|One of the East Baltimore masterplans (2006) for the area north of Hopkins Hospital shows the huge ambition of this plan converting entire neighborhoods from the ground up (Sasaki Architects)|
Ironically, UM's sister bio tech project on the west side of downtown, the UM Bio Park which never linked itself to neighborhood improvement in an institutionalized manner, has no such image problems and is moving along at a brisk pace of development in spite of the recession.
Similarly, Coppin University's project which displaced a good number of residents for a simple university campus expansion has elicited no outcry. Possibly, because Coppin is an HBCU and itself disadvantaged compared to the elite Hopkins Institutions, possibly because Coppin has successfully partnered with local schools for years.
|several blocks of rowhouses have been leveled to allow expansion of the Coppin University Campus on North Avenue|
The most convincing activities are probably those of MICA, the art institute which has ten years ago to systematically tie its own growth plan to the development of its surrounding communities. Most importantly, MICA's president Fred Lazarus realized early on that MICA cannot stem this alone and has quietly created the Central Baltimore Collaborative and forged coalitions with UB and Hopkins. From it sprang the Central Baltimore Partnership and the Station North and Entertain District (SNAED). Station North has turned from a forgotten stretch north of the JFX Expressway to an increasingly vibrant community largely fueled by music, theater, art and entertainment venues of the "creative class" in previously vacant structures all over the district. The synergies between MICA and the driving forces of community revitalization are obvious and likely lasting; artists have long been tested as urban pioneers. It proves to be more difficult to create these same synergies between biotechnology and disenfranchised communities.
The article does not ask if "eds and meds" is possibly just another bubble that is bound to collapse one day. (see Richard Florida on the limits of eds and meds). It does not ask how sustainable these massive campus expansions can be that almost all schools of higher education are engaging in and how the schools can possibly maintain funding to operate all those new facilities and maintain excellent education at the same time.
Still, it is highly welcome that the "anchor institutions" are leaving their ivory towers and recognize that their fate is tightly intertwined with that of the community in which they try to thrive. And the SUN should be commended for reporting all the good things that are the result of this insight.
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
The author's direct connections to this story:
- Consultant to EBDI for masterplanning together with Sasaki Architects (Boston/Watertown)
- Consultant for Poppleton Empowerment Plan in 2000, a plan that suggested strategic collaboration between the community and the University of Maryland
- President of the Board of D center, a design oriented non profit located in Station North
- Advisory member of the Project Area Committee for the Westside, an area that is supposed to receive widespread benefits from collaboration between the Mayor and the University of Maryland at Baltimore President
- Brought former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and David Dixon, FAIA as speakers to Baltimore in 2011. Both spoke extensively about the opportunities coming from Eds and Meds.
Photos: ArchPlan Inc, Sasaki Architects. copyright
Related Community Architect blogs:
Can Arts Districts Save a City?
A Proton Center for Baltimore (about the UM BioPark)
Baltimore Design School (about the Station North Arts and Entertainment District)
updated: 1/13/13 21:28h