Posts tagged with "Baltimore":

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A Divine Monument is in the works for Baltimore

Philadelphia has its Rocky statue. New York City has Ralph Kramden. Minneapolis has Mary Richards. Now an artist group in Baltimore is planning to erect a monument honoring one of that city’s best known performers, the actor known as Divine. And they have just the location for it—the corner where the Baltimore born actor filmed the daringly disgusting final scene in John Waters’ 1972 movie, Pink Flamingos. Yes, that scene where Divine, a 300-pound transvestite playing “The Filthiest Person Alive,” eats fresh dog droppings off a Baltimore sidewalk. After months of planning, the artists went a long way toward realizing their goal earlier this year when they launched a website showing a proposed design for their project and began a crowdfunding campaign to raise the estimated $70,000 needed to make it a reality. “We think Divine would like it,” said Michal Makarovich, one of eight people who have been planning the memorial. “Baltimore will have a monument like no other in the world. “We could have had a statue, but it wouldn’t have been as noteworthy, to make people want to come and see it and feel like they’ve done something adventuresome. ‘Have you seen the Divine monument?’ As John Waters once said, Come to Baltimore and be shocked!” The Divine devotees went public with their project last year during a presentation to Baltimore’s Public Art Commission. At the time, they said they wanted to create a monument to pay tribute to filmmaker John Waters and the late Harris Glenn Milstead, also known as Divine, who gained fame starring in Waters’ films. And they wanted to put the monument at the site of one of Divine’s best known scenes, the intersection of Read and Tyson streets in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon historic district. That’s where Divine filmed the sequence that brought him and Waters international recognition—the closing scene in Pink Flamingos, where a triumphant Divine, having vanquished his rivals for the title of “Filthiest Person Alive,” gets down on the sidewalk, and eats dog poop. The monument planners said many John Waters fans come to Baltimore and want to know where the scene was filmed. Part of the monument’s purpose, they said, is to show the location so people can see for themselves. They also wanted a monument that will pay tribute to the actor, who died in 1988. The commissioners listened intently before rendering a verdict. “I am appalled,” said arts panel member Elissa Blount-Moorhead, “that it hasn’t happened before.” But how to convey all that? Especially at a time when Baltimore was reeling from riots following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and debating what to do with its Confederate monuments? Besides Makarovich, the planning group includes Alexander Fox, Michael Pugh, Parisa Saranj, James Stevenson, filmmaker Steve Yeager (a friend of Waters whose work includes the film Divine Trash), and artists David Hess and Sebastian Martorana. Hess and Martorana, the artists for the monument, are two of Maryland’s most gifted sculptors. Hess has created a number of large scale sculptures for the American Visionary Art Museum, the Inner Harbor, and other prominent sites. Martorana is known for recreating everyday and even mundane objects such as bath towels out of marble and was featured last year in Walters Art Museum exhibit. In discussing their concept with the arts panel last year, the group didn’t show a design. Members just said they wanted to create a sort of “shrine” that would fit in with the historic buildings of Mount Vernon yet reflect some of the counter culture spirit of Read Street, once Baltimore’s answer to San Francisco’s Haight Asbury district. Waters, who turns 70 this month, knows about the project but is not part of the group planning it. He said last fall, before the design was unveiled, that he is busy with other projects and wouldn’t be able to lobby for it, but he doesn’t object to the concept. The design unveiled this year starts with a marble archway, three feet wide and eight feet high, reminiscent of those found on entrances to any number of Baltimore’s grand Victorian town houses but in this case attached to the side of a building at Read and Tyson. (The building is owned by Pugh, one of the planners, who bought it without knowing of its Divine connection.) At the top of the arch is a single word, “DIVINE.” Inside the arch is a black and white image of Divine’s face on black granite, looking fierce. It’s blown up from a photograph taken when Divine was in his early 30s, the age when he filmed Pink Flamingos. If the arch is a doorway into Divine’s world, the artists have also provided a place to stop and contemplate that world. It comes in the form of two white marble steps, similar to those found in row house neighborhoods all over Baltimore. The steps are just below the arch and lead up to it. Martorana has used recycled marble steps in his work before. These steps double as a platform to display a small bronze sculpture by Hess representing what Divine ate on his way to international cult status. Visitors may have to look twice before they realize what it is—and that it isn’t real. Below Divine’s visage is a quote from John Waters about the day they shot the dog-doo scene: “It was a magic day in our happy young lives.” Engraved below Waters’ quote, in smaller letters, is a sentence that explains the reason for the monument’s location: “Divine was directed here by John Waters for the last scene of Pink Flamingos in 1971.”  The result is a work of art that is both specific and vague to the point of being mystical. The overall piece is general and accessible, aimed for the crowd that just wants to take a selfie with it and doesn’t care so much about the fine print. The engraving and other details will provide more specifics for hardcore fans who make a trek to the site and want to be rewarded with some information that makes them an authority on the subject, so they can prove they were there. The steps also double as a place where people could sit or kneel or otherwise linger and pay tribute, Makarovich said. “When people get there, there should be something for them to see and take pictures of,” he said. “That was the impulse.” The planners debated whether to include the dog excrement sculpture at all, but they eventually decided it needed to be part of the composition. “If we did it without the doggy-doo, it wouldn’t have any controversy. That, and the fact that it’s located where the scene was filmed, adds even more interest to make you want to go see it,” Makarovich said. In February, the design received unanimous approval from the city’s Public Art Commission. The group also has the blessing of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who said through a spokesman that she thinks ”the idea sounds divine.”
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Flux Factory revives a “threat to the motoring public” with the first Fung Wah Biennial

Remember the Fung Wah Bus? Posing an "imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk for its own drivers, passengers and for the motoring public," the Chinatown bus provided fast, dirt cheap service between New York and Boston before the company shuttered in 2015. Now, thanks to New York–based arts nonprofit Flux Factory, eager riders can re-live the experience: For three Saturdays in March, the arts group is commissioning 24 artists for the first Fung Wah Biennial. The daylong, site-specific exhibitions will take place on trips from New York to Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia, three of the most popular Chinatown bus routes. (Although Fung Wah ran buses on one route only, Flux uses "Fung Wah" as metonymy for the network of buses that ferries passengers from Chinatown to Chinatown in the northeastern U.S.) On the ride, artists will share sound installations, video projections, performances, and other pieces that "tease out the nuanced politics of transit." Commissioned pieces explore the loneliness, isolation, and fun of travel; travel and migration; and the history and infrastructure of Chinatown buses. Tickets, priced from $36.87 to $47.12, are a far reach from Fung Wah's $10 fares, but there's art! Most passengers will be ticketed Biennial-goers, although those just trying to get from point A to B are in for a real surprise. The idea for the biennial, curated By Sally Szwed, Matthias Borello, and Will Owen, arose from conversations around the high cost of living and studio space is forcing artists out to other cities; travel for leisure, work, or necessity; and a comment on the network of privately operated, affordable transportation between Chinatowns. Below are participating artists and their designated routes:

BOSTON: Marco Castro, Eric Doeringer, Fan Letters (Alex Nathanson + Dylan Neely), Sunita Prasad, Joshua Caleb Wiebley, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Kristoffer Ørum, Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

PHILADELPHIA: Michael Barraco, Chloë Bass, Adam Milner, Marjan Verstappen + Jessica Valentin, Meg Wiessner, Joshua Caleb Wiebley, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Kristoffer Ørum Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

BALTIMORE: Dillon De Give, Ursula Nistrup, Kristoffer Ørum, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Fan Letters ( Alex Nathanson + Dylan Neely), Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Kristoffer Ørum, Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

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Japanese government to fund a maglev train line between DC and Baltimore

You can do a lot in fifteen minutes: cook some surf-and-turf, blast through paperwork, star in a mediocre crime drama, or travel 40 miles between major East Coast cities. Well, not yet. Given the excruciatingly slow pace of infrastructure modernization in the U.S., there will be a wait on that last one, probably for decades. Yet, the U.S. is taking small steps towards twenty-first century transportation. Last week, the U.S. Transportation Department granted $27.8 million in Federal Railroad Administration funds to the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to conduct feasibility studies for a maglev train line that will run between DC and Baltimore.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoffwhalan/16578045553/in/photolist-6ZNtXq-bkjuSb-byeyp6-qdzcUH-u8F6rc-9DN21-byeq9i-bkjwuj-7sUSTT-4TEqye-qZoBxP-78WXSR-7ya8wK-rfWPnB-7sYQD7-7sYQLS-ziKfWR-6pTxyU-4SpKK-21THR5-4jpRM-Ab3VT-aans1n-aansdz As the above video illustrates, Maglev trains move very, very fast, reaching speeds up to 375 miles per hour. If built, the DC-Baltimore maglev train would be a 40 mile demonstration project to determine how to best bring maglev trains to the United States. Overall, the track will cost an estimated $10 billion to build. Japanese transportation companies and the Japanese government are keen on spreading their products and expertise to the United States, a potentially lucrative market. This spring, Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn rode on the Yamanashi Maglev Test Track. The Japanese government has committed $5 billion to the project, and the train operator, the Central Japan Railway Company, will not levy licensing fees for the technology. Stateside, The Northeast Maglev, a private investment group, will also contribute to the project. For those who can't delay gratification, ferroequinologists the world over love to share their love for ultrafast trains.  
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The 2015 winners of the Rudy Bruner Awards serve up a healthy dose of urban excellence

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence has announced its 2015 gold and silver medalists. For the past 27 years, the biennial competition has honored “transformative places distinguished by physical design and contributions to the economic, environmental and social vitality of America’s cities.” This year’s gold medal—and $50,000—goes to Baltimore’s “Miller Court,” an abandoned industrial facility that was transformed into a mixed-use building with housing, and a focus on fostering teachers and education-focused non-profits. The transformation was spearheaded by the Seawall Development Company, Enterprise Community Investment, and Marks, Thomas Architects. The project was completed in 2009. “Aware of the challenges facing the Baltimore school system and professionals entering the field through programs like Teach for America, Seawall sought to build a safe, welcoming community for teachers and a home for allied nonprofits that would strengthen the neighborhood and city,” the Bruner Foundation said in a press release. “Attracting national attention as a model, the project has generated additional investment in Remington and has been replicated in Philadelphia.” Below are the four silver medalists, each of which received $10,000. Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville, South Carolina
From the Bruner Foundation: "The renaissance of a 26-acre river corridor running through the heart of Greenville, restoring public access to the falls and greenspace and catalyzing adjacent downtown development. (Submitted by the City of Greenville)"
Grand Rapids Downtown Market Grand Rapids, Michigan
From the Bruner Foundation: "A new downtown public space promoting local food producers and community events, entrepreneurship, and education about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. (Submitted by Grand Rapids Downtown Market)"
Quixote Village Olympia, Washington
From the Bruner Foundation: "A two-acre community of 30 tiny houses and a common building that provides permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless adults. (Submitted by Panza)"
Uptown District Cleveland, Ohio
From the Bruner Foundation: "The redevelopment of a corridor linking art, educational and health care institutions with surrounding neighborhoods, creating outdoor gathering spaces, retail shops and restaurants, student and market-rate housing, and public transit connections. (Submitted by Case Western Reserve University)"
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Beneath this 200 year old monument to George Washington, a time capsule filled with 3D printed scans will send messages to the future

What do you put in a 21st century time capsule inside the cornerstone of a 19th century landmark that’s undergoing restoration? If the landmark is the nation’s first monument to George Washington, you put in a 3D printed likeness of the first president, hot off the 3D printer, of course. That’s the idea behind the four shiny objects that will be sealed within an 1815-era cornerstone and placed below the base of the Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland, home of the aforementioned first monument to Washington. The city-owned monument, designed by Robert Mills as a centerpiece for Mount Vernon Place, is undergoing a $5.5 million restoration that’s nearing completion. Planners say this is one of the first instances, to their knowledge, of 3D-printed objects being placed in the cornerstone of a restored monument for future generations to discover—and the objects actually mirror elements of the monument itself. “It’s a twist on history,” said Lance Humphries, an architectural historian who serves as chairman of the monument restoration committee of the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, a nonprofit group that’s working with the city to restore Baltimore’s Washington Monument and improve the public squares around it. “We like the idea of using this 3D technology as a way of leaving a record for the future… It’s incredible technology.” The restoration work will be complete and the monument will reopen to the public on July 4, 2015, exactly 200 years after the cornerstone was laid to signal the start of construction. It has been closed for repairs since 2010. The four objects, displayed publicly for the first time during a media event Sunday, April 12, include a mini bust of Washington, a mini statue, a mask-like reproduction of the face on Washington’s statue, and a life sized replica of one of his hands, holding a scroll. All four objects were made with 3D scanning and printing technology by Maryland based companies whose principals specialize in the process and wanted to apply it to historic preservation. Noting that time capsules and cornerstones often contain newspapers from the day they were sealed, Humphries said 3D printing is essentially a 21st century way to impart information that was previously conveyed in print form. He said the conservancy’s goal, in placing miniature replicas depicting pieces of the statue inside the cornerstone, was to leave behind information that could tell future preservationists about the statue’s condition after 200 years. “These 3D images will show the future the condition of the statue in 2015,” he explained. “We don’t know when they will be found, but when they are, they will help future generations understand how the statue appeared during the monument’s bicentennial year.” Unlike Robert Mills’ Washington Monument in the nation’s Capitol, which is a marble clad obelisk, Baltimore’s 178-foot-tall monument is a classical Doric column atop a stone base, with a larger-than-life statue of Washington at the top. The standing figure, by Italian sculptor Enrico Causici, depicts Washington resigning his commission as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1783. For years, visitors could climb to the top of the Baltimore monument and enjoy unobstructed views in all directions. But the monument was closed to the public after Humphries, from an outdoor café a block away, noticed imperfections in the stonework near the top of the monument and reported what he saw to city officials. That triggered a chain of events that led to the current repair effort. During the restoration, workers discovered the 1815 cornerstone, with contents from that year, and a second time capsule from 1915. The 1915 time capsule has not been opened but will be soon. The 1815 cornerstone was opened in February. Its contents included newspapers from 1815, glass jars, coins, and a likeness of Washington. As part of activities leading up to the 200th anniversary of the cornerstone laying in July, conservancy members wanted to re-bury the 1815 cornerstone, again with objects that might send a message to future generations. Museum conservators recommended that they not re-bury the fragile artifacts from 1815, to ensure their preservation. That’s when Humphries came up with the idea of turning the 1815 cornerstone into a time capsule containing miniature versions of parts of the Washington statue, made with 3D printing technology. Humphries said he thought it would make sense to include another likeness of Washington, since the cornerstone originally had one, and he thought it would be reflective of the changing times to have the 2015 likeness made with 3D printing. In the early 1800s, he said, “printing was about reading. Now it’s about making something in three dimensions, which is a big change over 200 years.” Humphries said he doesn’t know if any other time capsules or cornerstones have been sealed containing 3D-printed objects, but he isn’t aware of any and hopes this is one of the first cases. He said he thought it would be a good way to give people in the future an idea of the technology available to Americans in 2015. “I’m sure in 3015, they are going to say, ‘That was a really primitive thing they used,’ but that is what we use today. “ While scaffolding was still up around the monument, Washington’s statue was documented with 3D scanning technology by Direct Dimensions of Owings Mills, Maryland. A digital scan was taken to create a record of the statue’s condition in 2015. The same scan was used to print the miniature 3D images of the statue that are going in the cornerstone. The four objects were printed in nylon by NextLine Manufacturing of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Then, to ensure that they would last, the 3D models were electroplated for durability, first in copper and then in nickel, by a Halethorpe company called RePliForm. Although the coatings give the objects a metallic appearance, the figures are relatively light, as if they were made with plastic. Michael Raphael, the founder and chief executive officer of Direct Dimensions, said Baltimore’s collection of objects may be the first of its kind, “a set of miniature replicas of an historical monument enshrined back into the cornerstone for future generations to see.” Raphael said 3D scanning can be a valuable tool in preserving statues and other works of art that are kept outdoors. “We strongly believe that cultural artifacts, especially those exposed to the elements... are among the most important treasures requiring 3-D digital documentation,” he said. “Three dimensional scanning provides a fast, accurate means for permanent documentation and future restoration of cultural artifacts under constant risk of destruction by weather, pollution, or other disasters.” One of the four objects, the hand, is hollow in the middle and will contain a handwritten letter, like a message in a bottle. The letter, written in English, will describe the restoration project and the statue’s condition at the 200-year mark. Whoever finds the four objects, Humphries said, will be able to compare the condition of the statue in 2015 and the condition whenever they next open the cornerstone, showing how much the statue has eroded or otherwise changed over time. In that sense, he said, the 3D images will provide useful information to conservationists of the future. This week, the 1815 cornerstone is scheduled to be placed back in its original underground position with the new objects inside, so work can continue on the restoration. Humphries said the cornerstone might be reopened in 100 years or 1,000 years. “It’s just when the next guy finds it and wants to dig it up again. It was a lot of work.” Humphries added that conservators advised his group not to include newspapers this time because most newspapers printed today are “so acidic” that they might damage other objects stored with them. The monument will reopen during a daylong “Monumental Bicentennial Celebration” that will include a Naturalization Ceremony, a formal ribbon cutting, and a “family friendly” fair. Admission is free. As exhibited Sunday, the mini-statue of Washington is reminiscent of similarly sized replicas of the Statue of Liberty that are sold to tourists in New York City. Conservancy representatives say their organization may eventually fabricate and sell copies of the cornerstone objects as souvenirs, to raise funds for additional phases of restoration work around Mount Vernon Place.
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One of these five projects will be named winner of the 2015 Rudy Bruner Awards in urban design

The Rudy Bruner Awards for Urban Excellence have announced the five finalists for 2015. Founded in 1987, the accolade recognizes urban design, architecture and urban planning projects which address economic and social concerns within their environment. Sponsoring the award is the Bruner Foundation, founded by Massachusetts architect Simeon Bruner who named the award after his late father, Rudy Bruner. Aiming to emphasize the role of architecture in the urban environment, the award identifies and honors places rather than people to advance discourse about how to improve cities. First to receive the award was Pike Place Market in Seattle. Seventy-three places in 25 states have been awarded since. The finalists for the 2015 Rudy Bruner Awards for Urban Excellence are as follows: Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville, SC The renaissance of a 26-acre river corridor running through the heart of Greenville, restoring public access to the falls and green space and catalyzing adjacent downtown development. (Submitted by the City of Greenville.) Grand Rapids Downtown Market Grand Rapids, MI A new downtown public space promoting local food producers and community events, entrepreneurship, and education about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. (Submitted by Grand Rapids Downtown Market.) Miller’s Court Baltimore, MD The redevelopment of a vacant manufacturing building into an affordable and supportive living and working environment for public school teachers and education-focused nonprofits. (Submitted by Enterprise Community Investment.) Quixote Village Olympia, WA A two-acre community of 30 tiny houses and a common building that provides permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless adults. (Submitted by Panza.) Uptown District Cleveland, OH The vibrant redevelopment of a corridor linking art, educational and healthcare institutions with surrounding neighborhoods, creating lively outdoor gathering spaces, retail shops, and restaurants, student and market-rate housing, and public transit connections. (Submitted by Case Western Reserve University.) The finalists and ensuing Gold and Silver Medalists are selected by a nationwide committee of urban experts, including a mayor. The 2015 selection committee includes:
  • Rebecca Flora, Sustainable Communities Practice Leader, Ecology & Environment, Chestertown, MD
  • Larry Kearns, Principal, Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago, IL
  • India Pierce Lee, Program Director, Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland, OH
  • Mia Lehrer, President, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Los Angeles, CA
  • James Stockard, Lecturer in Housing, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA
  • Mark Stodola, Mayor, Little Rock, AR
Next month, Brunder Foundation staff will conduct site visits to each finalist project in preparation for the committee’s selection of the medal winners in June. Staff will spend 2–3 days touring the site, taking photos and interviewing those who are involved in the project. The medalists will receive cash awards to support their projects: one Gold Medal recipient—$50,000, four Silver Medal recipients—$10,000 each. Past winners include Inner-City Arts in Los Angeles, a building complex located in Skid Row designed as a center for teaching inner city children art through afterschool and weekend arts programs. “The Rudy Bruner Award offers the opportunity to showcase innovative placemaking responses to the needs of American cities and communities,” said Simeon Bruner, founder of the award. “We want to advance discourse about making cities better, and seek outstanding examples to share with those who care about improving our urban environments. There are a surprising number of inventive projects out there, if you just look for them.”
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Another Brutalist Wonder Bites the Dust: Johansen’s Mechanic Theatre

Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore (photo: Edward Gunts) Despite pleas for preservation from some of the nation’s top architects, demolition work has begun on  a nationally significant example of “Brutalist” architecture in north America, the 1967 Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, designed by the late John M. Johansen. A  yellow backhoe with a spike-like attachment began chipping into the theater’s concrete exterior earlier this month, ending any chance that the building could be saved. One local preservationist was able to salvage the original letters from the  building, but nothing else. Mechanics Theatre in Baltimore (Edward Gunts) The Mechanic is one of two major Brutalist works by Johansen targeted  for demolition in recent years, along with the 1970 Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Owners of the Baltimore theater, a development group headed by David S. Brown Enterprises, plan to replace it with a high rise containing 476 residences and street level commercial space. Shalom Baranes Associates of Washington is the architect. Named for local businessman Morris Mechanic, who built it, the 1,600 seat  theater at 1 N. Charles Street was designed to be the sculptural centerpiece of Charles Center, a 33-acre renewal project in downtown Baltimore. When it opened, the theater was hailed as a symbol of the city’s rejuvenation. The building was considered a prime example of  the architectural movement known as “Brutalism” or “New Brutalism,”  because it involved creating an unadorned, free form building with raw concrete -- “breton brut” in French.  Johansen, a pioneer in the movement, described the theater as “functional expressionalism,” because the exterior was designed to express what was going on inside The building received numerous awards and accolades in architectural circles, but it also sparked controversy.  One theater critic, unimpressed with the exposed concrete interior, lamented that going to the Mechanic was like watching performances inside a storm drain. A public official likened its shape to that of a poached egg on toast.  In 2009, it was ranked  Number One on a British publication’s list of the “World’s Top Ten Ugliest Buildings.” Johansen defended it to the end. “The Mechanic Theatre is one of my favorites,” he said in 2007. “It’s right up there at the top of the list. It’s a dear, dear building. It’s not brutalistic, as some say. It’s like a flower, opening its petals. It has drawing power.” Mechanics Theatre in Baltimore (photo: Edward Gunts) The theater closed in 2004,  after a larger performing arts center opened in the restored 1914 Hippodrome Theater several blocks away, with more seats and backstage facilities designed to accommodate  touring Broadway style shows. The Mechanic was dormant for years, and eventually was acquired by Brown and owners of a parking garage underneath. They initially asked Baranes to prepare a design that retained most of the theater’s shell  as part of a larger development, but opposed efforts to have the theater designated a city landmark -- a warning signal to preservationists. Before he died in 2012 at age 96, Johansen, the last of the “Harvard Five,”  pleaded with Baltimore officials to designate the theater a landmark and not issue a demolition permit. To support his case, he submitted a hand-drawn design showing how the theater could be incorporated into a larger mixed use center. More than a dozen well known architects wrote letters to the city supporting landmark designation,  including Hugh Hardy, Richard Rogers, Richard Meier, Kevin Roche, and James Stewart Polshek, who urged public officials to save the building from “the wrecking ball of greed.” Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation added the Mechanic to a “special list” that offered temporary protection from demolition. But two other civic bodies in Baltimore, the Planning Commission and City Council,  never agreed to add it to the city’s permanent landmark list, which would have given it more protection.  Saying they could find no tenants for the repurposed theater after years of looking, the developers abandoned their initial plans, asked Baranes to design  a mixed use development without the theater on the site, and applied for a demolition permit. They waited out the six month protection period afforded by the preservation panel’s emergency listing and received their demolition permit earlier this year.
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Solar-Powered Water Wheel Contraption Cleans up Baltimore Harbor

The Water Wheel Powered Trash Inceptor, an apparatus first introduced to the city of Baltimore back in 2008, has been reinstated in Baltimore Harbor with a sleek new design. The floating machine is a sort of vacuum cleaner for the harbor, scooping up trash floating through the water. This new iteration is projected to collect an estimated 50,000 pounds of trash every day. The wheel is powered chiefly by the water's current but switches to solar power when the water flow is not powerful enough to turn the wheel. Clearwater Mills, the company responsible for designing the trash collector, has stated the wheel is built to withstand the weight of large, heavy debris frequently found in the harbor. "The wheel is just the engine, and the fuel is the river current or solar power charging batteries and pumping water," said Daniel Chase, a wheel operator for Clearwater Mills, in an interview with CBS Baltimore. The production of the water wheel has implications for new directions that the city of Baltimore is turning to: namely a cleaner, sustainable metropolis. This notion is reinforced by the construction of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, an energy efficient, self-sustaining building which received an LEED certified platinum rating earlier this year. To combat littering and pollution further,  the Baltimore Office of Sustainability is currently collaborating with Blue Water Baltimore and Clearwater Mills to produce larger and better wheels to place in Jones Falls and other locations. The partially solar powered machine was initially built in Jones Falls, but due to its inadequate size was relocated to Harris Creek in 2011. The wheel was removed a second time from Harris Creek in August of 2011 but is now a permanent installment in the Baltimore Harbor.  
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AIA’s Committee On The Environment Announces 2014’s Top 10 Green Buildings

The AIA's Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.” Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA's National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners. Arizona State University Student Health Services (Pictured at top) Tempe, Arizona Lake|Flato Architects + Orcutt|Winslow According to the AIA: “The Arizona State University (ASU) Health Services Building is an adaptive reuse project that transformed the existing sterile and inefficient clinic into a clearly organized, efficient, and welcoming facility. The design imbues the new facility with a sense of health and wellness that leverages Tempe’s natural environment and contributes to a more cohesive pedestrian oriented campus. The building’s energy performance is 49% below ASHRAE 90.1-2007, exceeding the current target of the 2030 Challenge. The facility achieved LEED Platinum certification and is one of the best energy performers on campus as evidenced by ASU’s Campus Metabolism interactive web-tool tracking real-time resource use.” Bud Clark Commons Portland, Oregon Holst Architecture According to the AIA: “As a centerpiece of Portland’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, this LEED Platinum project provides a continuum of services to help transition homeless individuals toward stable, permanent living arrangements. The architecture helps achieve this goal with a walk-in day center with public courtyard and access to support services; a 90-bed temporary shelter; and a separate and secure entrance to 130 efficient, furnished studio apartments for homeless individuals seeking permanent housing. The building’s design aims to deinstitutionalize services and housing for the most vulnerable in our population. Sustainable features include large-scale graywater recycling, zero stormwater runoff, solar hot water, and a high-performance envelope, resulting in energy savings estimated at $60,000 annually.” Bushwick Inlet Park Brooklyn, New York Kiss + Cathcart, Architects According to the AIA: “This project is the first phase of the transformation of the Greenpoint–Williamsburg waterfront from a decaying industrial strip to a multifaceted public park. The design team integrated a program of playfields, public meeting rooms, classrooms, and park maintenance facilities, into a city-block sized site. The park building becomes a green hill on the west side, making 100% of the site usable to the public, and offering views to Manhattan. Below the green roof is a complex of building systems – ground source heat pump wells, rainwater harvest and storage, and drip irrigation. A solar trellis produces half the total energy used in the building.” Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building Modernization Portland, Oregon SERA Architects in association with Cutler Anderson Architects According to the AIA:  “On track to be one of the lowest energy-use buildings in the U.S., EGWW is a model for U.S. General Services Administration nationwide. The project’s goal was to transform the existing building from an aging, energy hog to one of the premiere environmentally-friendly buildings in the nation. With a unique facade of “reeds”, light shelf /sunshades designed by orientation and a roof canopy that supports a 180 kW photovoltaic array while collecting rainwater, EGWW pushes the boundaries for innovative sustainable deign strategies. In addition to the energy improvements, the design reveals the history of the building, exposing the artifacts of the original builders.” Gateway Center - SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Syracuse, NY Architerra According to the AIA: “The SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Gateway Center is a striking symbol of environmental stewardship and climate action leadership. This LEED Platinum campus center meets ESF’s goal of reducing the overall carbon footprint of the campus through net positive renewable energy production, while creating a combined heat and power plant and intensive green roof that serve as hands-on teaching and research tools. The double-ended bioclimatic form exemplifies passive solar design. Net positive energy systems integrated with the design serve four adjacent ESF buildings, providing 60% of annual campus heating needs and 20% of annual power needs.” John & Frances Angelos Law Center Baltimore, Maryland Behnisch Architekten and Ayers Saint Gross According to the AIA: “The John and Frances Angelos Law Center is the first large-scale opportunity for the University of Baltimore to demonstrate its intent to pursue strategies that eliminate global warming emissions and achieve climate neutrality. With this in mind, the Law Center is a highly sustainable and innovative structure that strives to reduce reliance on energy and natural resources, minimizing its dependence on mechanical ventilation and artificial lighting of interiors. This is part of a larger comprehensive effort on the part of the A/E team to approach sustainability from a more holistic vantage point from the outset of the project.” Sustainability Treehouse Glen Jean, West Virginia Design Architect: Mithun; Executive Architect/Architect of Record: BNIM According to the AIA: “Situated in the forest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, this interactive, interpretive and gathering facility serves as a unique icon of scouting adventure, environmental stewardship and high performance building design. Visitors ascend indoor and outdoor platforms to experience the forest from multiple vantages and engage with educational exhibits that explore the site and ecosystem at the levels of ground, tree canopy and sky. Innovative green building systems—including a 6,450-watt photovoltaic array output, two 4,000-watt wind turbines, and a 1,000-gallon cistern and water cleansing system—combine to yield a net-zero energy and net-zero water facility that touches its site lightly.” The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters Los Altos, California EHDD According to the AIA: “The David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters acts as a catalyst for broad organizational sustainability and brings staff, grantees and partners together to solve the world’s most intractable problems. The Foundation's connection to the Los Altos community dates back to its inception in 1964. For the last two decades, as its grant making programs expanded locally and worldwide, staff and operations have been scattered in buildings throughout the city. This project enhances proximity and collaboration while renewing the Foundation’s commitment to the local community by investing in a downtown project intended to last through the end of 21st century.” U.S. Land Port of Entry Warroad, Minnesota Snow Kreilich Architects According to the AIA: “This LEED Gold certified Land Port of Entry is the first to employ a ground source heat pump system. Sustainably harvested cedar was used on the entire exterior envelope, canopies and some interior walls and 98% of all wood on the project is FSC certified. Additionally 22% of the material content came from recycled materials and 91% of all work areas have access to daylight. Rainwater collection, reconstructed wetlands and native plantings address resource and site-specific responses. The facility proudly supports the mission-driven demands of US Customs and Border Protection while addressing the sustainable challenges of our future.” Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse Grand Junction, Colorado Design Architect, Westlake Reed Leskosky and Architect of Record, The Beck Group According to the AIA: “The LEED® Platinum renovation preserves an anchor in Grand Junction, and converts the 1918 landmark into one of the most energy efficient, sustainable historic buildings in the country. The design aims to be GSA’s first Site Net-Zero Energy facility on the National Register. Exemplifying sustainable preservation, it restores and showcases historic volumes and finishes, while sensitively incorporating innovative systems and drastically reducing energy consumption. Features include a roof canopy-mounted 123 kW photovoltaic array, variable-refrigerant flow heating and cooling systems, 32-well passive Geo-Exchange system, a thermally upgraded enclosure, energy recovery, wireless controls, fluorescent and LED lighting, and post-occupancy monitoring.”
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Perkins + Will folds in Freelon Group Architects, expands North Carolina practice

  Design giant Perkins + Will has swallowed up Freelon Group Architects, one of the country’s most prominent African American–led firms. The firms announced Tuesday that North Carolina–based Phil Freelon will help lead Perkins + Will’s design efforts in the region and globally. The local head of the combined practice will have nearly 80 professionals, creating one of the largest architecture and design practices in North Carolina. Freelon started his firm in 1990, growing it from a single-person practice to 45 employees. P+W will combine 18 staff members at an office in Morrisville, NC with Freelon’s office in Durham, as well as a 15-person staff in Charlotte. Freelon Group is best known for its work on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, which they designed with David Adjaye, Davis Brody Bond Aedas, and SmithGroup. The museum is targeting a 2015 opening. Freelon’s firm also worked on the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, and the Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights. “There’s a sense that we’re contributing to society as a whole, and making people’s lives better through our buildings in my firm, and Perkins + Will—there’s a lot of public sector clients there,” Freelon told the Durham Herald-Sun’s Laura Oleniacz. “We feel good about creating design excellence and beauty for everyday people.”
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Baltimore’s Hopscotch Crosswalk Colossus

Crossing the street in Baltimore just got a lot more fun. The city has just unveiled its newest dispatch: a "hopscotch crosswalk" transforming the downtown street crossing at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard streets into an entertaining diversion for pedestrians. The project was a component of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts for the Bromo Seltzer Arts & Entertainment District’s desire in incorporate public art in various areas of the city. The piece is comprised of four  crosswalks, each featuring a different footprint symbolizing the city’s many inhabitants. A shoe-print represents the business person, bird tracks mirror the flock of birds in the city sky, the boot portrays the labor force, and the footprint depicts the numerous artists bouncing around the city. Baltimore is one of many cities within the United States which has toyed with crosswalks by altering their main function as gateway between intersecting streets into a tangible piece of entertainment. Other cities such as Milwaukee and Miami have altered their crosswalks to create inventive pathways, transforming them into black-and-white oversized piano keys, or multi-colored lines. This artistic approach has been questioned for its safety, as playing a game of hopscotch in the middle of a busy intersection might not be the most responsible way to interact with traffic. The Baltimore Office of Promotion has assured skeptics, however, that they have worked collaboratively with the Department of Transportation who has approved the design for the project. Both agencies have said that the crosswalk is secure but that its users should remain mindful of the adjacent automobile traffic, stop lights, and other crosswalk signals.
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Product> Finds from the Floor at NeoCon East 2013

The 11th edition of NeoCon East, the sister show to Chicago's summer contract furniture fair, was held October 16 and 17. Despite the government shutdown that legally prevented some GSA employees from attending,  more than 7,000 visitors attended the show at Baltimore's Convention Center to peruse the wares of over 250 exhibitors. Keynote addresses from Michael Graves—who launched a new collection of textiles with cf stinson—and Suzanne Tick were augmented with ongoing educational seminars. Tonic Watson Designed in collaboration with San Francisco–based industrial design firm Mike & Maaike, the freestanding benching system (above) is designed with steel and MDF for both durability and flexibility. A center deck can support video and computer monitors, storage, and LED lamps with a concealed four-circuit, eight-wire raceway. Vistas cf stinson New at NeoCon East, the Vistas collection of upholstery and privacy curtains is Michael Graves' third collection with cf stinson. Six unique patterns render abstractions of the natural environment in soothing blue and green tones. Line Davis Part of the Elements accessories collection, Line is a flush-mounted vertical storage component designed by Apartment 8. A slim, recessed stainless steel bar folds down from the top of the beam, with additional hanging storage on three square knobs in vertical succession below. Line comes in 12 vibrant colors, as well as natural oak or walnut. Diffrient Smart Humanscale Designed by the late Niels Diffrient, the eponymous Smart task chair features ergonomic comforts like Humanscale's patented weight-sensitive recline mechanism that automatically adjusts to the weight and height of the sitter. Three panels of proprietary Form-Sensing Mesh adjust to various body sizes, and armrests are attached to the seat back, as opposed to the seat pan, to echo the chair's angle of recline sans additional adjustment. PolyChair Kimball Office A mesh back and seat on the PolyChair provide maximum user comfort and stacking capabilities—30 high on a dolly and 10 on the ground. Available in five different colors, the polished chrome sled base also features black plastic tabs for ganging. Focal Point OFS Available in a variety of sizes, configurations, and color combinations, Focal Point is a power-integrated seating solution for individual work and break-out group sessions. The angle of the back supports lounging posture, while the exaggerated wings provide a sense of user privacy. An optional 6-inch arm is sized for tablet usage at a table-top height. I.D. Freedom Tarkett New at NeoCon East, the line of luxury vinyl planks and tiles comes in 90 SKUs of natural looks, from bamboo to sandstone to steel. Custom shapes can also be specified from Tarkett's Alabama production facility. The collection contains 53 percent pre-consumer recycled content and is FloorScore certified to contribute to healthy indoor air quality. Cork Wolf-Gordon Sourced from the bark of living quercus suber trees, the sustainable upholstery material is naturally stain and water resistant. Wolf-Gordon's cork textiles exceed 100,000 double rubs and come in four natural colors.