Fall 2009 Studio Belvedere Square

Baltimore, MD

The studio’s theme of Building of Today in Historic Fabric focused on how architects will continue to design with respect to contemporary social, material, environmental, spatial and cultural issues yet, increasingly, will need to addresses these issues in existing, often historic, fabrics.

The site was the Belvedere Square neighborhood of Baltimore that began as a “street car” development in the early 20th century. The neighborhood’s housing stock is mostly single-family bungalows. The neighborhood’s center—which was the studio’s primary focus—is a four block commercial area with small-scale retail, offices, restaurants, a fuel station and pubs. Four significant buildings occupy the site: A late-20th century market, a mid-20th century Art Modern department store, a gothic-revival church and the historic Art Deco Senator movie theater.

The first six weeks of the semester students in which students documented, analyzed and synthesized the urban fabric of the Belvedere Square neighborhood. Essentially students sought to know what, why, when and where of the site’s history and included sociological, economic and demographic studies. The intention of these studies is to answer questions posed by experts, residents, business owners, architects, city officials and jurors about the site and what might needed on the site.

The semester culminated in proposed design interventions that would find new uses for the existing historic buildings but also re-energize the neighborhood. Students developed programs, building types and strategies such as a university buildings, public library, market, public parking, commercial buildings and housing.