The American Institute of Architects, Baltimore Chapter Position on Proposed McKeldin Plaza Design

Baltimore, MD (July 7, 2015) – Last week, the Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel (UDARP) met to discuss the proposed McKeldin Plaza design by Mahan Rykiel, Ayers Saint Gross Architect + Planners, and Ziger Snead, with developer Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

The American Institute of Architects, Baltimore Chapter Board of Directors adopted the following position statement regarding the status of McKeldin Plaza, Baltimore. The position statement was originally drafted on December 2, 2014 and edited on June 5, 2015 following the design discussion hosted by Downtown Partnership on Tuesday, May 12, 2015:

  1. We believe that McKeldin Plaza needs to be an iconic space of the highest caliber with broad public participation, serving as a central, public gathering space for all the citizens of Baltimore.
  1. As McKeldin Plaza is owned by the Mayor and City Council on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore – our public realm should remain explicitly public space and should not be privatized in any fashion.
  1. The McKeldin Plaza design must be embedded in a comprehensive plan and integrated approach to site circulation with an emphasis on pedestrian access along Light and Pratt Streets which is based on best urban-design principles and not solely traffic-engineering. It is critical that the east-bound ‘slip-lanes’ be removed and the minimum number of lanes on Light Street be maintained to reinforce the goals of creating enhanced pedestrian access, and re-connecting the harbor physically and symbolically to the rest of downtown Baltimore.
  1. We propose that no demolition should take place before a new design has been publicly presented, vetted, approved by a review agency and fully funded. Baltimore has a long history of ‘temporary’ site clearings that have languished for decades – the Tower Building, Southern Hotel, News-American and McCormick sites to name just a few. The city forbids demolition of properties in the Central Business District before new plans are submitted – why would we hold a public space in the heart of the city to any lesser of a standard?

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