Baltimore made the front page of the New York Times this past Memorial Day weekend, and once again, not for the best of news. Our city has been hacked and, on top of all our trials and tribulations, our municipality is now struggling to perform its daily tasks. It’s been a tough spring.
What hasn’t made national news are all the quiet, small, but not insignificant, successes we’ve had—especially in our AIA Baltimore community. My letter this month is a shout out to a few of these achievements. AIA Baltimore’s CivicLAB class of 2019 completed their training and I had the privilege to award each graduate with a certificate of accomplishment. CivicLAB introduces architects, designers, and allied professionals to opportunities for civic engagement across the full spectrum of their careers in order to expand their role in critical issues facing our communities and the profession, and to communicate and demonstrate how architecture makes a difference. If you know a good candidate for next year’s cohort, please make them aware of this exceptional training program.
The Spring Lecture Series concluded its season and now committee leaders Kelly Danz, AIA, and Randy Sovich, AIA, are focusing their efforts on the design competition and exhibit. The lectures served as inspiration for a local design competition that specified engagement where the land meets the water at Baltimore’s harbor. There has been an enormous response to this call for ideas to envision a swimmable and fishable future. Stay tuned for the exhibit sponsored by AIA Baltimore and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation this fall. Speaking of design ideas, don’t forget that the 2019 AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Awards is now accepting submission entries.
The Morgan State University School of Architecture and Planning graduated large classes, both in the Masters of Architecture and the Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Environmental Design degree programs. The grad students’ thesis exhibit in the Atrium of the CBEIS Building was impressive, both for the scope of the projects and the considered designs exhibited. Now our students are heading out to start their careers in Baltimore’s top firms, and many of our undergraduates are moving on to graduate school. Sumayyah Raji, the 2019 BAF and AIA Baltimore Fellows Leadership awardee, is off to Harvard’s GSD to earn her MArch degree. And Brian Helfer, Jr., this year’s AIA Baltimore International Research Scholarship recipient is departing for Brasilia next week to study Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture—stay tuned for his presentation this fall! These outstanding programs sponsored by the BAF and AIA Baltimore make a huge difference in the early careers of these architects-in-training.
The local community group, the Friends of the Roland Water Tower (established by yours truly in 2009), achieved an enormous milestone last week when JMT, the design team hired by the City, did their first walk around the Tower in the morning. After 10 years of advocacy, fund raising, and negotiations, it looks like the restoration project for the historic structure has finally begun. The view from the Tower’s belvedere extends to the Key Bridge and beyond. There are many Tower fans and we are thrilled. Kudos to “Team Tower” and the city agencies that kept working and made this meeting happen despite having no computers. With everyone’s perseverance, this architectural gem will be Baltimore’s to enjoy for generations to come.
AIA Baltimore held a visioning session, led by chapter treasurer, Laura Wheaton, AIA, to reveal, describe, and document ideas and desires for our new headquarters. Members shared candidly their considerations for the design and of the impact on the design community citywide. The chapter is navigating its way through a complex process by instigating this major project, raising the profile and the bar for Baltimore City’s design industry with the intent of providing a future of outreach and relevance to effect positive change and the greater good of our community.
Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2019, the results of this effort will culminate in the relocation of our home and the beginning of a new, reinvigorated chapter. Please let us know you thoughts and desires for the new chapter house if you haven’t already done so. We look forward to your input.
Suzanne Frasier, FAIA
Morgan State University School of Architecture + Planning