So it’s all over.
O.V.E.R. It was a big push right to the end, but somehow I finished (mostly). The final review was very insightful and the jury fully bought into the project, always a plus. The discussion mostly focused on how the project could be expanded, particularly how the structures built here could then create a new urban structure for the west Baltimore community. Below are the final results of my independent degree project.
The final design focuses on creating an economic incubator, which in turn spur social change and growth; essentially a rapid prototyping machine for the city. The existing depressed roadbed is to become a production floor, building the structure itself, as well as the products designed within the site. The project can be phased, block by block, building up production capacity as the demand grows. The main architectural output of the production center will be pods, which contain all the infrastructure hookups and program elements. Designed to move along the Red Line light rail tracks as well as additional rail lines and cranes positioned at each bridge, their mobility would allow spontaneous changes, allowing the spaces to continually adapt. They can be combined to create huge programs occupying an entire block, or be kept separate for a small beginning business. The ideas are tested in a series of incubator spaces connected to the existing overpasses. They also feature moveable partitions to create a variety of different spaces.
Directly adjacent to the incubators in the middle of each block are a series of public spaces called agorae. These spaces are where the public can interact with the businesses and groups. They also serve to reconnect the communities currently separated by the Highway to Nowhere. Each one is designed to encourage a different group of uses. They can host marketplaces, sports tournaments, festivals, concerts, protests, or an infinite variety of other events. Or the built in infrastructure can allow it to be all of those things at the same thing time.
The pods, once no longer needed within the project, can be moved into the surrounding community, where they could be used by the businesses supported in the project, or they could be recycled into new housing for the residents of the area. The size of the pods allow them to slip into the holes in the existing fabric. Overtime, these structures will completely redefine the urban structure of west Baltimore.