dzurec | School: University of Maryland

DIRT is a 21st century infrastructure system for Baltimore. As opposed to the current paradigm of a centralized infrastructure system for utility and community services; DIRT is a distributed and interconnected infrastructure and technology system. It utilizes the concept of interconnected micro-grids to ensure resiliency in the event of catastrophe, but also to maintain stability in day to day usage of utilities and services. DIRT will enable community level micro-grids to “Island” themselves from the city grid; in order to maintain electricity, water, sewer and community services in the event of a catastrophe.




Team: Davin Hong, Ben Fann, Mark James, Kevin Day | School: Maryland Institute College of Art

Truly resilient solutions address social and economic realities in equal measure to the conservation of energy and environment. Any approach to revitalizing Baltimore’s neighborhoods must be holistic, recognizing the complex history of social distress and economic disinvestment that has shaped inner city neighborhoods. The high concentration of vacant, dilapidated houses in impoverished neighborhoods are merely symptomatic of greater societal failings. The restoration of these hardest hit areas of the city will depend on strategic interventions that support and strengthen the welfare of families. Yet the physical reconstruction of neighborhoods can also affect social outcomes by establishing a sense-of-place and a sense of ownership.




Team: Richard Thurmond, Lauren Thurmond, Dirk Geratz, Jens Geratz, Zarena Thomas, Linda Conrad, David Pindell | School: Salisbury University

The team’s sustainable approach is to maintain and celebrate the good qualities of a Baltimore rowhouse block. These include preserving the simple brick facades and beloved marble steps as well as the street grid pattern and rear alleys. The team visited the block and spoke to several neighbors who informed them of issues, concerns and hopes for their community. The team members felt it important that current residents are included in the revitalization process.


Competition Submissions

Social Cross Sections
Team: Mitchell Pinkney, Carla Kilian, Laura Stella, Gisele Kennedy, Farokh Hejazi | School: Morgan State University

B-MORE Prentiss Court
Team: Kimia Zolfagharian, Ross Smith, Kate Irwin, Charishma Hunjan, Kara Johnson, Mark Palmer | School: University of Maryland

Entry #1513
Team: Francis Ikhalea, Tom Liebel | School: Morgan State University

Entry #1523
Team: John Morrel, Alexandra Morrel, David Watts, Gareth Morgan, Utku Akbulut, Veronica Plischke, Christine Doherty, Anthony Gill | School: Washington University in St. Louis

Team: Phillip Jones, Megan Elcrat, Sabrina Amoroso | School: Maryland Institute College of Art

Making a Difference 4 Acres at a Time
Team: James Muirhead, Melanie Grace Baron | School: Virginia Tech

Resiliency Is Not a What, But a How
Team: William Rohde, John Bernet, Doug Boethner, Katie Zaeh, Jeremey Chinnis | School: Morgan State University

Competition Details

Baltimore City needs an innovative, new vision for how the module of the rowhouse can be used to protect and sustain a neighborhood as our environment continues to change around us.

While the competition designs offer a solution that can be repeated across Baltimore, it looked specifically at the Broadway East Neighborhood, at a site adjacent to the Amtrak rail line that bisects the city. This neighborhood is one of many “hot spots” that suffer from the heat island effect, but is particularly interesting because of its visibility from the rail line, its ratio of city owned vacant housing, and its potential to be a vibrant neighborhood.

Entries explore various aspects of resiliency and what that means to rowhouse design. Specifically, they explore how to help mitigate issues like heat island effect, stormwater management, and public safety.


Dean Sakamoto, FAIA, LEED AP

Mr. Sakamoto is a practicing architect and educator with a national presence and local expertise. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon, Master of Architecture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a Masters of Environmental Design from Yale University. His New Haven, Connecticut and Honolulu, Hawaiʻʻi-based firm, Dean Sakamoto Architects (DSA) is known for its environmentally sensitive and culturally specific designs of buildings and places.

Dr. Mary Anne Alabanza Akers

Dr. Mary Anne Alabanza Akers is an urban planner who has practiced in the United States and the Philippines for thirty five years while serving as an academic faculty at various universities, including the University of Goergia where she taught city planning and landscape architecture from 1991 to 2007. She is currently the Dean at the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University.

Meg Fairfax Fielding

Meg Fairfax Fielding is 12th generation Baltimorean on her mother’s side and first generation on her father’s. Except for an interval living in Wales (in a 12th century castle) she has lived in Baltimore most of her life. Her popular blog, Pigtown*Design, focuses on design, decoration, architecture and all things Baltimore. Meg is currently president of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

Julie Day

Julie Day is the Deputy Commissioner of Baltimore Housing for the Land Resources Division. She manages the staff responsible for acquisition, asset management, and disposition of city owned properties. She is a key member of the leadership team of Vacants to Value, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s blight elimination initiative. Julie joined Baltimore Housing over twenty years ago as a staff attorney and served as Director of the Code Enforcement Legal Section for several years prior to her current assignment. She is a native Baltimorean, a member of the Maryland bar, and a lifelong Orioles fan.

Kristin Baja

Kristin Baja is the Climate and Resilience Planner for the Baltimore City Department of Planning Office of Sustainability. She is responsible for prioritization and implementation of the City’s combined All Hazards Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan. Kristin also manages the City’s Community Rating System (CRS) application process and manages grants related to resilience, preparedness, and climate change.


External Resources

Baltimore Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3) – http://www.baltimoresustainability.org/disaster-preparedness-and-planning-project

A More Sustainabile and Resilient Baltimore – https://baltimorehazards.wordpress.com/disaster-preparedness/

Strategies and Actions of the DP3 Project – https://baltimorehazards.wordpress.com/disaster-preparedness/steps-baltimore-city-is-taking/

Transform Baltimore Zoning Code – http://www.rewritebaltimore.org/

Baltimore Sustainability Plan – http://www.baltimoresustainability.org/sites/baltimoresustainability.org/files/Baltimore%20Sustainability%20Plan%20FINAL.pdf

Resilient Design Institute – http://www.resilientdesign.org/

National Institute of Building Sciences Fact Sheets – http://www.nibs.org/?page=factsheets

ResilientCity.org – http://www.resilientcity.org/index.cfm?id=11929

City of Baltimore Green Pattern Book – http://www.baltimoresustainability.org/sites/baltimoresustainability.org/files/GGI%20Template%20View_FINAL_Compressed_.pdf

Baltimore Streetscape Design Guidelines – http://www.godowntownbaltimore.com/docs/streetscapeguidlelines.pdf

Creating Defensible Space – http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/def.pdf

Alternative Energy – http://www.altenergy.org/

Thank you to our 2015 Annual Sponsors for their support of AIABaltimore programs

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