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Old March 2nd, 2007, 09:52 PM   #1501
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An artist's concept shows a pedestrian-friendly boulevard with several fountains, landscaped walkways, solar-powered street lamps and a seamless link to the harbor.

Adam Gross imagines the gateway to downtown with all the grandeur of an Italian piazza: sparkling fountains, brilliantly designed restaurants and landscaped walkways that beckon visitors with a sense that the street itself is a destination.

Yesterday, Baltimore development officials endorsed that vision for the city's Pratt Street as they named Gross' firm, Baltimore-based Ayers Saint Gross, and Olin Partnership, of Philadelphia, the winners of a contest to redesign the main artery along Baltimore's Inner Harbor.





"We want to create a much more beautiful and stronger sense of the public realm along the length of Pratt Street," said Gross, design principal at Ayers Saint Gross, who with a 10-member team found inspiration in some of the world's classiest boulevards - New York's Fifth Avenue, the Champs-Elysees in Paris, and Chicago's Michigan Avenue.

"We wanted to create a great series of public spaces," he said, "a great public corridor for the activities of the city."

But how to make it a reality is still in the works. Officials would not specify cost estimates, other than to say a complete makeover of Pratt Street would require a public-private partnership and take many years.

The Baltimore Development Corp., Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and the city departments of planning and transportation began soliciting design ideas for Pratt Street last year. In December, they narrowed a field of 10 to four finalists and awarded each a $25,000 grant to pursue proposals for remaking the 16-block stretch from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard east to President Street.

Last week, the finalists unveiled their proposals publicly at the Baltimore Convention Center, suggesting such dramatic changes as building boathouses along the harbor and demolishing the Pratt Street Pavilion of Harborplace.

BDC President M.J. "Jay" Brodie called the winning selection "extremely thorough and creative."

While some elements of the proposal could happen right away, others - such as transforming both eastbound Pratt Street and westbound Lombard Street into two-way thoroughfares - would need more consideration, said Brodie.

"It doesn't mean that each of these suggestions will turn out to be possible," he said. "But hopefully, as many of the ideas as possible can be retained."

In conceptualizing the design, architects aimed for stylish, inviting and environmentally friendly. Among the highlights are an east-west trolley system between President Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, bicycle lanes and a two-story, free-standing glass pavilion in front of the Legg Mason building at Light Street to house a top-notch restaurant.

McKeldin Plaza, at Light and Pratt streets, would receive a high-tech overhaul, with a giant "video wall" that would project scenes celebrating Baltimore's diverse cultural events or even a sold-out Ravens game.

"It's sort of a Times Square idea that is done in a more elegant, sophisticated way," said Gross.

The architects' overarching goal was to help Pratt Street feel more unified through a seamless design of lighting, landscaping and an intrinsic connection of water and land.

"We want to reinforce the connection of Baltimore to the harbor," said Betsy Boykin, landscape architect with Ayers Saint Gross. "So that wherever you are along the length of the street, you understand the connection of Pratt Street, and Baltimore itself, with water."

Large fountains would mark the gateways of Pratt at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and President Street, while smaller ones would run along the blocks in between, the water from which would be used to irrigate the surrounding landscape, said Boykin. Other green elements include solar-powered street lamps.

The proposal is the culmination of several years of discussions among city officials who have long agreed that Pratt Street deserved a face-lift. Chief on their priority list was doing away with the grassy mounds, or berms, on the sidewalks, which they said disrupt its urban character.

Designed in the 1970s, the grassy knolls were intended to create a buffer between pedestrians and vehicle exhaust, but they only ended up confusing people, said Kirby Fowler, president of the nonprofit Downtown Partnership. In addition, Fowler said, some people feel unsafe walking along the street, with some berms as tall as 5 feet preventing pedestrians from seeing their surroundings clearly.

Fowler said removing the mounds would be among the first redesigns to take place. "You see people walking down and they look disoriented and kind of scared," said Gross. "We don't need that space. Let's put the trees closer to the street, make a nice wide sidewalk and take the facades, pull them out further and make room for some new retail."

Gross noted that cities nationwide admire the planning behind Baltimore's Harborplace and that architects want to capitalize on an already good thing. In addition, Gross said he hopes the design inspires areas well beyond Pratt Street.

"Lombard is like the back of a refrigerator right now," he said. "But it should become more like Pratt Street. ... This should happen not just for the core of the city, but these same kinds of competitions and debates should happen citywide - in areas both poor and affluent."

City leaders envision Pratt Street as the connection between east and west revitalization efforts.

"The redesign of Pratt Street is extremely important to the future of downtown," said Fowler. "It's our welcome mat, basically. And, if anything, it should have the best qualities of the city reflected on it."

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Old March 2nd, 2007, 09:53 PM   #1502
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BalWash View Post
I'd like to see it extend even further up first. Baltimore is looking more like Manhattan in the sense that it lacks peaks.
i would as well, but like CU_rak and getontrac said, i'll take a better looking building that's shorter (but not that much shorter.....lol) over an average building that soars anyday. as pissed as i am about 10IH, i'm getting the feeling that we're going to get a tower that we will truly learn to appreciate.
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 09:56 PM   #1503
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Originally Posted by 30 Floors Up View Post
The Arc Wheeler web site still says 715 Feet.
Heather told me to call John Voneiff.

I've got an inside "source" who is going to meet with him and talk to him about specifics on 10 IH, among other big projects. By next wednesday or thursday we should know a whole lot more accurate info.

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Old March 2nd, 2007, 10:34 PM   #1504
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Can't wait
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 10:36 PM   #1505
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yep, neither can i. it should be very interesting.
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 10:53 PM   #1506
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Hopefully we'll be pleasantly surprised.

Last edited by pennster; March 3rd, 2007 at 12:06 AM.
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 10:57 PM   #1507
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Because the guy Steven emailed told him it would be shorter. I really hope we get lucky and it stays the same height or gets taller. If it gets shorter it will barely be a new tallest.
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 11:43 PM   #1508
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Another Photo
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 11:47 PM   #1509
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Alright, I think it's about time we get a Legg Mason/Sheraton Building thread and a 10IH thread that are each stickied. The thread title should have the number of feet, floors and status (ie U/C) of each building. Check out the Chicago forum to see how they do it. I think this is where all discussion and photos of those projects belong.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:03 AM   #1510
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^Lets not get TOO OCD with this now! We're bad enough as it is!

Nate
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:14 AM   #1511
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
^Lets not get TOO OCD with this now! We're bad enough as it is!

Nate
See here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/forumdisplay.php?f=509

Each major project deserves its own thread dedicated to the discussion of that project. It's much better than having to sift through 70+ pages of general Baltimore Development news for those who are only interested in that one major project. This way we can keep all construction photos and news consolidated.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:15 AM   #1512
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I love your pictures Eerik. I would never have have moved! Is that the McCormick building being demolished (1st picture right corner)? Also, I completely forgot about the "Festival Hall" that was next to the original convention center. Look at the sea of parking around it. That Allied Signal site confused me many times while waiting for a visiting boat to arrive at Harborplace. Try as I would, I never could remember if the boat would come from the right or the left.
I really didn't want to leave either; work in DC necessitated the move. But in some ways, it was good to get out of there. For one, while the condos on the inside were ok, the exterior was not. I don't know if anyone remembers, but the brick pointing began to deteriorate and they discovered a small but potentially deadly design fault, where there existed a real risk of wind shearing off the facade. Contractors had to erect scaffolding around the building, and add nearly 20,000 metal ties to help better anchor the brick facade to the structure...

I'd post more pictures, but too many of them show my ala 1980s decor; it's pretty embarrassing. But the windows, although ugly to look at from the outside, provided a great view of the city. The best view was from my dining room: large floor to ceiling windows. Sitting there, having dinner and watching all the cars whiz by below. Throw in a few drinks, and one could easily become queasy when factoring in the height. And the view of the harbor wasn't bad either...

Yes, the photo includes the final McCormick site-sweep after demolition. If you look close enough at the photo with Festival Hall, one can still see the old Camden Station (pre-renovation and cupola) as well as the northern tip of the warehouse that was demolished for the pedestrian plaza. While they needed to destroy the warehouse office building to restore the station, as well as create a better flow for pedestrians, it was a shame to see it go. The building came down, but not without a fight.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:19 AM   #1513
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Seriously, though, do we NEED a giant TV screen? I'm from New York, and I can say in all honestly that the place I hate most in the city is Times Square (perhaps that is a peculiarity to me). I like the habor because it represents just the right mix of peace and bustle. I don't need a huge board with stock indices, promotional ads, and a news feed coming my way. It's also way out of proportion with the pavillions surrounding the harbor, which are supposed to be low-profile.

When I think of Baltimore, I think architectural detail and quirkiness. Not MTV meets Pratt St.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:33 AM   #1514
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getontrac View Post
^Lets not get TOO OCD with this now! We're bad enough as it is!

Nate
: That's too funny.

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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:37 AM   #1515
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I like it
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:38 AM   #1516
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Seriously, though, do we NEED a giant TV screen? I'm from New York, and I can say in all honestly that the place I hate most in the city is Times Square (perhaps that is a peculiarity to me). I like the habor because it represents just the right mix of peace and bustle. I don't need a huge board with stock indices, promotional ads, and a news feed coming my way. It's also way out of proportion with the pavillions surrounding the harbor, which are supposed to be low-profile.

When I think of Baltimore, I think architectural detail and quirkiness. Not MTV meets Pratt St.
I know! Let's see if we can get ARCWheeler to put the world's tallest video screen on the front side of the 10 IH tower! Over 600 feet high!
Now wouldn't that be a sight to see along the harbor!
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:44 AM   #1517
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I say lets just get ARCWheeler to build a tower of at least 715 feet.

I actually really like the big screen. I think they need to try and do something different with the Harbor. I'm not talking a makeover, but the area between Rusty Scupper and the Science Center is very dead, and there are other small points where things kinda die down as well.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:55 AM   #1518
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Good to hear about Loyola expanding their athletic facilities. I've always thought a lot of land up north in the city could be developed and used for some great developments, especially areas right along the JFK. Lots of empty land and easy access north and south of town.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 01:02 AM   #1519
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View from the 4 Seasons in Baltimore:
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 01:04 AM   #1520
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Harbor Point:


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