More than 50 years ago, City of Baltimore transformed its Inner Harbor into a world-class attraction that set the standard for urban waterfronts. Once again, Baltimore has the opportunity to make lasting, positive change with the transformation of the waterfront along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in South Baltimore. The moment has arrived to unite nearby neighborhoods by providing amenities along with a connected system of parks and trails, with a focus on restoring wetlands and creating opportunities for recreation. The Middle Branch Waterfront will be the newest crown jewel in Baltimore’s inventory of great public parks: one of the country’s next great waterfronts.
The local neighborhoods, businesses, public institutions and community groups that surround Middle Branch have been laying the groundwork for this ambitious undertaking for years through efforts to replace post-industrial landfills and brownfields with trails and parks.
To further to their efforts and launch a holistic movement to transform the shoreline, the City of Baltimore engaged the Parks & People Foundation to reach out to stakeholders in the area and help identify professional design teams with the appropriate talent and experience to re-envision the waterfront with active community input. Starting in 2018, Parks & People engaged hundreds of community members and stakeholders to identify goals, document priorities and launch a process that will bring this long-held dream to reality.
Based on feedback, Parks & People worked with Jones Kroloff Associates to curate an invited design competition for the project in Spring 2019. This process identified a list of qualified firms with a national and global scope of experience in their past work, with a focus on urban waterfronts. From this list, three firms were invited to develop design proposals for the Middle Branch, based on priorities gleaned from the community’s input.
The public received opportunities to interact with competition teams and comment on their proposals. This feedback was provided to jury of professional experts and local representatives who reviewed the teams’ proposals in detail and ranked the entries.
The jury’s recommendations were provided to the Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who endorsed the top ranking of West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. City agencies and their partners have been negotiating with West 8 and plan on launching the planning process in early summer 2020.
Who is leading this initiative?
Parks & People Foundation (Parks & People) managed community engagement and design team selection for City of Baltimore under a contract with the City of Baltimore and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. This structure helped to identify the best team to work with City of Baltimore on this exciting initiative. The project is supported by a dedicated working group, committees and a variety of active stakeholders, including a Steering Committee, comprised of property owners, community representatives, government leaders, elected officials and technical experts.
Where is the Middle Branch?
Why a design competition?
The Middle Branch Waterfront stretches for more than 11 miles, including a number of neighborhoods and a variety of land uses. The project will be complex and multi-faceted, requiring diverse expertise in many disciplines of design and planning led by a landscape architecture firm with a demonstrated track record of success working at this scale and with local talent.
How can I get involved?
Public input is critical to the success of this project. There will be opportunities to give input or become more deeply involved as the project progresses. Stay up-to-date by visiting this website, following the project on Facebook and by signing up to receive email updates.