Tag: architecture

Pigtown Design: Baltimore Building Heritage? There’s an App for That



As you might have figured out by now, I am interested in the “built environment” meaning buildings of all sorts, whether they be historical mansions or small cozy sheds. And I am always interested to learn about buildings that I see every day as I zoom by in my car.

In cooperation with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation where I serve on the Board, and some other local preservation groups, Baltimore Heritage has just launched a smart phone app called Explore Baltimore Heritage.Dozens of historic buildings around the city are pinned on this application, with a history of the building, some historic photographs, and perhaps a short narration featuring the stentorian tones of historian, Charlie Duff.

Did Your High School Have Fashion Runways? Yeah, Didn’t Think So.


When it opens in fall 2013, the Baltimore Design School might be the coolest high school in a hundred-mile radius. Don’t believe me? Consider this:  it will have built-in fashion runways.

Pigtown Design: Preakness Saturday


“And They’re Off…” That was the cry late Saturday afternoon, sending off the Preakness horses, which was the pivotal event in the weekend for Baltimore. But let’s back up a bit.

My amazing friend, Flippa, is moving back to South Africa with her husband and daughter in a few weeks. (Stops. Wipes tears. Continues.) Friends of ours had a huge going-away party (GAP) for her in their amazing 1800’s town house, and by that, I mean the

Justin Martin, Author of “Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted”, in town


With a crammed spring schedule, I missed hearing author Justin Martin speak at the Enoch Pratt Free Library  Tuesday. He had been there to talk about his recent biography, Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Olmsted.  I had only met him when someone affiliated with Ladew Topiary Gardens asked me to give him a tour of Roland Park a few weeks ago. Then, I did most of the talking.

On Wednesday, I seized a free morning and accepted an invitation to join him downtown and hear more about his book. Over coffee I listened to him talk about the life and work of the pioneer of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. I’ve lived in an Olmsted community most of my life, but I knew little about the family’s personal life. Roland Park was designed not by Frederick Law Olmsted but by his son, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who, with his cousin, carried on his father’s work throughout the United States. As I listened about the father — a sailor turned farmer, journalist, Civil War medic and gold mine supervisor — I marveled at all this man brought to Central Park, his first (yes, FIRST) landscape project.

Baltimore By Foot


Have you heard of Baltimore Heritage? The 50-year old non-profit is Baltimore’s historical and architectural preservation organization. Its Spring Walking Tour series — this year featuring Charles Village, Bolton Hill, Roland Park, Ten Hills  and Curtis Bay — provides guided strolls that uncover the buildings, stories and places that weave the cultural fabric of Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods. Walking tours are $15 for members and $25 for non-members.

The 2012 tours start on April 21 and continue on every Saturday through May 19!

Read on for the details then register online today. Registrations will be confirmed by e-mail, including information on how to pay.

Spring 2012 Tours

LGBT Heritage: Charles Village – April 21, 10 a.m. to noon
Creating the Movement: Baltimore’s Early LGBT History in Charles Village

Over forty years ago, members of Baltimore’s gay and lesbian network launched a concerted effort to organize and build a more open community.  Many of these early leaders lived in Charles Village and the projects they spearheaded happened in this central Baltimore neighborhood.  Please join LGBT leaders Richard Oloizia and Richard Hughes, and a number of other luminaries in the LGBT community, on a tour through Charles Village to learn about the early organizing campaigns and the people behind them.

Meet in front of Normals Bookstore, 425 E. 31st  St.  Park on the street.

Bolton Square – April 28, 10:00 a.m. to noon
A New Historic Community in a Historic Neighborhood

In 1967, Bolton Square arose as an urban renewal project after a number of blocks in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood were cleared as “slums.”  With 36 light-filled and open houses designed by noted architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen clustered around a communal green space, the architect and developer strove to create a middle class community that would attract people back into the city.  Today Bolton Square celebrates its 45th anniversary and itself is officially designated as a Baltimore City historic district.  Join residents and Bolton Square history aficionados Jon Kaplan and Joel Pearson on a tour of this Modernist architectural gem.

Meet at the home of our tour guides, 1416 Mason St. Mason St. runs parallel to Eutaw St. and is between Eutaw and Bolton. The nearest cross street is Lafayette Avenue. Park on the street.

Baltimore’s Outdated Office Towers Are an Inner Harbor Problem


When people talk about Baltimore’s vacant real estate, they’re usually referring to the blocks of dilapidated rowhouses in some of the city’s hard-hit neighborhoods. But there’s another kind of structure that worries city planners:  the 1970s-era office tower.

“Several Downtown buildings do not meet today’s standards and are considered functionally obsolete for office use, even with substantial investment,” according to the Office Vacancy Task Force. Which is a big problem, since Baltimore’s tallest building — 100 Light Street, the former Legg Mason building — is one of those outdated models. “Stuck in between the perceived coolness of early 20th century facades and the newness of all-glass towers,” Mark Byrnes writes in the Atlantic Cities blog, “these buildings are having a hard time retaining existing tenants, let alone attracting new ones.”

Another worrisome structure is 2 Hopkins Plaza, built in 1970 and smack in the middle of the Inner Harbor. It’s currently 42 percent vacant, and that’s including PNC Bank, which is scheduled to move out this summer. Some developers hope that renovations and mixed-use use residential conversions will save the buildings. Or does something more drastic need to be done?

An Introduction to Baltimore’s Urban Cosmography


When you’re talking about the fourteenth century, cosmography is the science of mapping the universe — in other words, early attempts to describe both the known world and what lies outside it.  When much-revered writer/designer/futurist Buckminster Fuller used the term at the title for his final book, he was talking about the structures that underlay our politics, history, physics, economics, society, chemistry… and pretty much everything else. (He was a man of many interests.)

So, then, what might an introduction to Baltimore’s urban cosmography look like?  As presented by Jeremy Kargon, an architect and professor at Morgan State, it’ll probably involve a look at maps and charts — some of them very old — as a way to understand how Baltimore has come to be organized the way it is.  How did early Baltimoreans conceive of “urban planning”? How did political culture from a hundred years ago shape the streetscape we know today? To chart the contours of our world, we have to understand the historical norms and transformations; urban cosmology — a brand new concept, as far as our googlings show — might be the place to start.

Kargon speaks at Johns Hopkins’s Gilman Hall tonight (Wednesday, December 14) from 7 – 9 PM. The event is free and open to the public.

Jim Rouse’s Mid-Century Masterpiece Hits Market


One Overlook Lane comes in the form of a well-designed time capsule (even the address sounds swell). It is very mid-century, very California-modern, and seemingly unaltered by passing fancies. What a tragedy it would have been had this gem fallen victim to an ’80s mauve moment. Check the built-in lounge/fireplace areas:  see yourself in repose, reading Tropic of Cancer, while twirling a cocktail from the Lucite bar cart. Originally designed and built for James Rouse in 1961, the home is still owned by his first wife Elizabeth who is selling. Is some of the furniture original and could it be part of the deal? (I call the blue chair in the living room!) Located just off Lake Avenue in Baltimore County it is currently listed at $1,550,000. For that price the 2.75 acres, 5 bedrooms, tennis court and pool are included. Sure, a mind-blowingly expensive period-faithful renovation is needed, but this place inspires you to make jello molds while smoking and what could be better than that?