e t i n a B r u
B A L T I M O R E
2005 issue no. 11
Is Baltimore an Emerging Film Town? Jed Dietz, Guest Editor
r e l l e o m n i t r a m guest editor
iches r ’s e r o im lt a b ls a e rev noetes dwith er rhe pev Suin r:re te un e co En s u o h w ro a Hip-Hop Beat toeswLAn h is n a p s w e n s at t’ im An in o t There: MICA Grad fells pOu
raw Home: Building with St in Mount Washington Neighborhood: Scenes of Little Italy
ceytis,onans:d SkStizeve Yeager wit triac Atn ngic Comip guerilla Katie OʼMall z Cyzyk,
Picks Maryland Film Festival
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What can you learn from his buildings? If you're a kid, quite a lot. In one of his building designs, the main entrance resembles a stack of brightly
Excitement is brewing at the harbor’s edge…
colored building blocks. But Peter Winebrenner isn't kidding around. "We may not always take ourselves seriously, but we take what we do seriously," he smiles. "We realize that our buildings will have an impact on a lot of people for a lot of years." Winebrenner is the regional director for the new Brewers Hill office of BSA&A, a noted architectural firm that specializes in the design of schools. To date, the firm has completed over $450 million in educational projects. But the real focus of their work, says Winebrenner, lies
With the new huge neon sign of a winking ‘Mr. Boh” on the harbor’s skyline, you can’t miss it. Under his watchful eye, a new community is taking shape—one that
in wowing their toughest critics–kids. "With schools, it's important to
combines the best
remember that their primary users will be the kids themselves," he notes.
traditions of old Baltimore’s “land of
"If we can create a memorable building that students
pleasant living” with the newest cutting-edge amenities.
want to call their own, it becomes a tool for learning –and we have done our job properly."
That’s Brewers Hill—an exceptional mixed-use community
Pictured above: BSA&A
where you can live, work, and shop. Rising out of the historic National Brewery complex, this extraordinary redevelopment totals more than 750,000 square
For some of her patients, just a friendly voice is the best medicine.
feet and covers 25 acres bordering the water’s edge in Canton. That
Kaitlyn Jones remembers the day when the
said, Brewers Hill
elderly patient in her clinic suddenly burst into
offers you enormous opportunities for growth—with your
tears. "You are the only one who ever takes the time to listen to
choice of flex, retail, and office space, as well as 100 apart-
me," the woman sobbed, " and that's why I'm getting better." Jones
ments and loft-style residences. And, with its central location
and her team staff the Elder Health Suite at Brewer's Hill, a state of the art
just minutes from downtown Baltimore and I-95, you’re never
facility managed by Elder Health, a regional leader in health care plans and
far from, well, anywhere. Even the environmentally “green,”
services for seniors. As the Health Suite's Nurse Practitioner, Jones
energy-efficient building design at Brewer’s Hill is unique, the
oversees a steady stream of older patients-and a range of needs that
first of its kind in the state.
sometimes require more than just medical care. "We're dealing with people that have no support system at home, so we end up being that," she says. By providing access to medical specialists, field nurses, and social workers, Jones makes sure that none of her patients "fall through the cracks."
Tap into a new way of working and living smarter—at Brewers Hill. To see it for yourself, call 410-244-7100.
Her extra efforts have not gone unnoticed; as one patient said to her recently, "You're like family to me." Pictured above: Elder Health
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
The radio station that plays music. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
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AT T E N D A N I N F O R M AT I O N S E S S I O N Rockville, MD
Monday, May 9
Tuesday, June 7
Tuesday, June 7
Thursday, June 9
Saturday, June 11
GRADUATE DIVISION OF BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT S C H O O L O F P RO F E S S I O N A L S T U D I E S I N B U S I N E S S & E D U C AT I O N
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O R G A N I Z AT I O N D E V E L O P M E N T
S T R AT E G I C H U M A N R E S O U R C E S
R E A L E S TAT E
newly cut and polished The old Clipper Mill is in good hands today. Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse is transforming the historic site into a lively community of craftspeople, homes and shops. Light Rail stops at the front gate, and it’s just a few minutes to downtown.
One & Two Bedroom Condos in a Historic, Wooded Enclave Between Hampden & Woodberry.
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Smart Living IN CHARLES VILLAGE I t's that certain, compelling quality of style in creative urban living. Where your residence blends the best design characteristics of old and new. Where stepping outside your door takes you into a vibrant neighborhood that's full of possibilities. Where every amenity — from hip restaurants and major cultural attractions to farmers' markets and unique shops — is just a short stroll away. It's about being in the center of it all.
You may come to the Village Lofts looking for a place to live. What you’ll discover is a new style of living. • Spacious floor plans • Secured access
• Reserved parking • Private balconies
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MHBR No. 4010
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Urbanite Issue 11 May 2005 Publisher Tracy Ward Durkin Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com
BA LT IMOR E
General Manager Jean Meconi Jean@urbanitebaltimore.com
photo by Marshall Clarke
We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us. —Winston Churchill
his spring, several experts on the built environment trained their eyes on Baltimore, including this month’s guest editor, the National Building Museum’s Martin Moeller. Urban observer Roberta Brandes Gratz, award-winning author of The Living City and Cities Back from the Edge, toured the city in April and, like Moeller, was struck by the housing stock that still exists here. “You have a spectacular city and there’s a lot of spectacular urban fabric left,” Gratz says. “What’s happening in Baltimore that’s so interesting is the regeneration of your local character.” That local character has a lot to do with why people are choosing to make Baltimore home. As we explored the theme for this issue, it set us to asking what, exactly, “home” means. Home, at its deepest meaning, includes the community. A house is embedded in context—spaces, people, scenes—and that context grows intensely personal through familiarity and shared experience. If we limit our perspective, and our concern, to the space within our domestic walls, we will fall short in our search for home. Perhaps one reason we are seeing a renaissance in city living is that the context and the experiences in a city are so dense and rich that they transform our physical dwellings into true homes. When we talk about preservation of local character, observed Gratz during her time in Baltimore, we are really talking about “preserving the city, not just its buildings.”
We are entering an interesting phase in our city’s physical evolution. Developers want what cities have to offer and we are no exception. Drive the horseshoe length of the harbor and you’ll find sign after sign announcing new housing, while anyone entering the city via I-83 is welcomed by a billboard emblazoned with, “Live Next to the Mayor.” To the north, at the corner of Calvert and Lanvale Streets in the heart of the Station North Arts District, a new sign claims townhomes starting in the upper $200,000s are on the way. Meanwhile, the East and West Sides are slated for major renewal projects. After years of disinvestment in cities, we are now at a time where we can ask: What do we want Baltimore to be? The kind of housing that we encourage is critical. We have an opportunity not only to revitalize our past, but to think boldly about our future. We have a choice: lowest-common-denominator design brought on by what’s best for the developer, or genuinely thoughtful, integrated design that makes Baltimore a true city of choice. We choose to live in cities because we value what they have to offer. As we look to capitalize on this burgeoning development frenzy, let’s not forget what it is that makes Baltimore singular. Let’s commit to building on our strengths rather than renewing ourselves into blandness. Above all, let’s remember why we call this city home.
—Elizabeth A. Evitts
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Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth A. Evitts Elizabeth@urbanitebaltimore.com Senior Editor Lizzie Skurnick Lizzie@urbanitebaltimore.com Guest Editor Martin Moeller Art Direction Castro/Arts LLC Designer Ida Woldemichael Copy Editor Angela Davids/Alter Communications Advertising Director Jeff Stintz Jeff@urbanitebaltimore.com Office Manager Bellee Gossett Bellee@urbanitebaltimore.com Editorial Assistant Robbie Whelan Robbie@urbanitebaltimore.com Founder Laurel Harris Durenberger Advertising/Editorial/Business Offices P.O. Box 50158, Baltimore, MD 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-467-7802 www.urbanitebaltimore.com Editorial Inquiries: Send queries to the editor-in-chief (no phone calls, please) including SASE. The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily support the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Future Themes June: Water July: Independence August: Literature September: Architecture and Design October: Health November: Spirituality Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 2005 by Urbanite LLC. All Rights Reserved. This publication is FREE and is distributed widely through out Baltimore City. If you know of a location that urbanites frequent and would recommend placing the magazine there, please contact us at: 410-243-2050.
photo by Frank Klein
Martin Moeller Martin Moeller, senior vice president for special projects at the National Building Museum, has served as the executive director of both the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and executive vice president of the Washington Architectural Forum. Moeller most recently curated the exhibition Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete. Moeller is currently president of the board of directors of Children in Art, a nonprofit organization that provides multicultural performing and visual arts programming to children in the Washington area.
11 corkboard 12 have you heard… 15 food: the no-commitment picnic steve blair
17 neighborhoods: spanish town
Paul Burk is a photographer of architecture, interiors, and the built environment. A graduate of the MFA program at Indiana University, Burk was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to travel to Romania, where he examined the effects of widespread industrialization on the landscape. Burk’s work has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, Miruna, and their greyhound, Peanut.
20 home: the baltimore style adrienne noonan
22 encounter: weed warriors jason tinney
24 baltimore observed: weworkforthem
photo by Frank Klein
photo by Frank Klein
Adrienne Noonan Adrienne Noonan lives in Bolton Hill with her family, where they endeavor to renovate their townhouse. When she met James Rieck and Judith Lichtman, the homeowners profiled this month, Noonan was impressed by the couple’s witty interior style. Prior to moving to Baltimore in 2003, she was a food and lifestyle editor for Epicurious and Martha Stewart Living in New York. She is the publications manager at MICA, a job she says has thankfully released her “from the toils and frustrations” of endless renovations.
26 man on the street: a drive through baltimore with architecture expert martin moeller
30 picking poppleton elizabeth a. evitts
Andrew Scherr Andrew Scherr grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Tulane University with a dual major in English and Spanish. A freelance writer in the city, he is also the marketing director for Baltimore’s 25th Anniversary LatinoFest (June 18 and 19) and the editor of Assisi House’s ¡Hola Baltimore!, the first bilingual guide to the city. ¡Hola Baltimore! aims to increase opportunities for the city’s growing Hispanic population by promoting Hispanic businesses, religious organizations, media outlets, and culture, while expanding awareness of this population. The website (www.holabaltimorecity.org) launches in May.
34 rethinking the rowhome amanda kolson hurley
36 a conversation with karrie jacobs elizabeth a. evitts
38 the lenses of jacob riis anne winters
photo by Jeane Breslin
Anne Winters Anne Winters is the author of The Displaced of Capital, winner of the 2005 William Carlos Williams Prize from the Poetry Society of America, and The Key to the City. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, The Yale Review, and many other publications. She is the recipient of the Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, Wellesley’s Teasdale Prize for Poetry, and fellowships from the Camargo and Károlyi Foundations in France.
40 out there: massive change pamela haag
43 in review cover collage: Cornel Rubino
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human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home. —Bill Cosby, entertainer A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it. —H. L. Mencken, Baltimore writer A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one’s life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself. —Louis L’Amour, novelist
I was simply furnishing a home. I love music ... and I don’t think a $130,000 indoor-outdoor stereo system is extravagant.
—Leona Helmsley, real estate tycoon The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. —Thomas Jefferson, president A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden. —Buddha
A tap legend electrifies the stage.
A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. —Margaret Fuller, author Home life as we understand it is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo. —George Bernard Shaw, playwright
Photo by Len Irish, Dance Magazine
Catch Tony Award® winner Savion Glover’s brilliant improvisation and heart stopping choreography for two shows only!
MAY 4-5 AT 8PM
HIPPODROME THEATRE France-Merrick Performing Arts Center 12 N. Eutaw Street, Baltimore
Tickets: 410.547.SEAT or Ticketmaster.com
Tickets also available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Hippodrome Box Office (M-Sat 10-5) Groups (20+): call 410.837.0110 or 800.889.8457 • france-merrickpac.com TICKETS ARE SUBJECT TO HANDLING FEES AND SERVICE CHARGES. NO EXCHANGES OR REFUNDS.
Won’tcha come with me to Alabammy, Back to the arms of my dear ol’ Mammy, Her cookin’s lousy and her hands are clammy, But what the hell, it’s home. — Tom Lehrer, from the song “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie ” When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood. —Sam Ewing, American radio and television personality The fellow that owns his own home is always just coming out of a hardware store. —Kin Hubbard, American humorist I live in my house as I live inside my skin: I know more beautiful, more ample, more sturdy and more picturesque skins: but it would seem to me unnatural to exchange them for mine. —Primo Levi, Italian chemist and author Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. —William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement
what you’re saying
Virginia is for (Urbanite) Lovers
I have one word for Baltimore—“Wow!”—and that statement is hinged on my love affair with your slammin’ tabloid. I was at my favorite pizza place, Brick Oven Pizza (BOP) in Fells Point, when the Super 8mm camera on the cover beckoned to me. Hats off to you for giving the reins to guest editor Jed Dietz. I hope you will do a film issue every April from here on out. After I read the issue, I felt like the Uma Thurman character in Pulp Fiction, and Urbanite was the adrenaline shot in my chest. I have one question: What can I do to get you to publish an Urbanite Richmond?
Inspired by Alice Ockleshaw’s coverage of Highlandtown [“Neighborhoods,” February], a reader sent in his own memory of the “Best Urban Skateboard Hangout,” found at Federal Hill’s Southern High School.
—Martin Jones is a producer of feature films and national commercials based in Richmond, Virginia.
Extra Credit I loved reading the issue about “Up-and-Coming” Baltimoreans [March], but I didn’t see any coverage of up–and-comers in the Baltimore City school system, and for that I am deeply disappointed in your research efforts, and possibly your vision for what’s up-and-coming in the city. Any casual observer of the school system knows that it was troubled last year, in debt, with people’s jobs on the line. But this year, within that rubble, there is a lot of hope: Young teachers and administrators are turning things around and inspiring academic achievement, and the nonprofit education organizations are having a tremendous impact on what goes on in schools. All educators deserve more recognition than they get, and this was a missed opportunity to give them the credit they deserve. —Zach Perin is a senior program director at Teach For America in Baltimore.
Among the skate-or-die set, the deserted penitentiary allure of monolithic Southern High School in the evening must have some compelling siren song. How else to explain the crowd of urbanite skateboarders that gather at sunset around the graffiti-scarred steel ship’s bow, a tribute to SoBo’s shipyard roots, that dominates the school’s main entrance? Baltimore living. The lack of traffic on wide Covington Street might have something to do with it. But even though everyone brings their own skateboards, not that much actual skateboarding seems to be going on. A few urbanite skateboarders are usually jumping the curbs or practicing their moves on the steps. Many more just come to hang out, make out, or get out of the house. There’s a nice view of the harbor from the high school steps, and most seem content to stand around, spin their wheels, ponder those high school imponderables, and watch as the Domino Sugars sign flicks on. All of course, in the shadow of the hated institution which binds them together.
dent films, often at churches or small theaters. Way before Pink Flamingos, we would just go see Fellini, Bergman, or other foreign films, and then go have dinner at Mee Jung Low’s, a small second-floor Chinese restaurant off Park Avenue. My friends and I have always been underground writers. We first published a magazine in 1966 called The Sound Hole, with articles by local poet Sam Cornish, and others, and would mimeograph it in our basement and sell it on Read Street and Park Avenue for five cents. We tried to let people know who was coming into town and have news about the local folk scene. Anyway, it’s so nice to see a publication here like yours. —Jon Berle is a local artist, writer, photographer and musician who currently works in the communications division of the Maryland Transit Administration.
Correction Issue no. 10’s Food column [“Farm Fresh,” April] stated that The Village, a natural food co-op in Charles Village, opened in March 2004. Gretchen Heilman and five cofounders opened The Village in March 2005.
—Baltimore resident Steven Voynow, from the video Baltimore Living. © Steven Voynow, 1995.
Thanks for the Memories Been enjoying the recent issue of Urbanite immensely [April]. Your magazine keeps getting better and better! I’ve always loved the Baltimore film and folk scene. I fondly remember trips downtown in the ’60s when that was the only way to see indepen-
Urbanite welcomes feedback, commentary, and ideas for future issues. Send us an e-mail with your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail letters to What You’re Saying, Urbanite, P.O. Box 50158, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include a brief bio for attribution. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. All letters are considered property of Urbanite LLC.
“Robbery. It’s a beautiful word.”
The Voysey Inheritance by Harley
Granville Barker | Directed by Irene Lewis | The Head Theater
April 29th–June 5th | Tickets $10–$55
www.centerstage.org or 410.332.0033 w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
Find YOUR Place in the City . . .
house tour April 23, 2005 | 1:00-4:00 pm | 36 N. Streeper St.
The “Best of the Best” architect-designs from Patterson Park’s premiere developer Patterson Park Community Development Corporation 443.220.5942 www.ppcdc.org
Owned and Operated by NRT, Inc.
of patterson park
312 Wyndhurst Avenue Baltimore 410-433-7800
Wi l l i a m Ca rro l l
Three Days of Dance
The Dinner Party
Sankofa Dance Theater, the energetic troupe steeped in the legacy of African dance and culture, presents three days of performances by students enrolled in community classes. Each performance will include a keynote speech by a member of the Sankofa company.
Catch The Vagabond
photo by A. L. Gray
2901 Druid Park Drive May 27–29 Call for times 410-669-DRUM www.sankofadancetheater.org
Palladian Baltimore: Builders and Bibliophiles
Players’ twist on a classically comedic Parisian dinner for five as they continue the 20042005 season, the theatre’s eighty-ninth year.
The BMA and the Historic Homewood House sponsor a weekend-long lecture series that explores early neo-classical architecture in Baltimore.
photo by Tom Lauer
$50 reserved/$55 at the door BMA Auditorium 10 Art Museum Drive May 20–22 9:30 a.m.–12 p.m. 410-516-6710 www.artbma.org
806 South Broadway Through May 15 Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. Sundays, 2 p.m. 410-563-9135
Save the Pata
year in a row, For the four th t Joe Stewar t lis ta environmen iles across the will swim 4.4 m tapsco River to outh of the Pa m Live Baltimore’s seventh preser vation ise money for ra the annual Buying Into Baltimore swim’s finish, groups. At the t in Po th or Fair and Neighborhood Tours N at blic will meet pu ” in ehas educational seminars and river “wad ate Park for a St trolley tours of Baltimore’s and a picnic.
diverse West Side for prospective home-buyers, plus chances to $3,000 towards down-payment and closing costs and part of $300,000 in incentive monies. The eastern half of the city is slated for September.
This flamboyant procession featuring steel drum bands, drill sergeants, and floats officially kicks off the Charles Village Festival, a weekend of music, crafts, food, and wine, bracketed by a slightly more low-key 5-K run early Saturday and a Sunday garden walk. Parade begins at the corner of St. Paul and 23rd Streets,10:00 a.m. www.charlesvillage.net
photo by Rick Lippenholz
photo by Rory Flanagan
May 14 9 a.m. –2 p.m. Polytechnic Institute High School 1400 West Cold Spring Lane 410-637-3750 www.livebaltimore.com/hb/ BIB/
May 22 12 p.m. ate Park, Rt. 20 Nor th Point St 410-243-4418
photo by Joe Stewart
g Buyin ltimore a B o Int
Music Al Fresco the shops Every Friday star ting in May, outdoor free a t hos are at Belvedere Squ artists. Zydeco l loca g urin feat es seri cert con things off band the Junkyard Saints kick Thursdays, t Firs on’s Vern nt Mou 6. on May oor outd ure feat beginning May 5, will certs, con rk r-wo afte and ra ope lunchtime rp, Sha a Mai including appearances from ntry cou and t, blet Bram dall Jess Klein, Ran . and bluegrass band The Country Music in Belvedere Square Belvedere Square edere Avenue Corner of York Road and Belv May 6, 13, 20, 27 6 p.m.–9 p.m. 410-464-9773 ww w.belvederesquare.com First Thursdays Mount Vernon Place, West Park s, 5:30–8:30 Opera, 12–1, After-work concert 410-244-1030
com/events.html ww w.godowntownbaltimore.
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have you heard. . .
Ha yes -Per ez
While trash doesn’t immediately come to mind as spring’s perfect accessory, it’s the source for some of Baltimore’s hottest new baubles. The Baltimore Public Works Museum store is stocking up on reclaimed “Trashion” from artist Christy Fisher, whose “jewels” are mined from aluminum soda cans, melted glass bottles, and shards of vintage glassware ($10 to $25). Across town, Hampden’s Shine Collective has a new twist on an old standard with whimsical charm bracelets crafted from found objects and one-of-a-kind vintage elements. Balti-
y ob ot ph
more designer Philippa Berrington-Blew says her work may be crafted from “a charm I find that is particularly beautiful, a buckle from a gentleman’s shoe from a previous century, or a clasp from a string of pearls that has been broken for many years.” With Charm City residents generating up to 750 tons of trash every day, these beauties are hitting the scene none too soon. Baltimore Public Works Museum; 751 Eastern Avenue; 410-3965565. Shine Collective; 3554 Roland Avenue; 410366-6100; www.shinecollective.com.
dV isit or s
Our City by Night and Day.” The winning work will debut at Artscape in July, then travel overseas for an exhibition in Xiamen in September. Submissions (up to three per person) are due to BOPA by May 27. Up to 40 works will be chosen. Mail to: Xiamen Photography Contest, BOPA, 7 East Redwood Street, Suite 500, Baltimore, MD 21202; 410752-8632, ext. 4336; www.promotionandarts.com. on
You may not realize that for the past twenty years Charm City has had a sister city abroad: Xiamen (zha-MEN), a port city in China. Now, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs are teaming up to celebrate the two-decade partnership with a photography contest, which invites both professional and amateur photographers ages 18 and older to submit work on the theme “Baltimore 24:
rea of Baltimore A
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an App a
Clothing... The grand opening of a new Baltimore location of popular T-shirt store American Apparel, which is in an area of Federal Hill not known for national clothing stores, may signal a change in the kind of shopping the city can attract. American Apparel, which has almost fifty locations worldwide, has enjoyed a rocketing rise in popularity that has been compared to the explosion of the Gap stores in the 1970s. The L.A.-based company has made it a mission to sell only non-sweatshop clothing. Their
wear is funky and functional, cool and comfy, and comes in mens, womens and baby lines. Their branding strategy—displaying cutting-edge artwork in their stores, finding the hottest models to tout their line, and generally preying on the hipster alterna-class—has made them into a distinctive kind of retail shop. Look for them to open this month. American Apparel; 1125-27 Light Street; www.americanapparelstore.com.
Contemporary Homes In Historic Neighborhoods Canton
New LuxuryGarageTownhomes Garage Townhomes From New Luxury From$279,900 $259,900
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t en nv Co
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transformed an abandoned pants factory into a coffeehouse serving not only Orinoco brews and a generous spread of pastries, but gourmet dog biscuits as well. The café also features free Wi-Fi and loungeable couches in the back. CapPOOCHino Café; 625 Washington Boulevard; 410-244-0957.
Think Alpo and au lait don’t mix? They’ve got a different view over at CapPOOCHino Café, the brainchild of Baltimore developers—and dog lovers—Tristan O’Connell and Neil Junker. O’Connell says that the Ridgely’s Delight neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from Camden Yards, boasts an extremely high percentage of dog owners. So, they
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Channel your inner green this year at the fourth annual Baltimore City Golf Tournament, a day‑long celebration at Lutherville’s sprawling Pine Ridge Golf Course near Loch Raven Reservoir. All funds from the competition go to benefit “BELIEVE in a Greener Baltimore,” the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks’ volunteer park-ser-
vice program that assists the department in park cleanups, tree plantings, invasive plant removal, and other activities to keep our city’s parks green. Pine Ridge Golf Course; 2101 Dulaney Valley Road; June 10; 7 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; 410-396-7900; email@example.com; www.ci.baltimore. md.us/government/recnparks/home.htm.
than ever before,” Ciferri says, and that old-meetsnew aesthetic is reflected in the whimsical logo, a twist on the ’50s shoe polish of the same name. The understated street-level entrance belies the sophisticated second-floor gallery above, with its polished hardwood floors and lime sherbet walls. The gallery is open daily. 882 Park Avenue; 410-5238350 or 410-523-4657; www.shinolagallery.com.
The Read Street Tattoo Parlour has expanded from flesh to canvas with the birth of Shinola Gallery, an upstairs artspace within its new Park Avenue location. Curators Seth Ciferri and Amy Schwartzbaum have staged two shows since the February opening: A Modest Proposal, featuring more than 20 artists, and Action Speaks, which showcased the works of Kris Vandevander and Julie Benoit. Mixing art and tattoos “has kept all of us fresh and more inspired
by To dd Briz zi
at str illu
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W I N E O N W E D N E S DAY S Every Wednesday, 4 pm to close, all bottles & glasses of wine are half price. What are you waiting for?
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Evenings of Wine & Cheese Join Whole Foods Market, Harbor East and Bin 604 for our exciting new series; Evenings of Wine & Cheese . Over the course of the series we will explore pairings of wine & cheese from all over the World. this month we will be featuring:
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by steve blair
The No-Commitment Picnic
While fact-checking this easy-access article, we made an uneasy discovery: Many of these no-commitment spots in fact require a permit, and some require that you never picnic on the premises, period. Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Department spokeswoman Lynn Baker confirmed that, for Baltimore City parks, “anyone can come into the park and bring lunch,” but you must reserve a particular location in advance or risk being kicked off by someone who has. For pavilions, groves, grilling, and alcohol consumption in the city parks, permits are always required. Baker was hazy on the max for the permit-less (“200 or more would definitely require a permit”), while Purchasing Assistant Rebecca Rich was sure it was required for parties above ten. In any case, we’ve been enjoying the idylls below without being hauled away in chains for years. Far be it from us to deny you the pleasure of also becoming a blanket-spreading, fried-chickengnawing outlaw (with your eleven to 201 friends, of course). Picnic at your own risk. Stuffing a blanket and food in a big bag and heading out for a meal on the grass, commonly known as having a picnic, can sometimes seem like too much of an undertaking. But remember that the word “picnic” is like the word “cakewalk”—it is slang for an easy, pleasurable task. A picnic needs to be a simple outing; anything complicated or arduous is no longer a picnic. As the season gets warmer, I offer a solution: I call it the “no-commitment picnic.” It’s simple. Don’t plan anything in advance. Instead, the next time you’re gazing out your window and notice that it’s a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, make a quick decision to throw an impromptu picnic. Get a few friends on the horn or send out quick e-mails—something to the effect of, “6 p.m. Federal Hill Park. Bring whatever.” Each guest stops somewhere and picks up prepared food (think pasta salad, fried chicken, grilled panini sandwiches) and next thing you know it’s dinnertime and you’re sitting high atop Federal Hill with good friends, good food, a warm breeze, and one of the best views of the city. What’s even better is that an hour or two later, as each of you goes your separate way, you suddenly realize that in one fell swoop, you got outside, fed yourself dinner, saw friends and still have the whole night ahead of you.
courtesy Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland
Make the most of a relaxing portable feast in the grass.
Marylanders enjoy a picnic in 1888. (Do you think they needed a permit?)
It is important to remember that if the arrangements get too complicated, the moment could spoil. Don’t so much as glance at the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living. Keep it easy or the whole thing may not be worth the effort. Rather than assign friends specific items, consider it a potluck. There are plenty of places to host a no-commitment picnic—we have 6,000 acres of city parkland and public space—but among the many choices, consider some of these spots and the nearby businesses where you can grab-n-go. Picnic grounds: Sherwood Gardens (4100 Greenway Street at Stratford Road) Amenities: 6 ½ grassy acres generously dotted with flower gardens. Where to park: Street parking, Greenway southbound. Where to stop first: Eddie’s of Roland Park (5113 Roland Avenue): fried chicken, broccoli salad; Belvedere Square (540 East Belvedere Avenue): The indoor market has a plethora of places with picnic fare like olives, bread and cheese, paté and homemade soups. Note: The garden, owned by Guilford residents, is famous for its incredible display of tulips in early May, so be sure to visit this spot soon. ** Picnic grounds: Federal Hill Park (Key Highway at Battery Avenue) Amenities: Grassy lawn, great view, dogs allowed (on leashes). Where to park: Key Highway meters, available street parking. Where to stop first: Cross Street Market (1065 South Charles Street): soft shell sandwiches, sushi, chicken wings; Trattoria Anna Maria Italian Deli & Grocery (1035 Light Street): delicious subs and Italian cookies; Cross Street Cheese Company (1103 Light Street): take-away fare, olives, bread and cheese. Note: Oriole game nights can hinder parking. *
Picnic grounds: Round Falls, also called Horseshoe Falls (Fallsway, north of Maryland Avenue; south of Chestnut Avenue) Amenities: Timber patio overlooking peaceful, crescent waterfalls. Where to park: With Falls Road closed between Maryland Avenue and Clipper Mill Road, you may be able to find parking in and around the Stieff Building on weekend and off hours. Hike down the hiker-biker path to Round Falls. Where to stop first: Sofi’s Crepes (1723 North Charles Street): sweet or savory crepes; Showalter’s (3360 Chestnut Avenue): crabcakes, peel-n-eat shrimp; The Golden West (1105 West 36th Street): Mediterranean platters and creative sandwiches. Note: One of the city’s best-kept secrets. A true urban oasis. * Picnic grounds: Cylburn Arboretum (4915 Greenspring Avenue) Amenities: 207 acres of formal and woodland gardens; historic mansion. Where to park: Inside the park itself. Where to stop first: Whole Foods (Mount Washington): salad bar and prepared foods; vegetarian wraps and blue corn chips; sushi and seaweed salad; spinach, asparagus, and steamed fish. Note: Great walking through the woods on flowernamed trails. **
* Blanket-friendly ** Risky picnic
You can secure a general permit for a Baltimore City park at the Department of Recreation and Parks Headquarters, 3001 East Drive, Druid Hill Park; (410) 396-7012. Forms are also available online at www. ci.baltimore.md.us/government/recnparks. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
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by andrew scherr
photo by Frank Klein
A burgeoning community linked by language has found a home in and around Fells Point
On Broadway between Fleet and Baltimore Streets, the morning rush begins around 5 a.m. Boisterous young day laborers assemble outside the 7-11 on the corner of Broadway and Lombard. Clad in layers of oversized clothes, the men wait for someone to drive by and offer them a day’s work. Some find work quickly. Others wait all day in vain. Some wait sick, others wait intoxicated, but all are anxious to connect with an employer who will pay them modest wages in cash. Across the street, Cirilo Coseilla is parked outside St. Patrick’s Church. At this early hour he stands over a hot stove in the back of his large tin truck cooking fresh chicken, beef, pork, tongue, and tortillas—key ingredients for the gorditas, tacos and tamales he intends to sell to hungry customers during the lunch hours. By 9 a.m., the area’s small business owners are setting up their shops. Some live above the store; their commute is a flight of stairs. Others come from as far as Washington, D.C. to stock their shelves, sweep their floors or prepare their kitchens. The day ahead can be taxing, especially servicing customers who expect them to communicate in a language they are still struggling to learn. By 10:30 a.m., all doors on the upper portion of South Broadway are open and the heart of Baltimore’s up-and-coming immigrant community is in full swing. English is rarely spoken along this strip of Upper Fells Point these days; the animated greetings and earnest conversations are in Spanish. Store front signs declare “Se Habla Español.” Spanish language periodicals entitled Opinón Latina and El Tiempo Latino are stacked high on newspaper stands.
In the area loosely bounded in the west by Central Avenue, by Baltimore and Fleet Streets in the north and south, and extending as far east as Haven Street in Highlandtown, Hispanics are beginning to show the semblance of a community. Although these immigrants hail from twenty different countries, their unifying thread is the Spanish language. The national and ethnic differences that bedevil many larger Hispanic communities elsewhere in the United States don’t yet afflict Baltimore. Here, Hispanics are grateful just to stumble upon someone who speaks their language. “In New York, the communities are much bigger and there are many problems between people coming from different countries, but here it is very small and I don’t see any problems,” observes Isaac Burak, who immigrated to New York from Buenos Aires, Argentina, when he was 14 years old. The 40-year-old businessman moved to Baltimore in 2003 to open his first Sin Fronteras store on the 300 block of Broadway. “[Hispanic] people [in Baltimore] like to see others who speak Spanish.” Whatever their point of origin, almost all members of the Hispanic population came to Baltimore for the same reason: to embark on a new and more fruitful life than they could realize in their native countries. Day laborers, clerks, waiters, small business owners—whatever their endeavor, Hispanics in Baltimore are working tirelessly to adjust, cope, make ends meet and, possibly, to thrive. “Business is good,” nods Coseilla as he watches the line extend outside his truck at lunchtime. Though his truck, known as “la troca” or “la lonchera” by most of his customers, has become a
neighborhood favorite, Coseilla hopes he will soon find an affordable space where he can open his own restaurant. “It could be better. There is always something with the truck. If it rains or snows, things can get slow.” Victor Cruz has what Cirilo Coseilla dreams of, a stable space for his business, and he’s optimistic about the future. “There is great opportunity here,” he says. Cruz’s grocery La Famosita has been open on the corner of Fleet and Ann streets for six months. Originally from Puebla, Mexico, Cruz immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, in 1974, where he worked in a grocery store that is the model for La Famosita. Cruz says he moved to Baltimore two years ago because it is “más tranquilo [more mellow].” Now Cruz can almost always be found behind the glass display case at La Famosita in his stained apron and worn out baseball cap with a logo that pays homage to his home country, ready to wait on customers. His wife is often around to help. So are his 8- and 9-yearold sons when they are not in school. Cruz has lived in the United States for thirty years, and still his English is severely limited. He has been working since he was very young and had little, if any, time for formal education. He understands enough English to be able to greet, serve and thank his English-speaking customers. While this is sufficient, he would like to learn more if he can ever find the time. The language barrier can be even more of an issue at a place like La Cazuela, an Ecuadorian restaurant popular among Hispanics and Anglos alike. The Ecuadorian owners, Marina and Enrique Tapia, do what they can to serve their American clientele, w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
Juan and Cristobalina Ramos at their store/restaurant La Guadalupana on Eastern Avenue and Wolfe Street
The Tapias stand behind the counter at their Eastern Avenue restaurant La Cazuela
Sandra Candelaría in her store Don Pedro’s Music Shop on Broadway
Hispanic or Latino? Many use the terms interchangeably, as does Mayor O’Malley’s Hispanic Liaison Office. “Hispanic” is actually Nixon-era bureaucratese created to label a growing immigrant group. It was embraced by most of those it purportedly defined, as in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (established in 1976). Though some see an objectionable remnant of Spanish colonization in the term, instead of the unifying thread of the Spanish language, we have chosen to use “Hispanic” for simplicity and general acceptance. Under either label, the group is multiracial, multicultural, and extremely diverse.
etables and yucca.” She describes yucca as “a potato but más sabrosa [tastier]” that is “usually fried or eaten in soup.” Other stores in the area transcend nationalities and carry goods with a universal Hispanic appeal. At Don Pedro’s Music Shop on Broadway, Puerto Rican-born Pedro Candelaría and his wife, Sandra, sell CDs of Latin music from all over, including salsa, meringue, bachata, flamenco, and reggae. Just one block up is Isaac Burak’s Sin Fronteras where he sells authentic jerseys of different soccer clubs from South and Central American countries. Even as they make progress toward their dreams, the aspiring Hispanics of Baltimore’s “Spanish Town” are caught in a classic squeeze. The vitality they have brought to the neighborhood has inflated the cost of living and doing business there. “The Hispanic community has increased the property value here,” Burak says proudly. Burak toiled as a wholesaler and commuted back and forth from New York for four years until he could afford his own business. In 2003, he opened Sin Fronteras in a rowhouse at 307 South Broadway. Burak installed a new floor, walls, and ceiling to make the place presentable. But he still can’t afford to buy it because his own efforts keep pushing the price out of reach. “This place was nothing when I got it,” he says. “When I came to the landlord four years ago, he wanted $30,000 for this place. Now he wants $140,000.” So for now Burak lives above the store with his wife and 11-year-old daughter and, like many other Baltimore Hispanics, works for the day when his labors will finally pay off. Nonetheless, Burak has high hopes for the future. “The area is growing so much and with so much need,” he said. He recently opened his second business, Sin Fronteras II, which, like the original, sells athletic apparel, helps customers with money transfers and bill payments, and is also a travel agency. The original Sin Fronteras also has an outdoor kiosk that sells tortas [sandwiches] and liquados [smoothies], both neighborhood favorites. Around the corner on Eastern Avenue, the Ramos family has settled in securely. Not only is their Mexican restaurant and grocery store, La Guadalupana, one of the city’s best-known Hispanic businesses, but Cristobalina and Juan Ramos also own their entire side of the block between Wolfe and Ann Streets, where their eldest daughter, Daisy, owns and operates the bakery Panaderia Ramos. Their family of eight lives in a rowhouse attached to the back of their store, which is open seven days a week. “We are very happy with the neighborhood here,” says Cristobalina, still struggling with her English after thirteen years in Baltimore. “It is very calm and business is good.” As she bakes fresh tortillas, Cristobalina talks about the family business’s market niche. “We only sell Mexican products here, nothing else.” The store’s narrow aisles are stocked with various products one would very rarely find in the average grocery store. In the meat department, they carry fresh chorizo and cecina, fresh tortilla meat pre-prepared for the customer’s convenience. In the front of the store in the produce section are barrels of fresh jalapeños and poblanos—a type of chili pepper usually eaten stuffed with cheese.
photographs by Mitro Hood
but often have trouble understanding them. Their bilingual 16-year-old son works as a waiter to mediate between the customers and the kitchen. For many of the first-generation immigrants like Coseilla, Cruz and the Tapias, language becomes even more of a problem outside the workplace. The rapid influx of Hispanic residents—in the past decade alone, Baltimore’s Hispanic population has nearly tripled, reaching an estimated 55,000—caught the city by surprise. Many public and private institutions are still not equipped to cater to people who do not speak English. Spanish speakers who call city agencies are routinely routed through the Mayor’s Hispanic Liaison Office, which has a staff of just two. Public school staff members are often unable to communicate with Spanish-speaking parents, making it difficult for parents to play an active role in their children’s education. “Kids have to be translators at parentteacher conferences, which defeats the purpose of a parent-teacher conference,” explains Jessica Robinson, the project coordinator at Education Based Latino Outreach (EBLO). EBLO has been in Baltimore since the early 1980s and aims to help educate Hispanic children and adults through various programs about various subjects. “[Parents] want their kids to do well in school but don’t know how to help them.” In addition to EBLO, other nonprofit organizations have been established to address the numerous challenges that face the city’s Hispanic population. The Hispanic Apostolate, the Assisi House, Centro de la Comunidad, and CASA de Maryland perform community outreach, job placement, and legal advocacy work to help improve the quality of life for these new immigrants in Baltimore. Despite the challenges of assimilating, Hispanic immigrants are having a positive impact on the neighborhood. Javier Bustamante, founder and CEO of Spanish Town Community Development, LLC, an organization dedicated to improving Upper Fells Point, says Hispanics are improving that neighborhood. “Hispanics bring a sense of vitality to the area that wasn’t there before,” Bustamante says. “The people come here to work, play, and live, and in doing so revitalize the area. Many start their own businesses, and all work like fiends.” Bustamante also points out that the variety of Hispanic cultures infused into the borough has created “one of the most diverse areas in the city.” While the nickname “Spanish Town” has not yet become part of the Greater Baltimore vernacular, Hispanics have brought a new personality to an area previously in decline. Their restaurants, stores, and shops are unlike any Baltimore has seen before. La Famosita, for example, carries everything from fresh cut chuletas (pork chops), to Mexican phone cards, to edible cactus plants. In Victor Cruz’s native town of Puebla, Mexico, many consider cactus a delicacy. At La Cazuela, Marina and Enrique Tapia serve Ecuadorian dishes, which many folks in the area have discovered are ideal for a leisurely lunch or dinner. “We don’t eat tortillas,” Marina explains about her native country’s cuisine. “Our food is not like Mexico.” Apparently it is a common misconception among outsiders that the foods of Central and South America are all alike. “We eat other foods like veg-
Tienda El Progreso on Broadway
“¿Que desea Usted?” A young man at the service window of Cirilo Coseilla’s taco truck waits to take your order.
Isaac Burak in his Broadway store Sin Fronteras
Juan and Cristobalina Ramos are among the few Hispanics who have been able to purchase property in burgeoning Upper Fells Point. Indeed, the escalating property values may someday scatter the Hispanic community. Many Hispanic immigrants are now looking to buy homes in other areas of the city and county. Fallstaff in the northwest and Brooklyn in the southern part of Baltimore City are two examples of other neighborhoods developing their own Hispanic presence. As the busy day winds down, Carlos, a forlorn day laborer outside the 7-114/1/05 who would notPMgivePage his 1 GG_SSGS Ad Urbanite 5:58 last name, bespeaks the other end of the Hispanic
experience in Baltimore. The 27 year old came to Baltimore from El Salvador two years ago and has been working any odd jobs he can muster. He has not been able to find work for two days now and stands waiting in the rain without a slicker. “I miss my family,” says Carlos, who has two children. His voice is muffled by what seems to be a harsh cold and quite possibly a sinus infection. “I think I will only be here three years more and then go back [to El Salvador]. I don’t want to stay here.” But day labor and marginal existence don’t represent the overall Hispanic experience in Baltimore, and certainly not their aspirations. The Hispanics
of Upper Fells Point and the surrounding neighborhoods have firmly put their cultural imprint on the community. Baltimoreans may or may not come to speak of “Spanish Town” as familiarly as they do of Little Italy, but families like the Ramoses intend to stay. “We won’t go back to Mexico,” Cristobalina Ramos says. “We will probably be here the rest of our lives.”
INGENUITY AS A MATTER OF PRACTICE.
Este artículo puede ser encontrado en español en www.urbanitebaltimore.com.
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by adrienne noonan
photography by paul burk
The Baltimore Style A Mount Washington bungalow reflects the city’s influence on interior design
In a city famous for rowhouses and marble steps, a particular interior style has taken root. The style lives in the generous space that exists between Hon kitsch and Baltimore’s haute old guard. It is marked by casual elegance and a sense of humor, a bold use of color, and a pastiche of modern, antique, and homemade. A population of working artists unquestionably influences this aesthetic: Baltimore has long been an artistic haven, and that creative energy seems to permeate city life. Fueled by an astonishing variety of affordable housing stock within the city limits (not to mention stellar local art and furniture sources), Baltimore style is less about imposing a
clearly defined interior philosophy and more about individuals curating their own space. The home of painter James Rieck and graphic designer Judy Lichtman exemplifies that comfortable eclecticism found throughout the city. Since moving into their 1930s bungalow in Mount Washington last year, both have been hard at work putting their particular stamp of stylish good taste and cheeky wit on the place. Their synthesis of wellchosen thrift shop finds, mid-century period furniture, and handcrafted pieces creates a syncretic, yet choreographed look very much representative of Baltimore style.
When Rieck and Lichtman first arrived in Baltimore in the mid-1980s, they made their homes in a variety of rentals around town: a 10,000-squarefoot warehouse on Baltimore Street and an assortment of apartments around midtown; each place individualized with a large dose of humor and refined design sensitivity. After decamping to San Franciso, where they lived for 12 years, the couple returned east, in part because they missed the seasons, and in part because of the quality of life unique to Baltimore. “When we moved back, we were committing to Baltimore and knew it,” says Rieck.
Many friends on both coasts were surprised by their carefully considered move. “Baltimore is a very bohemian city, far more bohemian than San Francisco was when we left in 2000,” Rieck says. “The city is unapologetic in its identity. So far, Baltimore hasn’t tried to compare itself to other cities; in fact, it’s the perfect antidote to D.C. My artwork has been more interesting since we came back.” Economically, Rieck says, Baltimore is a comfortable place to live for working artists and designers. “We have friends in New York whose studios are their laps. Here, we can have the luxury of our own studios and offices, as well as a spacious home,” says Rieck, who also teaches painting at the Corcoran College of Art+Design. He cites Baltimore’s prime location as a major benefit, with Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York all within an easy drive. It’s no surprise that graphic sensibility and color define the house. Lichtman and her sister Ellen (also Lichtman) are principals of Six Ink, a graphic and web design firm with offices in Baltimore and San Francisco. Rieck incorporates bold graphic images, retail advertising, and pop-culture references prominently into his paintings, which seem to exude a slightly unsettling, subversive air. An appealing feature of their home is a 1980s addition with a wooden cathedral ceiling, used by previous owners as a studio. Within the addition is a space nicknamed the Tahoe Room, which strikes May Urbanite 3/28/05 aNOU-2005-0060 contemporary contrast to the intimate scale 10:51 of the AM
home’s other rooms. “We fell in love with the ceiling, but then needed to find a way to tone down all of that wood,” says Rieck. Not afraid of color, the couple primed over the multicolored “party brick” fireplace and gave it a coat of vibrant “spectrum blue,” drawing the eye upward to the ceiling. Ample wall space and natural light complement the bold images and large scale of Rieck’s work and that of local artists such as Kate MacKinnon, Alex Kondner, Jason Head, Dennis Farber, Jason Urban, Steve Pauley, and Christine Bailey. “The house is very much like Baltimore. It’s a little old cottage that’s been continually added onto. From the street, you would never know its depth,” says Rieck. “Like Baltimore, it appears to be one way on the face, but inside it’s another.” p.45 45 p.
Opposite page: Left: Milk bottles from Rieck Dairy, owned by Jim’s greatgrandfather, line the kitchen windowsill. Middle: A bright blue fireplace in the Tahoe Room Right: Cookies, painted by James Rieck This page: Top: A Chambers oven from the 1950s Middle: Ted’s Cold Weather Choice, painted by James Rieck Bottom: A collection of more than 100 snow globes Page 1
Originality comes simply from Nouveau. Interior design service available.
what’s next. Canton: 410.342.7666 Belvedere Square: 410.962.8248 nouveaubaltimore.com w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
by jason tinney
photograph by helen sampson
M E E T B A LT I M O R E ’ S B O T A N I C A L M I N U T E M E N
In the great tradition of calling upon volunteers to defend our city, Baltimore summons its citizens to join the fray once more against an insidious foe. The enemies lurk, creep, and climb, are multifaced and move rapidly. Don’t be fooled by alluring names like the enticing Japanese Honeysuckle, or the inviting Tree of Heaven. They are covers (literally) and are also known by their more sinister scientific names: Lonicera japonica and Ailanthus altissima. They are part of the “dirty dozen,” a foreign axis of “nonnative invasives” or—as they are more commonly known—weeds. Urban Weed Warriors (UWW) is a new volunteer program sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks and funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The one-day, two-hour training program is designed to teach volunteers how to identify and remove invasive weeds that are destroying the native flora and vegetation in our city’s parklands. These weeds disrupt the ecosystem and threaten biodiversity. According to the literature provided in the UWW’s training package, “Invasive weeds are taking over public lands at the rate of 4,300 acres a day … to say that a war is being waged against invasive alien plants … across the U.S. is no exaggeration!” A “non-native invasive” is fairly self-explanatory: It’s a foreign plant species introduced to a region outside its normal range. How these non-natives arrived in Baltimore is a tangled story. “There are hundreds of ways,” says Janelle Burke, program
coordinator of Urban Weed Warriors. Some non-natives were brought into the United States unknowingly hundreds of years ago by settlers. Others were introduced intentionally: The dense shrubbery and thorns of Multiflora Rose were promoted by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service as a “living fence” to confine livestock. And English Ivy, the most common of the dirty dozen, is still used today for home and garden ornamentation. “Ivy is sold in the nurseries,” says Anne Draddy, manager of the Jones Falls HikerBiker Trail. “You can buy ivy anywhere. People plant it and it escapes into the parks.” Winding through the back roads of Druid Hill Park in a Baltimore City Jeep, Burke and Draddy take me on a tour of the battlefield. We stop at a Weed Warrior training site. Burke points out Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven), and warns that cutting it down is not the solution. “If you cut down an Ailanthus tree, it knows that it is dying and it will send up ‘suckers.’” Suckers appear to be new seedlings, but are actually growths attached to a hardy, pre-existing root. Burke suggests using an herbicide to eradicate this menace. The Urban Weed Warriors have targeted their pilot efforts on three watersheds: Gwynns Falls, Jones Falls, and Herring Run. Once the training is complete, volunteers are certified to work on their own or participate in group weed-pulls organized by UWW in conjunction with the three nonprofits overseeing these city watershed associations. We travel across town and I ask about how invasives feel about pollution. “Oh, they like it,” says Burke. The excess of nitrogen and phosphates in waste are two elements that allow these non-natives to thrive. But what invasives really thrive on is sunlight, and in an urban setting, with the disturbance caused by development, fighting them is a war of attrition. “It’s an even bigger battle in an urban environment,” says Burke. “We have a lot more light, which weeds are more adapted for—native species aren’t.” At the Windsor Mills Conservation Trail, part of the Gwynns Falls Watershed, the Kudzu, which has been nicknamed “the vine that ate the South” by botanical experts, twists and wraps through the branches of the native oaks and maples, strangling and blocking out the sun. But what the Kudzu doesn’t know is that the volunteers have been called and they’re coming. And they plan to stay the course. “Volunteers don’t want to start a project and make a little dent,” Burke says. “They want to see the progress over a couple of years.” p. 45 —Jason Tinney wrote about spoken word poetry group the 5th L in the April issue. Urban Weed Warrior Janelle Burke
Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune
THE DIRTY DOZEN Asiatic Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) This ornamental vine is still widely sold for landscaping purposes despite its invasive qualities. It aggressively attacks vegetation at all heights, completely covering and killing plants. English Ivy (Hedera helix) Another vine that says it comes in peace. But it’s a liar!
by Terrence McNally
I want to drown in this woman. I want to die here. So why is she talking about parakeets and meatloaf?
May 20 – June 26, 2005 Previews May 17, 18, 19 Baltimore Premiere Tuesdays through Sundays Ticket prices: $15–$28 Box Ofﬁce: 410-752-2208
– Johnny, Act I
www.everymantheatre.org 1727 N. Charles St., Balt., MD 21201
Contains nudity and adult themes. Photo of Deborah Hazlett by Stan Barouh.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) This disruptive herb was first recorded on Long Island around 1868. Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) This vine dates back to the 1800s and is an evergreen that can grow while other plants are dormant. It has invaded at least thirty-eight states in the U.S. Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) This herb is a survivor, capable of persisting through deep shade, high temperatures, and drought. Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum) This herb was introduced in Tennessee around 1919. It most likely established itself in sixteen other eastern states (from New York to Florida) because it was used as packing material for porcelain. Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) The “vine that ate the South” can extend 60 feet per season, at a rate of 1 foot per day. Mile-a-Minute (Polygonum perfoliatum) This appropriately named vine, which can grow 20 feet in a single day, was experimentally introduced in Beltsville, Maryland, in 1937. Multiﬂ ora Rose (Rosa multiﬂora) A thorny shrub promoted by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in the 1930s to combat erosion and confine livestock. Porcelain Berr y (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) Though attractive with its purple berries, this vine spreads quickly and shades out native shrubs and young trees.
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Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) A foul villain—literally. This “tree” can reach heights of 80 feet or more and is often recognized by its odor. Wineberr y (Rubus phoenicolasius) The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have a great suggestion on how to control Wineberry: Don’t plant it! —J.T.
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Finding Cina and Young Many artists have successfully captured Baltimore— its vibrant neighborhoods, distinctive waterfront, and diverse citizenry. But graphic design duo Michael Young and Mike Cina, principals of WeWorkForThem, are trying a different approach: depicting none of the above. Their recently released DVD, titled Finding Eutaw and North, is described on their website as an “ambient architectural interpretation of the mean streets of Baltimore City.” The 34-minute animated sequence has no images of the tugboats on the harbor in the morning, no festive shots of the Monument lit at night. What remains is Young’s vivid reaction to his adopted hometown of three years: Baltimore’s buildings become undulating, rotating planes, the community an audio track of sounds of children and traffic, and its background, still shots from surfaces sampled from the area around Young’s home. “It’s not so much the visual in Baltimore that has really inspired us,” says 27-year-old Young from his sleek basement office, where Minnesota-based Cina, 34, is chiming in via speakerphone. “It’s the mood, the lifestyle, the ideas, the language.” This thoughtful, ambient vibe sets WeWorkForThem’s work apart from many of their graphic design peers, particularly those in traditional design meccas like New York and San Francisco. With worldwide speaking engagements and a client roster that includes VH1, ESPN, and Hewlett Packard, the talented team has produced complex animated web ads for iPod and massive print pieces for product launches. Their high-profile work and numerous awards have made the five-year-old firm a household name to many San Francisco and New York design-
ers, who respect and admire the duo for their willingness to push the boundaries of traditional design. “Often studios come off as just a series of marketing buzz words in an attempt to get the flavor-ofthe-month, youth-culture-cool project,” says Matt Owens, founder of New York City design studio Volumeone Design. “WeWorkForThem focuses on making work they believe in, and, as a result, find like-minded clients.” Despite their commercial success, or perhaps because of it, Cina and Young balk at a too-close association with traditional graphic design. “Everyone is riding on the backs of others and not setting their own vision,” the partners stated in a 2002 interview. “We like trying new things, even if we fail sometimes. Those failures are a lot more rewarding than doing something that has been done a thousand times before.” For this reason, it’s the work they do for themselves—work like Finding Eutaw and North—that really gets their creative juices flowing. Young began the project by recording school kids talking outside his window in the afternoons. Cina mixed the audio while Young ventured into neighborhoods like Reservoir Hill, capturing images and impressions. At Finding Eutaw and North’s first public performance in Valencia, Spain, one of the most impressive features went unnoticed: The software used to do the mixing was entirely custom-made. Dissatisfied with existing design programs, Cina and Young have developed architecturally driven, user-friendly interfaces that now make up the bulk of sales from their online store, YouWorkForThem. com. Curated “as if it were an art gallery,” the store was what originally sparked Cina and Young’s deci-
photography by karen patterson
A high-profile graphic design team rethinks digital design sion to start a company. “We saw it as a way to get our work out there,” Young says. The two art-school dropouts found one another over the Internet. Cina, freelancing for televangelist Billy Graham in Minneapolis, was intrigued by the work that Young, at design firm Vir2L in Rockville, had posted on the Web. Soon, the two were bouncing design innovations off one another. “We talked about the idea of doing a store, but we didn’t have the money to do it,” Young says. In 2000, they took the plunge anyway. Client work paid the bills until they could get the store up and running. They only had to seek out one client: MSN, for whom they helmed a rebranding campaign and then “everything else was word of mouth,” Cina says. This team’s understated success (“We’re not Prada,” Cina says.) has afforded the duo the right to experiment, which is exactly the way they like it. Their current project, a re-envisioning of the story of creation, debuted at Canada’s Flash in the Can festival in April. Unlike the animation and still photos used to create the team’s earlier projects, this DVD is shot on video. The first scene is footage of a Baltimore road from a camera mounted in the trunk of Young’s car. “We don’t think of it as literally drawing inspiration,” Young says of his and Cina’s approach to design. “Our work reflects things we experience.” —Alice Ockleshaw wrote about building with strawbale in the April issue.
Above left: WeWorkForThem’s Michael Young Above right: A still from Finding Eutaw and North
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MAN ON THE STREET TA K E A D R I V E T H R O U G H B A LT I M O R E W I T H A R C H I T E C T U R E E X P E R T M A R T I N M O E L L E R
Pa u l
Martin Moeller knows buildings like Robert Parker knows wine. As the senior vice president for special projects at the National Building Museum, and for a period its acting chief operating officer, Moeller offers a unique vision of the whole architectural field. Before joining the National Building Museum in 1998, Moeller led the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and before that served as executive director of the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and executive vice president of the chapterâ€™s affiliated foundation, the Washington Architectural Forum. He has written, edited, and designed hundreds of publications. Later this year, the Johns Hopkins University Press will publish the fourth edition of his AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. On a Friday in early spring, Moeller toured the city with Urbanite. He spent hours looking at neighborhoods all over Baltimore, casting his expert eye on our built environment. Here are his observations.
On Baltimore: Opposite: Rowhomes on Linden Avenue in Reservoir Hill
In Locust Point, Baltimore’s industrial past hovers behind a new residential development.
Baltimore is amazing. I love Washington, D.C., and I live in a great neighborhood, but I’ve been in the car—what, fifteen minutes?—and I’ve already seen more historic buildings with incredible architectural character than Washington has in the entire city. Baltimore is much more freewheeling. You see slightly crazy things that are quite magnificent. I just don’t understand how anybody ever could have abandoned these kinds of neighborhoods. There’s a character to them. There’s a richness. There’s a texture that you just don’t see in the suburbs except in the most glorious ones where it’s all because of money and amazing landscaping. One of the reasons why Baltimore has such potential is because it is still a real city that is doing a lot of the same stuff it was doing a hundred years ago. There are still ships coming in [to your harbor]. It’s really cool to watch the ships come in and out. There are many other cities where the commerce has changed so dramatically that you can’t really have the city working the same way that it used to. Here, you absolutely can. You can have it all: You can have luxury housing right next to working-class housing. Buildings change over time. They go through cycles. Sometimes they’re up, sometimes they’re down. They get used for entirely unexpected purposes, things that their builders could never have imagined. That’s natural. It’s part of the process. You want to make sure that drastic and regrettable things don’t happen or that you lose a detail or a material that can’t be replaced. It’s okay for things to get additions, for streets to be widened and narrowed. It gives you layers of meaning and visual interest in cities that you don’t have otherwise. On Baltimore rowhomes:
The renovation at Woodberry’s burnedout Clipper Mill incorporates the original structure into new condominium and office space.
One of the great things about Baltimore rowhouse neighborhoods is the variety, which Washington also has. This particular block is just fascinating for a variety of reasons. Look at the bays on the second and third floors: They don’t line up with the rhythm of the structural bays on the first floor. There’s a continuous porch tying together the lower levels, but it’s set back, with the second and third floors projecting. And look at the very unusual window patterns up on the third floor. This is incredible. It’s a really odd architectural composition and it works because it’s just so interesting. Someone really had fun with this. They’re so—and I mean it in the best way—they’re so odd. And then just one block away, you get very chaste, almost Federal-style houses. On public space:
“ These are just so cool,” Moeller says of these Reservoir Hill rowhouses.
At Heritage Crossing, broad and winding streets are a marked departure from the traditional urban-grid streetplan.
One of the things that fascinates me about cities is the complex series of layers between the front door of the house and the street. There’s a lot that happens—a series of distinct zones there. For example, even though the line of the houses is often this flat plane, all the stoops coming out imply a zone of personal space that isn’t really there. As a result, you don’t fall into this whole “defensible space” trap—this disastrous idea that, “If we just wall things off, people will stop selling drugs and committing crimes.” Instead, what they do is make pockets where people could do it more clandestinely. In New Orleans, in the Garden District, for example, houses tend to have front yards that are private but are visually permeable. You don’t have walls; you have fences. There’s a tree canopy that shades the private yards, as well as the main street. It all works together even though the space is clearly divided. The gate is not going to keep anybody out who really wants to get in, but there’s a perception of privacy and personal space that doesn’t cut off the visual flow or the flow of people. What I’m more concerned about is a place where a huge fence runs along the property and it says, “You’re not allowed to go between these places.” And the streets don’t run through. It’s uncomfortable, and it deadens the area because it becomes an enclave—it really doesn’t matter whether the fence is intended to keep people out or in. Establishing appropriate connections between private and public space starts with the plan. Nowadays, there’s this suspicion that simple, good, old-fashioned, urban streets somehow do not work, and that suspicion makes no sense. It’s something that has worked happily all over the world. It works well here. This fear of true urban streets arises in new development for whatever reason, be it monetary or the developer’s insistence on something being roped off or gated. Put the streets through. Imply that there is continuity. Make sure that the new development is an integral part of the city.
Rowhouses lining a Baltimore neighborhood include fencing that implies privacy without cutting off the homes from the street.
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On neighborhoods with high vacancy rates:
Looking east on the 900 block of West Baltimore Street, vacant lots and empty buildings sit in close proximity to downtown.
Vacant lots offer opportunities for creative infill architecture.
People will look at a decrepit area and assume that it’s some old concept about cities that doesn’t work anymore. But in fact, it has nothing to do with that. The idea of streets, a grid, this kind of texture—this is a little juncture here [on West Baltimore Street] where you’ve got the classic bank, the corner store, maybe an old theater at one point—all of the key elements are still here. There’s actually some architecture here. There are little details. A lot of people would say, “Well, this isn’t great architecture,” and it’s absolutely true. But, what that doesn’t take into account is the texture, and it’s not the same if you just preserve the facades. Part of the texture is the depth of the buildings, what’s going on behind the facades. It’s the scale that you can’t replicate because you wouldn’t build it the same way today. You’d have to build it to different standards. This is terrific. It’s real. It’s got character. Now here’s the flipside of the coin: What they’re likely to do in this [West Baltimore] neighborhood that has great texture but doesn’t have a lot of brilliant architecture—they’re likely to come in and try to do new stuff that pretends to look like the old stuff. And, what I would argue is: You don’t have a fragile, historical architectural context here. You could do really inventive, modern work right in the middle of these older buildings. There are lots where you could have spectacular, glassy infill, for instance. You could do all sorts of innovative things with different materials. Original storefronts on West Baltimore It’s the whole contributing/noncontributing argument—that is, whether an in- Street add texture and character to the dividual building is a vital “contributor” to a historic district. In so many cases, the neighborhood. answer to this question is a whole range of gray rather than a simple, black-and-white proposition. You have buildings that do contribute, even though they’re of no particular architectural value whatsoever, simply because they reinforce the scale and texture of the neighborhood. They’re part of the urban fabric. I always loved that term—“urban fabric”—because it implies that all these things are woven together. If you get a run in the fabric, a lot of stuff can rip, but conversely, fabric has built-in redundancy—a small snag does not threaten the entire piece of cloth. On revitalizing neighborhoods:
Heritage Crossing, a Hope VI project that replaced public housing towers, sold out, and sales exceeded expectations of the developer.
An incredibly important point is the complexity of what’s required for urban revitalization. It can’t just be a single piece of the puzzle. It’s got to be a lot of them. You’ve got to have a critical mass in terms of what’s changing. You, as a developer or landowner, have to have a sense that you’re not going to be the lone outpost. There’s got to be stuff to go to, be it the coffee shop or the corner store or whatever. There have to be urban amenities. Part of the thing about this area [Poppleton] is that it is almost entirely abandoned, which means basically, you’re not going to have the one homeowner come in and say, “Oh! I’ll be the pioneer and live next to all these building shells.” Maybe you’ll find someone willing to do that occasionally, but more likely, you’re going to need one big batch of money that converts a huge chunk of those buildings, if not all of them, all at once. But I’m not talking about old-style “urban renewal”—wholesale destruction of an existing neighborhood and replacement with something entirely new. In spite of the success of Heritage Crossing, I’m talking about selective, targeted infill and renovation. As much as possible, keep the development has yet to spur the restoration of neighboring rowhomes. what’s there, restore it skillfully, and then add exciting, beautiful, new architecture that reflects our current era. The result, then, is a true neighborhood that reflects the full history of the community and implies optimism about the future. On recent new construction:
“Could be anywhere,” Moeller says of new housing in the Little Italy neighborhood.
[These townhouses] could be anywhere. I’ve certainly seen worse, as far as that sort of thing goes, but it just suggests this preconception that people all want the same kind of place to live. I don’t understand that. A lot of people like the idea of the house that’s just a funky, little, different thing. A lot of people would go for a neighborhood where there is an interweaving of new and old. You get a sense of layers of history. [American urbanist author] Jane Jacobs said that, in cities that work, you’ve got a range of buildings from different eras. When you’ve got a neighborhood with a critical mass of the old stuff, it can handle the new stuff. Now what can ruin a neighborhood is a gross change in scale. Suddenly you put a 10-story building in here and that’s a problem. But it doesn’t have to use the same materials as the old buildings. It doesn’t have to be the same style. Rather, there should be what I would call a consistency in the level of visual interest. It doesn’t have to replicate [historic details or construction methods]. It can’t, in fact, replicate because part of the thing about architecture of the
When historic preservation isn’t an issue, “you could do really inventive, modern work,” Moeller observes.
nineteenth century in particular, and even part of the twentieth century, is that it’s very much an architecture of depth, because that’s how they had to build. Many premodern structural systems required relatively thick walls, for instance, meaning that windows often seemed to be set deeply into the façade. Modern structural systems often yield facades that are very thin, and I would argue that such systems warrant a different kind of architectural expression. The “New Urbanist” communities, as they’re called (which I have a problem with because they’re basically suburban communities) reflect a number of lessons learned—they’re absolutely better than typical suburban development—but for the most part, people in these communities still get in their cars and go someplace else to work. They get in their cars and go someplace else to shop. Retail is the real barometer of urban health. If you can go right to the corner or right down the street and get all the stuff you need, that’s a great sign of a true community. Other city best practices: I love New York, but it has a level of density and intensity that a lot of people just couldn’t take, and I understand that. So, take that out of the mix just because it’s only New York. But, Boston succeeds. New Orleans succeeds. Washington, to a great extent, succeeds. Basically, they’re places where there’s a good chunk of people who live in an area where they don’t have to have a car. The pedestrian aspect is not the be-all and end-all, but it’s such an important signifier because it tells you that you’ve got density. You’ve got a mix of uses, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to live without a car because you couldn’t get to the grocery. You tend to have a level of vibrancy, but it’s not so obnoxiously intense that people can’t go about their work and go about their daily routines. You’ve got a lot of people in one place. One thing that Baltimore hasn’t quite escaped is parking. You need a public transit system that’s acceptable to the middle class. There isn’t very much of it here.
courtesy of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
Developer Metroventures found off-street parking a priority for their clientele, so they designed rear-access garages to keep street fronts pedestrian-friendly.
On development: One of the things Baltimore has in a great way over, say, Washington is that because the demand for real estate is not so extreme, you can have things gradually improve. “De-slumming” is what Jane Jacobs calls it. Of course in this country today, we seem to have to a problem with the happy medium—we tend to have either broad abandonment or drastic, rapid renewal, rather than gradual, thoughtful rejuvenation of urban areas. Development tends to happen—anywhere, not just in Baltimore—either on a very small scale: an individual or a family that’s working on a house, for example—or at a very large scale because it makes economic sense. Development and contracting companies tend to become bigger and more efficient and it’s easier for large firms to do large projects. So you have this middle zone, a scale of project where a lot of good could be done, a lot of redevelopment could happen that could trigger development in multiple places, but there’s no one to do it efficiently. What the city can do is this: Find a way to encourage the kind of development that happens in that middle zone. What if the city could intervene and talk to the big developers who are in a position to do a huge project but help them turn that one project into five or ten smaller ones that benefit multiple neighborhoods all at once? Thus, they still have the advantage of economy of large scale. They can still build the same number of units. They can invest the same amount of money and expect the same sort of return. But if it’s been easier for them to avoid the hassles that come from working in multiple places at the same time, they might actually be able to do that with a similar level of efficiency and make the same amount of money.
Homebuyers are attracted to the rehab potential of Baltimore’s historic housing stock.
A true mixed‑use neighborhood with a balance of housing, commerce, culture, and public space, Mount Vernon enjoys a vibrant streetlife.
A lot of the issues that I think this tour is raising come back to one point—it’s a paradox that people want to live in clean, safe cities, but they also, deep down, want to live in urban areas that are, by their nature—to pick up on a term that was used by the architect Robert Venturi—“messy and vital.” With messy vitality, you don’t always know what you’re going to experience. You meet someone new on the street and then the next day, you meet a different person—there are surprises. These are the things that give meaning and interest to urban life, that life in the suburbs, I think, often tends to deny people. It is a paradox because messy vitality, if it gets too messy, then it probably becomes unsafe and unclean. And if it’s too vital, then you can’t sleep. But there are a lot of cities that have achieved a happy medium.
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Picking Poppleton A sweeping urban renewal plan S T R I V E S T O R E M A K E W E S T B A LT I M O R E
B u r k
M itr o
H o o d
photo by Mitro Hood
Left: Sonia and Curtis Eaddy’s home in Poppleton Above: The Eaddy family (from left): Curtis, Sonia, Mykel, Malika, Brian, Curtis Jr., Cullen (holding Blue, the dog), Munira, and Djae
During a tour of Sonia and Curtis Eaddy’s 1890s rowhome, the conversation quickly turns to plaster. “They just don’t make it like they used to,” Curtis says, staring at the ceiling. When the Eaddys purchased this house in the 300 block of North Carrollton Street in 1992, the original crown molding was just one of the historic details that the couple admired. Ceiling medallions of intricate plaster were crumbling from neglect, but Curtis did his best to restore the original architectural work while blending in new construction. Sitting in the living room, the Eaddy’s talk about their love affair with historic preservation. Outside, a heavy spring rain slaps against the front windows and a green light, the atmospheric wonder that often accompanies change-of-season thunderbursts, makes the linen-yellow interior of their home feel that much warmer. Vintage furniture decorates the room and Blue, their Shepherd puppy, sleeps in a ball on the polished hardwood floor. We often hear the stories of people like the Eaddys who went in against the odds to reclaim the architectural wonders of a neighborhood and in doing so revivified a moribund area. These individuals saw potential in trash-filled lots and the ghostly shells of vacant homes, and ignored the cynics who insisted declining city neighborhoods don’t recover. Sonia and Curtis Eaddy had a vision for Poppleton. And now, after many years of lovingly detailed labor—updating the kitchen and installing porcelain tile, uncovering slate fireplaces, stripping and refinishing all the original trim—the Eaddy’s three-story West Baltimore house is well under way to becoming a showcase of urban revitalization. Five months ago, the City of Baltimore said it wants to tear it down.
Ev itt s
photo by Mitro Hood
In November of 2004, the City Council, with the support of the Poppleton Village Community Development Corporation and the Village Center of Poppleton, passed an urban renewal amendment to take by eminent domain 526 properties on a U‑shaped, 13.8-acre parcel of land. According to the bill, the properties, which include those of both homeowners and renters, are being acquired and disposed of for clearance and redevelopment of new housing. This plan is part of an expansive urban renewal vision for West Baltimore, which is bordered by West Mulberry to the north, Martin Luther King Boulevard to the east, West Pratt Street to the south and North Carey Street to the west. After an expedited three-month search, Baltimore Housing (made up of the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Housing Authority) announced last month that it plans to partner with New York-based La Cité Development, a company with a radical vision for Poppleton that includes capitalizing on the celebrity of Susan L. Taylor, editorial director of Essence magazine and a principal in La Cité. This is the first project for the company in Baltimore, and the first development of this scale for the newly formed corporation. Community members and preservation advocates are questioning the removal of so much historic housing stock just blocks from downtown. They argue that the hot real estate market for city housing, coupled with incentives for homeowners and a smart approach for large investors, could spark a revitalization of West Baltimore without mass clearance—the sort of rebirth represented by the Eaddys. Poppleton raises the tough question of what to do with struggling urban neighborhoods: When do you rehab and when do you rebuild?
photo by Mitro Hood
photo by Mitro Hood
The Eaddys restored the plaster ceiling medallion in their entry hall.
Blue, the puppy, stands in the renovated kitchen where a new tile floor was designed and installed by Sonia.
U rban R enewal : T ake O ne By the 1850s, West Baltimore was a diverse neighborhood with a mix of workingclass and wealthy residents and a breadth of architectural styles. The infamous Boss Kelly, who ran the West Baltimore Democratic Club in the early 1900s, made his home on West Saratoga Street. H.L. Mencken lived there. So did Edgar Allen Poe. Decline began when the middle class gradually succumbed to the siren song of the emerging suburbs, and the deterioration was expedited by the first wave of government-funded urban renewal thirty years ago: high-rise public housing went up, Route 40 bifurcated Poppleton, and the realigning of traffic along Martin Luther King Boulevard blocked its Eastern border. Sonia Eaddy, 40, grew up in Poppleton and remembers when the neighborhood was still vibrant. She and her cousins would walk to the corner store to buy sunflower seeds and gather in front of their grandfather’s house to play jacks and hopscotch. “One thing about growing up in the inner city: You could sit out on the front stoop and somebody’s always walking by,” she says. Sonia and Curtis moved out of Poppleton to raise their young children. As the children grew older, the family of seven began looking for a new home. The Eaddy’s had a choice of where to live. They hunted in the county, but Sonia didn’t much like the suburbs. “It was too secluded,” she says. She decided it was time to come home. “This block was just always special to me,” Sonia says of Carrollton Street, and she and Curtis bought the house in
1992. For years they rented to tenants and worked on the rehab before they moved in two years ago. People told Sonia she was crazy to come back. Her aunt, who still lives in Poppleton, warned her of the vacant houses and the police helicopters circling at night. But Sonia believed in the neighborhood. “People want to move back into the city and they want to buy houses,” Sonia says. “It will push crime away, because you will have home ownership again.” Just down the street from the Eaddys, Tony Brown has lived his entire life in the same house. Brown also has fond childhood memories of Poppleton when it was a working-class community, but he says his neighborhood is suffering. He believes the impact of Route 40 construction was an especially hard blow. “The community really started to change when they built that ‘highway to nowhere,’ because it moved a lot of people out,” Brown says. In 1990, Poppleton was named an empowerment zone and the federally funded program created the nonprofit Village Center of Poppleton on West Baltimore Street to increase economic stability and job opportunities for the community. Tony Brown joined the Village Center about six years ago and helped create the mass clearance plan for Poppleton. His own house is slated for demolition. “Developers don’t want to do a ton of rehab, and here, we have a lot of vacant land. It’s better to tear down and rebuild,” Brown says. “I’m one of the community leaders, and I still have to sacrifice like everyone else.” w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
U rban R enewal : T ake T wo If the first wave of urban renewal thirty years ago was spurred by big, government-funded projects—housing towers, stadiums, highways, and convention centers—the second wave is happening in the name of developer-driven housing. Across the city, pockets of housing and parcels of land are being amassed through programs like Project 5000 (Baltimore Housing’s effort to return 5,000 vacant and abandoned properties to productive use), and being made available for private, market-driven development. The City says this is a new approach that moves away from the overly subsidized projects of the past and opens up the city to growth. Some neighborhoods will be slated for creative infill and rehabilitation, while other areas, like East Baltimore and Poppleton, will be marketed to developers for large-scale projects predicated on clearance. This is part of the City’s efforts to play to the strengths of the housing market. “We want market discipline in all these projects,” says Douglass Austin, Deputy Commissioner for Development for Baltimore Housing. “We don’t want to be doing things that can only happen if we’re heavily subsidizing the entire development.” Poppleton presents an intriguing opportunity for new development because it offers, potentially, a large plot of contiguous land. The City already owns, or is in the process of owning, 358 of the 526 properties in the clearance area. Once the remaining properties are purchased by the City, the entire plot would be turned over for private development. Several other factors aligned to make Poppleton ripe for redevelopment. The University of Maryland recently jumped across Martin Luther King Boulevard to expand its campus with a new Biotech Center. Large tracts of land for development became available when public housing towers were imploded in the 1990s. The property was redeveloped with two mixed-income Hope VI townhome developments. Meanwhile, Metroventures, a Baltimore-based development company, has had surprising success with their new Camden Crossing project in the neighboring Washington Village Empowerment Zone. The neo-traditional marketrate houses developed on an 8-acre brownfield site sold out in 30 days at prices higher than expected. The average went for $250,000, and 65% of the new homeowners are transplants from D.C. suburbs. “Baltimore is becoming an alternative to Washington, D.C.,” says Suzanne Graham, Metroventure’s vice president. “We looked at communities in Alexandria, Virginia, for example, and produced something of quality that would attract a 35-to-45 professional market. With the competition, you have to build what people want to buy.” What the market wants, many say, are amenities not available in existing city houses. Consultant Rachel Edds is a former Baltimore City planner who worked with the community to consider how a housing plan could fit into its
revitalization. She helped draft the Poppleton Housing Strategy for the Empowerment Baltimore Management Corporation, a report that notes the high number of D.C. commuters looking to Baltimore as a bedroom community. “The market is in the right place to get people into Poppleton,” Edds says. “But you have to provide people who have a choice of where to live with the amenities they want, like garages and larger kitchens. Some people just want a new house.” “A bedroom community for D.C. is a suburb,” says Roberta Brandes Gratz. Gratz, an award-winning journalist and urban critic who sits on Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, has spent her professional life studying cities that have successfully revived and writing about them in books like The Living City: How America’s Cities are Being Revitalized by Thinking Small in a Big Way. “If Baltimore wants to be its own city instead of a stepchild to Washington, than this is absolutely the wrong way to go.” Replacing old housing with new because “that’s what the market wants” is another myth Gratz says needs to be dispelled. “The market clearly shows that there are scores of people like the Eaddys gravitating daily to retrieve genuine urban housing, and you are certainly seeing that in Baltimore with the accelerating prices of your existing housing and the people moving into your regenerating neighborhoods where that housing exists.” Baltimore City has a different vision. In July 2004, the same month that the urban renewal amendment was introduced to the City Council, Baltimore Housing issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to seek developers capable of navigating a wide-scale development of vacant land. The RFQ said the City would use its full authority to acquire all properties within the 13.8-acre area and offer the site to developers for new, high-quality housing. It called for a “marketdriven project that includes a small percentage of affordable units” aimed at attracting residents in the competitive regional marketplace. The urban renewal amendment for Poppleton, which did not officially pass the City Council until November 2004, says the clearance will happen to create “substantial affordable housing” while “promoting historic and architectural preservation.” Of the 526 properties to be acquired for clearance, the City estimates that roughly 134 are occupied. Some forty houses are owner-occupied while ninety-six are rental properties. (The City says it will work with any displaced homeowners who want to relocate back into the neighborhood.) The language of the two documents has clear discrepancies about the purpose for taking and clearing the Poppleton properties. Austin says that the balance between affordable versus market-rate housing in the new development has yet to be decided. A city housing official involved in the project, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that sections of the renewal amendment language were incorrect and must have been left over from prior amendment proposals.
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The Poppleton redevelopment site. Blocks outlined in red are slated for demoltion.
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The Sarah Ann Alley houses in Poppleton, designated an “endangered building type” in Baltimore, are slated for destruction.
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photo by Paul Burk
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photo by Paul Burk
Rehab or rebuild? High vacancy rates in Poppleton pose both a challenge and an opportunity.
By the time the renewal amendment officially passed the City Council on November 4, five development teams had already responded to the City’s RFQ, which had a deadline of October 28. Respondents included Enterprise Homes, Inc., Pennrose Development Company, and La Cité Development. The massive scale of clearance outlined in the bill took preservationists and some community members by surprise, and the specific list of properties slated for demolition sparked serious concern. “We found out about the city’s urban renewal plan last fall and we had not known anything about what was going on,” says Johns Hopkins, executive director of Baltimore Heritage, a nonprofit historic and architectural preservation organization. The City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), now under the umbrella of the Baltimore City Department of Planning, had been called in late to the game and did not release its initial findings from a Poppleton Historic Resource Survey until December 1, 2004. “They were a bit of an afterthought,” said a city official in Baltimore Housing who wished to remain anonymous. CHAP surveyed the clearance area and found that properties marked for demolition included the Boss Kelly rowhomes on West Saratoga Street and the Sarah Ann Alley Houses, a fully occupied set of homes that represent “an endangered building type” in Baltimore. They identified properties that are eligible for listing on the National Register and the Baltimore City Landmark list, and they noted that a National Historic Landmark (the Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum on Amity Street), while not slated for demolition, borders the clearance zone. Baltimore Housing says that it is reviewing CHAP’s findings and considering amending the list of clearance properties. The CHAP report raises serious questions as to how this urban renewal plan will be financed. If any federal funding is used in the clearance of a recognized historic area, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is triggered, which requires federal agencies to review projects where their funds or actions could have an impact on historic properties. Austin says that Section 106 won’t be an issue because “we’re not going to use federal funds for any demolition or the acquisition or the relocation,” but he also admits that the City does not have the estimated $6.8 million to buy the remaining properties and relocate residents. “We don’t have enough out of our own coffers to cover this with everything else that we’re doing,” Austin says. An official at Baltimore Housing speaking anonymously said that it would be difficult to acquire the remaining properties without some federal assistance. In spite of the questions over preservation and funding, the City is moving forward quickly. Baltimore Housing announced in April that after a careful review of all respondents to the Poppleton RFQ, the most qualified was La Cité Development, a New York company whose directors include Susan Tayor, editorial director of Essence magazine, a lifestyles publication with a circulation of over one million that profiled City Council President Sheila Dixon in its March 2005 issue.
The La Cité proposal for Poppleton not only committed $1 million toward the purchase of properties, it also offered a sharp departure from the current design trends popping up in nearby developments. “We didn’t want a cookie-cutter approach,” Austin says. “We think that we can really push the envelope in terms of what houses can sell for and what design standards could be applied.” La Cité plans to leverage Susan Taylor’s celebrity status and media connections to bring high-profile architecture to the neighborhood. Their team consists of Davis Brody Bond, a New York architectural firm, and WestPac Investments, a California-based developer. Their team also consists of the The Poppleton Village Community Development Corporation, which has a financial stake in the new housing project. While the Housing Department is quick to note that La Cité was selected based on its qualifications and that its housing concept is in no way final, it did say that the La Cité vision for the neighborhood is what sold the department on the firm. The proposal suggests high-density mid-rise buildings that will include a limited number of specialty units dubbed the “Susan Taylor Homes.” They will explore developing a series of “Christie Brinkley Homes” as well. The company’s proposal also says that La Cité is in conversations with Magic Johnson and Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund about bringing in their branded theaters and retail. “The Magic Johnson mall that sits on 125th Street in Harlem is a total Anywhere U.S.A. development,” Gratz says. “And to name housing after someone who has no connection to Baltimore is a real slap in the face to Baltimore.” La Cité would not go on record about specifics surrounding its future plans for Poppleton, stating that any definitive comments on the design or cost of the homes would be premature. “It is a brand-new concept for Baltimore, and the Susan Taylor and Christie Brinkley homes bring a fresh twist to the neighborhood,” says Claude Hitchcock, the company’s local attorney at Gordon Feinblatt. “We’re happy we’ve been chosen, but we’re very careful not to say more than the facts warrant at this time.” For her part, Sonia Eaddy is still trying to understand the facts. Because Poppleton community organizations were a part of the La Cité development team, they were not neutral in this debate. So while Sonia Eaddy was attending community meetings last winter to discuss with her neighbors the need to fight for their homes, the organizers of those meetings were already aligned with La Cité and working to rally their community for destruction. This kind of partnership is not unprecedented in City development, but it can impede residents from getting a full picture of the plans for their neighborhood. The community is usually represented on the City’s review board when selecting a developer during the RFQ process, but no one from the Poppleton community participated because their Community Development Corporation had a stake in one of the proposals. The City did not find an alternative way to represent the citizens’ views. Baltimore Housing would not release the names of selection committee members. “I’m not against urban renewal,” Eaddy says about this process. “You need people investing in the community. What I’m against is tearing down good, solid houses.” So is Roberta Brandes Gratz. “For any city today to condemn an owneroccupied house is nothing short of a travesty,” Gratz says. “The fact is, in sheer economic terms, this is wasteful and expensive. In social terms, it’s totally inappropriate for the regeneration of authentic place.” While the La Cité plan promises exciting, contemporary design and highconcept architecture, grafting large swaths of new development onto an historic urban neighborhood is often an untenable model that kills the true vibrancy of the city. “What they will create with this plan is an isolated island that will not connect or relate to the surrounding neighborhoods. It will not regenerate a neighborhood,” says Gratz. “You in Baltimore, you’re one of the stars of being smart way back, when you killed a highway coming through the city for all the right reasons,” Gratz adds. “Don’t forget the success of those dollar houses [that revitalized Otterbein in the 1970s].” The City says it will move forward quickly with Poppleton development. Now that La Cité has been selected, another round of conversations will begin with the community about specific plans for the housing and the possible salvage of historic structures. In the meantime, Sonia and Curtis Eaddy continue renovations on their home and wait to learn their fate. —Elizabeth A. Evitts is Urbanite’s Editor-in-Chief. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
Rethinking the Rowhome I n a city scattered with scaff olds , architects and developers promote the value o f sustainable rehabs .
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Above: An elevation of the Baltimore Green Vision Rowhouse, by TerraLogos Below: The Green Vision floor plan
Along with their historic charm, Baltimore’s signature rowhouses often come with less desirable features: poor insulation, outdated HVAC systems, and draft-prone windows that sap energy, drive up utility bills, and detract from residents’ health and comfort. Yet according to architect Julie E. Gabrielli, there’s no better model for sustainable design than the classic Baltimore rowhouse. “The great thing about rowhouses is, they’re inherently energy-efficient because of the party walls [that divide the houses],” she explains. A co-principal in the Hampden firm TerraLogos: Eco Architecture, PC, Gabrielli is pioneering the greening of rowhouse rehabilitations in Baltimore City. As a result of her efforts, the Maryland Energy Administration will begin a pilot program for city eco-rehabs this spring. Three years ago, Gabrielli drew up the Green Building Template for Rowhouse Renovation, funded by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA). Collaborating with DNR and MEA colleagues, she aimed to increase the energy efficiency of the typical Baltimore rowhouse, improve indoor air quality, and reduce consump-
tion of natural resources—all while ensuring easy home maintenance and keeping the initial costs of the renovation down. On this last point, Gabrielli states her findings bluntly: “We couldn’t get to any level of green without adding cost.” But her recommendations—and those initial outlays of cost—may come as a surprise. The first phase of recommended upgrades (Gabrielli calls it “light green”) consists largely of measures that any conscientious homeowner might take. Good cellulose insulation is added to the roof and exterior walls. High-quality glazed windows are installed, as are ceiling fans. Ducts are sealed; caulking is touched up. “Some people perceive ‘green’ as living in the side of a mountain,” observes Jim Hackler, program manager of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes program at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “But energy efficiency is green.” This “light green” package, Gabrielli’s data show, would raise the base cost of a $48,000 rehab by about 5% (a little more than $2,000). But it would yield annual energy savings of around 22%.
photo by Paul Burk
Savings increase dramatically when a house is remodeled to meet “medium” and “deep green” standards. Gabrielli’s “deep green” package includes a planted green roof (to cool the air in the house and extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere), solar tubes for heating water, and solar panels mounted on exterior walls. Together, these modifications would cut household energy costs by 72%, although the initial investment would be more substantial—an additional 43% on top of a base budget of $50,000 (about $22,000). Today, sustainable design “is often couched as something to save money,” notes Gabrielli. That logic seems to be finding favor within the building industry. According to USGBC figures, the number of new buildings meeting their LEED standards has jumped in recent years. Studies show that green design can lower operating costs for companies, and improve employee health and productivity. Most notably, it can raise property values: A study in The Appraisal Journal found that energy-efficiency upgrades can increase home values by more than the cost of the upgrade, especially with rising utility costs. The MEA, working with the firm Steven Winter Associates, expects to move forward this spring on a $150,000 pilot project based on Gabrielli’s template. Five existing houses will be renovated and three new townhouses will be built, all of them significantly above code. “During the design and construction, we’re going to have a series of workshops, so [designers and builders] can see what goes into something like this,” says the MEA’s assistant director, Walt Auburn. Auburn says he frequently gets calls from homeowners wanting advice on green design. “The interest is out there,” he says. “You still hear more about the consideration of green standards as related to new construction,” says Otis Rolley III, director of Baltimore City’s Planning Department. “But any opportunity to rehabilitate rowhouses in a green way is exciting.” Kim Schaefer, Gabrielli’s co-principal in TerraLogos, rehabbed her own Patterson Park rowhouse to a “medium green” level. So far, “the bills are coming out close to what the [template] model showed,” says Schaefer, who made extensive use of salvage materials in the house and added a sunroom to bring in natural light. TerraLogos isn’t alone in applying green techniques to rowhouse renovations. Developer Lindsey Bramwell is applying the sustainable rehab philosophy in the Washington Village neighborhood, also called Pigtown. “The goal is to have green rehabs in Pigtown, and jobs for green rehabbers,” she says of her new venture, The Green Pig, a combination gourmet café, yoga studio, and two apartment units in one solar-powered building. Together with her son and business partner, Bo, Bramwell is also renovating twelve derelict rowhouses on Callender and Reinhardt streets in the same neighborhood. “They’re the epitome of efficiency, these jewel-box houses,” Bramwell remarks of the one-bedroom properties. By installing solar panels and, in one house, a tankless hot-water heater, she and her five-person crew are “figuring out how green we can go without funding,” she says. Bramwell—who in late March said she was “in discussion” with TerraLogos about this project—expects to spend around $800,000 transforming 769
Lindsey Bramwell uses solar power in her Pigtown business.
Washington Boulevard into the Green Pig. She’s finding that sustainable design comes with a price tag. “It’s about $15,000 per unit for solar PV [photovoltaic panels],” she says. “But then there’s stuff you’re going to do anyway: ceramic floors in the kitchen and bathroom, high-performance glass.” The Green Pig is only part of Bramwell’s wider vision. “We’re going to be building a sustainable, green community,” she says. “We want to develop a reliance on renewable resources, and diminish our dependence on foreign fossil fuel.” For Gabrielli as well, taking the long view—or “thinking in terms of systems,” in her words—is crucial. She notes that more and more residential developers offer options like kitchen composters in their new houses, a sign that green is going mainstream. However, this “makes green design look like an à la carte choice,” she says. Gabrielli hopes for a more holistic approach. “The city’s an ecosystem,” she says. “Whether we know it or not.” p. 45
—Amanda Kolson Hurley lives in Baltimore and is the associate editor of Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Computer renderings of The Layer House, TerraLogos’s green house prototype w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m
A Conversation with Karrie Jacobs p r o p o s e d c h a n g e s t o HUD B y
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Architecture and design critic Karrie Jacobs has been writing about the built environment for eighteen years. She was the founding editor-in-chief of the popular shelter magazine Dwell, and is currently writing a book on housing in America for Viking. Jacobs is also a contributing editor at Metropolis magazine where she writes a regular column about how policies and ideas in architecture affect the American landscape. When Jacobs picked up the January 14 issue of The Washington Post, she saw a headline that disturbed her: “Bush Plans Sharp Cuts in HUD Community Efforts.” The article went on to explain that Bush’s proposed budget for 2006 would eviscerate funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, severely scaling back its $8 billion community branch, which has traditionally funded the development programs that are the backbone for revitalization efforts in urban areas like Baltimore. (HUD will provide the city with $14.8 million in 2005 to support the YMCA of Maryland, House of Ruth, Catholic Charities, and other grassroots organizations and city programs.) The proposed plan would restructure HUD, by both eliminating programs and moving other programs under the Commerce and Labor Departments, a move that many see as a direct blow to cities. “HUD is the place where mayors and urban interests can put up the strongest fight,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Post. Jacobs used her monthly column in Metropolis, a magazine that is read largely by architects and designers, to make plain the detrimental influence these cuts would have on the future of cities and on the design field itself. “What is housing and urban development if not architecture, design, and planning?” she wrote. I had a conversation with Jacobs about her decision to pen such an impassioned article and to discuss her thoughts on the future of housing design in America. She spoke with me by phone from her home in Brooklyn, New York.
Above: Jacobs’s April 2005 Metropolis column
EE: Your articles about the built environment often have an undercurrent of political observation, but this article was overtly political in its nature. It felt like a battle cry to architects. KJ: That’s exactly what it was. Part of the story is that in the last couple of years—both at Dwell magazine and in researching the book that I’m trying to finish writing—I’ve spoken with a lot of architects who are interested in innovative ways to build cheaply, to build not even necessarily low-income housing or affordable housing, but just good housing that doesn’t cost very much. There are a lot of design-build programs in schools that use HUD funding in some way or another, like the University of Kansas in Lawrence and [Samuel Mockbee’s] Rural Studio [at Auburn University in Alabama]. The graduates of these programs often try to continue what they were doing in school in their professional lives to build low-cost housing. This is the healthiest movement in architecture, from my point of view: This is a very handson, very engaged design-build movement that’s been growing up in the last several years. And there are all these layers of organizations, so they’re not necessarily dealing directly with HUD, but the money comes trickling down from HUD. To suddenly deny funding to that seems wrong. That’s the small part of this. The other part, as I said in the piece, is that most cities depend on funds from HUD for everything from sidewalk paving and sewers to big projects. EE: You talk about the way HUD is currently structured, about how it offers a grassroots kind of funding. Community Development Block Grants, for example, allow architects and urban planners to learn the rules at a community level and then apply funds to their individual city as needed. That would change because in addition to the proposed cuts, there’s also a massive reorganization of HUD. KJ: One of the things that people have told me is that the program is diverse and designed to work
O L I S April 2005
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A n A r c h i t e c t u r e CRITIC g e t s
in many different ways at the local level. It’s a bureaucracy that doesn’t work like a bureaucracy. It appears that now they’re trying to make it more bureaucratic because, I don’t know, they just don’t get it.
EE: You write that these changes to HUD could revert us back to the old days, that it could feel like a repeat of the first wave of urban renewal, which we now know didn’t work very well. KJ: Well yeah, assuming there’s still some money for that kind of stuff, you know? What I see happening is an increased appetite in a lot of cities, including New York, for old-fashioned, big-scale, mega-urban renewal projects that seem to always involve stadiums and convention centers. I have mixed feelings about that. It just seems like one of the things that always gets driven out by the mega projects is affordable housing.
This is the healthiest movement in architecture, from my point of view. To suddenly deny funding to that seems wrong.
EE: Urban renewal projects of the past imposed a system of design that didn’t necessarily take into consideration the reality of the way people live in an urban environment. The architects that you’ve studied are trying to change that, to create affordable housing that is what people, on a day-to-day basis, really need. KJ: People like [North Carolina architect] Bryan Bell in particular. His organization Design Corps is set up to work very closely with migrant laborers and farmers who’ve decided they don’t want to be migratory any more. They want to settle down in one place, and he works really closely with them so
that they design their own homes. He’s been very resourceful coming up with funding mechanisms for this, and it’s just really brilliant, small-scale stuff that begins to add up because he influences other people, they imitate his work. And so he’s making the lives of farm workers better incrementally.
EE: These days we often hear this idea of the “democratization” of design. But in truth, what is often being discussed is the “consumerization” of design, about how Philippe Starck can bring the masses a cool juicer through Target. But then a guy like Bryan is talking about the real democratization of design, meaning design solutions for all.
KJ: And, the thing is, I love what Target does. You know, democratization of design; but when it comes to housing, there isn’t really anybody on the large scale doing that. The large homebuilders are still building pretty much exactly the same nasty tract houses they’ve always built. Except the garages get bigger. I was driving around Rancho Cucamonga in California just east of L.A. and there are endless new tract housing developments, and now they have a two-car garage and a one-car garage. So these essentially have two garages in them. And that’s what constitutes design innovation for the homebuilders. It just seems to me that it’s essential for the smallscale architectural build firms to keep experimenting and innovating low-cost housing because the big homebuilders just aren’t doing it. EE: What about the book you are working on right now?
is that I am the client and I was on a long shopping trip. It is a framework to organize a bunch of ideas about houses and housing. I think early ’06 is the publication date.
EE: With your Metropolis article, did you write that headline: “Bush to Cities: Drop Dead!”? KJ: Uh, yeah. EE: You didn’t mince words. KJ: The thing is that, like everybody else I know, I’m just overwhelmed by a lot of what’s happening politically in this country. When I saw the HUD article I just felt like: Here’s something I know about and I have exactly the right forum to speak about this particular issue. And if I could make it tangible by saying, “Here are some architectural stars who depend on money from HUD,” then maybe I could motivate some architects and design professionals to get political. EE: You suggest that this could be a sign of how the Bush administration feels about affordable housing and about cities in general. He won a predominantly rural/suburban vote. So in a lot of ways, you saw this as that blue state/red state divide? KJ: Yeah, although you know, red states have cities, too. It’s just that anything that is complex and involves long-term thinking seems to be out of fashion again.
KJ: It’s called The Perfect $100,000 House. It’s a de-
EE: Everyone’s very sleepy, it seems. Have you had any reaction to this article?
vice to talk about some of the things that interest me, like why the housing industry is incapable of building houses that anyone I know would want to buy. I did a road trip, a big circle around the country, 14,000 miles, and I visited all these architects who are figuring out ways to build cheaply. The premise
KJ: It’s turned up on some political websites. It’s been on some architectural discussion sites. It’s kind of funny that how I gauge the impact of a story these days is how many blogs it turns up on. Once a piece goes up on the Metropolis website, it just
seems like it gets picked up or read by such a wide range of people.
EE: If you had the best possible outcome from this article, what would you hope for? A conscientiousness raising for architects and designers? KJ: Well, yeah. I don’t know in the end whether these cuts are really going to be made because so many people have such vested interests. The Council of Mayors responded instantly and all across the country people depend on these funds. But I don’t know. I guess I don’t expect the AIA [American Institute of Architects] to march on Washington anytime soon, although that would be a fun thing to see. EE: It would be, wouldn’t it? KJ: But what would they show up with? When the farmers march they bring their tractors. EE: What would architects bring? KJ: Black suits? EE: And thin, rimless glasses. KJ: I think that architects are used to the idea that small town or city politics affect them because they have to go before the zoning board or they have to deal with the community board. But I don’t know if they think about national politics and the impact that it might have on their profession. This article was just your basic wake-up call.
Read Karrie Jacob’s article online at www.metropolismag.com. Learn more about the creative design solutions of architect Bryan Bell by visiting the Design Corps website: www.designcorps.org.
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by anne winters
The Lenses of Jacob Riis (The turn-of-the-century reformer and photographer for whom the housing project on Avenue D is named)
It stills like a retina now, these black and silver photographs, cool residue of an anger more searching than art. Slowed by your lenses’ gravity, the feeble glare of flashlight-and-frypan, a ring of grimed faces stares out from a Mott Street cellar below tidewater, crammed with lodgers and coal. Then more backtenements, more warrens and roosts of the poor wards. You photographed them for annihilation only, and so we see them now, here by the river: feral faces through gratings, wan faces flooding from laundries of shade…
Jersey Street Tenement Yard: “It Costs a Dollar a Month to Sleep in Their Sheds,” c. 1890. Museum of the City of New York; The Jacob A. Riis Collection
The evidence, as it dripped from pins in your darkened kitchen: fresh lantern slides for the Board of Health. Yet to you the ring showed itself ever Tammany-formal, from the inaugural bandstand to grinning and hatted street Arabs palming a single butt. Like a watermark: the Bohemian uncles binding cigars, the seamstresses in night lofts sewing through endless shifts. But especially the immigrant families, their eyes small and wild with the New World, upright in their circle, limned like trees in your lenses’ angry, archaic light.
Reprinted from Anne Winters’s first collection of poetry, The Key to the City (1986, University of Chicago Press). Her new book of poems, The Displaced of Capital, is available through the University of Chicago Press (2004).
Street Arabs in Their Night Quarters, Mulberry Street, c. 1890. Museum of the City of New York; The Jacob A. Riis Collection
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by pamela haag
photo by Michael Edwards, Napkin drawing by Bruce Mau
MASSIVE CHANGE CAN DESIGN SAVE THE WORLD?
The “Massive Change” movement began with something remarkably small—a diagram scribbled on a napkin by the renowned architect Bruce Mau. The sketch depicts two sets of concentric circles. In the first set, “design” is the smallest circle, nestled deep within nature, culture, and business. But, in the second, nature, culture, and business are all nestled within design. Massive Change, a project by Bruce Mau Design and the Institute Without Boundaries in Toronto, Canada, ambitiously gives design pride of place in social change. As Mau explained at a December 2004 introduction to the Massive Change international exhibition, “Massive Change is not about the world of design. It’s about the design of the world.” That is a cutting-edge assertion. Design typically has been trivialized as a garnish to the “big questions” of the day. (See Mau’s first set of circles.) Architects and planners have long said that our built environment reflects our values. But, Mau asks, what if that is reversed? What if design shapes our values and our world as much as it reflects them? (See his second set of circles.) And, what if design itself, very broadly defined, turns out to be the big project that can resolve some of the big problems of our time? Massive Change shifts the question from what can we do—pretty much anything now, the movement concludes—to what will we do? The movement’s goals are daring but simple. Massive Change sees the power of design as a way to restore an ethical self-consciousness to everything that humans create, from housing to cities to the military. With a hybrid of chaos theory, architecture, and the optimism of engineering, Massive Change envisions nature as a system of information (the genome project comes to mind) and, conversely, the built world as part of nature. City life, the movement
explains, evolved in a “defensive posture, an inside protected against an outside” of nature. Massive Change advocates that we shift toward a “stewardship role” that replaces a contest between city and nature with a view that city and nature are part of the same system. In other words, according to the movement, “everywhere is city,” and everywhere is nature, too. In practical terms, this might mean designing houses and cities inspired by nature that harmonize with the environment. In China, where the city population will explode in the next two decades, the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development is working to create models for sustainable villages that draw inspiration from nature. Designs for the new cities promote walking, consider water a precious resource, maximize social engagement, optimize the use of the sun, and use biological resources to restore soil quality. Likewise, Massive Change endorses factories that behave more like forests, where nothing is wasted. Drawing on William McDonough’s book Cradle to Cradle, the movement envisions a “cycle to cycle” manufacturing economy. Instead of throwing away waste, “think about how to use it as an input.” Ultimately, the goal is to have manufacturing processes that create no waste whatsoever, and in which every scrap of material is put to use. Massive Change belongs to a long genealogy of planners, visionaries, designers, and architects who have advocated for thoughtfully, ethically designed environments that nourish the soul and change our moods. In his 1865 book, The Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Trees, Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted extolled landscaping as a way to stimulate the “reinvigoration between bodily and mental conditions” that “scenes of beauty” produce. Victor Papanek’s 1971 classic, Design for the Real World, also advocated for an ethics of design, arguing—as does Massive Change—that design matters politically, and that it can effect real changes in our world. At the same time, Massive Change takes design far beyond landscaping, urban planning, or architecture. Today, as technological capacities and knowledge explode, there is almost nothing that is not, at some level, a design question. If design can and should tackle the big questions of our day, then the design table needs to be
a very large one, with places for historians, sociologists, biologists, economists, computer scientists, inventors, and even literary critics. When Bruce Mau’s co-author and colleague Jennifer Leonard hosted a radio broadcast on Massive Change out of the University of Toronto from September 2003 to June 2004, her guests included, among many others, a professor of literature who spoke about the cultural aspects of biotechnology, a biologist who has examined how design mimics the natural world, futurists, the inventor of a water purifier, and experts in chaos theory. We are invited to the design table, too. It might not sound like Massive Change would have a micropolitical component, but local action is an important part of the agenda. The movement recognizes that the citizens who must live in and with the designed world need to have a stake in what we create. Communities can tap into the Massive Change movement to form local discussion groups or, more likely, online communities dedicated to matters of design, large and small. If you have an original design idea, you can begin a conversation about it through the Massive Change website (www.massivechange.com). It is difficult not to admire the Massive Change movement’s optimistic enthusiasm for design solutions. It restores a hopeful, “can-do” engineering and design practicality to otherwise hopelessly idealistic bumper sticker bromides such as, “Make peace, not war,” or “Feed the world.” Massive Change takes admittedly “audacious, altruistic” goals, Mau says, and grounds them as “practical objectives” attainable through design. Massive Change reminds us that we built all of this. So we can unbuild and rebuild it, too. Massive Change, by Bruce Mau, the Institute Without Boundaries, and Jennifer Leonard, is available through Phaidon Press (2004). —Pamela Haag publishes broadly on the topic of American public transit. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Washington Post.
Above: Bruce Mau and the napkin scribble that launched Massive Change
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BOOK Mary Ellen Hayward and Charles Belfoure, The Baltimore Rowhouse (New York, N.Y.: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001) and Mary Ellen Hayward and Frank R. Shivers Jr., The Architecture of Baltimore (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) Attractive though they are, these books are not the standard glossy fare you gorge on like a sugary dessert, then realize you’re still hungry. The Architecture of Baltimore and The Baltimore Rowhouse, taken in conjunction, provide an exhaustive and enlightening account of the evolution of our home-
GALLERY The Punk Rock Photography of Jim Jocoy, SF/LA 1978-1980, Gspot: Audio/Visual Playground, opening May 7 and running through June 4 Festive Day-Glo orange and yellow graffiti adorns the backdrop of her portrait. Encased in black leather, with one hand on her hip, her eyes glint straight out at you, radiating an energetic defiance. A cigarette dangles from her blood-red lips, and her spiked hair and tattoos communicate that she doesn’t care what you think. The photograph speaks to the joyful rebellion of punk rock, which provided an alternative to the vapid consumer culture of the early 1980s. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, when punk was still young, an enthusiastic scenester named Jim Jocoy went to all the rock shows and, “snapped pictures like crazy,” he says. He captured the excitement in hundreds of color-saturated slides and then printed them as grainy color photocopies. Little did he know that twenty years later famous rockers and public fans would be clamoring for these images. Jocoy, a San Francisco-based photographer, put the photos away in storage and only pulled them back out in 2001 for what he describes as “a fun summer project.” After sending the images to
town that goes beyond just architecture. Erudite but surprisingly readable, they offer much to digest, leaving the reader tempted to put on some comfortable shoes and take a long walk around Charm City with eyes wide open. Great cities evolve according to the needs and imagination of their inhabitants, and eighteenth and nineteenth century Baltimoreans needed “a whole world within walking distance,” according to authors Mary Ellen Hayward and Charles Belfoure. The European immigrants and free blacks worked where they lived, spawning neighborhoods of merchants and sea captains, shoemakers and laundresses, coopers and oyster canners, which unspooled outward from the harbor in undulating ribbons of homes. Saved from the blight of tenements endured by land-scarce cities such as Boston or New York, Baltimoreans created their unique rowhouse dwellings. A version of the English terrace house, each home had its own front door and access to the shared community of the street. Because the profits came from the ground rents, building costs did not drive the developer’s budget, allowing decent materials and sturdy construction. The affordability of this housing ensured that by the late nineteenth century, the rate of homeownership in Baltimore was an astonishing 70%.
As the city grew, the prosperous middle classes moved farther away from the harbor, embracing their new status as solid Americans and often forgetting their own immigrant roots. They cherished their fashionable Moorish, British Gothic, or Italianate homes, yet were reluctant to rub shoulders with actual North Africans, Irish, or Italians. The African American community endured the particular persecution of being restricted to living in certain areas. According to the Maryland Avenue Association of 1921, zoning laws protected “purely white neighborhoods from a Negro invasion.” These laws, together with the rise of the automobile, solidified a suburban development model riddled with racism. The architectural gems for which the city is internationally renowned are celebrated in both books. Yet, the authors also respect the quirkier creations that make Baltimore unique—the perfect form‑follows‑function of the Shot Tower, sally ports and iron-spot brick, the campanile of the BromoSeltzer factory, and the tacky delights of 1950s Formstone. And, of course, the greatest ballpark in North America.
several photographer friends, they ended up in the clutches of Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who promptly got Jocoy a book publisher. The result: We’re Desperate: The Punk Rock Photography of Jim Jocoy, SF/LA 1978-1980, a collection of 249 images, with an introduction by Marc Jacobs, an essay by Exene Cervenka of the band X, and an interview with Thurston Moore. The book presents a cross section of punk musicians, artists, and fans, all treated with equal emphasis to create a complete visual record of the origins of punk rock. Notable mugs include Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop, John Waters, Darby Crash and members of the bands X, Poison Ivy, and the Cramps. Jocoy likens the discovery of his hidden prints and the publishing of We’re Desperate to “dropping a pebble in a pond.” The energy and excitement has rippled outward, expanding the artist’s career to exhibits in San Francisco and New York. Jocoy continues to express himself creatively through photography, especially Polaroids, and intones that the most important part of being an artist is, “to do what brings you joy and express yourself.” Jocoy’s first Baltimore exhibit, curated by Randy Davis, is at the Gspot: Audio/Visual Playground in
Hampden, a gallery and performance space where a grunge aesthetic and a mixture of art and music appeal to a wide audience. The show, which opens May 7 with musical accompaniment provided by local bands, will feature a color slide-show and a selection of prints from We’re Desperate. A catalogue/book signing by the artist will create an opportunity for ex-punk rockers and the next generation of DIY enthusiasts to savor a rich past and ponder the future of punk. Gspot: Audio/Visual Playground; 2980 Falls Road; 410‑889‑6767; www.gspotavp.com.
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Even at 2,100 degrees, the art he makes attracts quite an audience.
Creating a community takes art…
Following an artistic tradition that stretches back literally thousands of
The art of seeing amazing
years, Anthony Corradetti blows molten glass into art-and then reaches for
possibilities where others
his paintbrushes. As the owner of the Corradetti Glass Studio and Gallery,
Corradetti is renowned for his unique approach to creating art glass. After a
absolutely hands-on in
glass form has been created, he applies layers of luster paint to its surfaces,
crafting every detail.
each of which are fired in turn. The result is what Corradetti calls "a threedimensional painting." Collectors call it amazing; his work currently resides
That’s what you’ll dis-
in the White House Collection of Crafts, The Smithsonian Institute, and the
cover at Clipper Mill—a
Corning Museum. Having recently moved his operations to Clipper Mill,
new community that’s uniquely defined by the artisans
Corradetti is upbeat about the new possibilities for his space, which will
and artists who have worked here for more than 150 years.
allow him to conduct glassblowing classes and workshops as well. "The
From its start as the Union Machine Shops, once the
whole spirit of the place is great," he says. "It's really hot."
largest machine manufacturing plant in the nation, to its
Pictured above: Corradetti Glass Studio and Gallery
later role as an artist’s colony, Clipper Mill has always been a place of innovation and activity. Now along the Jones Falls, it is being reinvented as a vibrant mixed-use community—one that you can call home or work, or both. Within its 17 acres bordering massive Druid Hill Park, Clipper Mill will offer cutting-edge choices balanced with
It took a flash flood to frame a new opportunity for growth. Nancy Graboski may not have expected the two feet of water that burst into her business last July, but she responded in a flash. "Our instincts just kicked in," she recalls. As the owner of the Beveled Edge, known for its fine custom framing and art restoration services, she managed to save all of her customers' artwork. But the flood forced her to relocate both her retail space and gallery-and her production facility, where specialty frames are painstakingly made by hand. But it turned out to be a move for the better. Graboski's new production facility in Clipper Mill now
environmentally sustainable design—and your pick of homes, apartments, condominiums, office space, and live/work artist studios. With its central location and own light rail stop, you’re never far from, well, anywhere. There’s an art to creating a community— and you’ll find it where it all started, at Clipper Mill. To see it for yourself, call 443-573-4000.
gives her just the space she needs. "The beauty of the new space is that we are able to make very large pieces there," she notes, "which is an important feature in our service to customers." Moving into the space last New Year's Eve, she was greeted by impromptu fireworks. "It was meant to be," she smiles. Pictured above: Nancy Graboski of Beveled Edge
Clipper Mill In Baltimore’s historic Jones Falls Valley
Resources Home: The Baltimore Style From p. 20 Local Furniture Resources: Millbrook Antiques 859 W. 36th Street 410-235-7655 High-quality antiques on the street level; kitschy period pieces from the 1950s to the 1980s, organized by decade, in the basement. The Turnover Shop 3855 Roland Avenue 410-235-9585 3547 Chestnut Avenue 410-366-2988 www.theturnovershop.com Fine antique furniture, china, crystal, lighting and more. Housewerks 1415 Bayard Street 410-685-8047 email@example.com Decorative building materials. Baltimore’s Antique Row 800 block of North Howard Street; 200 block of West Read Street www.imperialhalfbushel.com/BaltimoresAntiqueRow.htm A century-old location for premier antique finds. Second Chance Inc. 1643 Warner Street 410-385-1101 www.secondchanceinc.org Massive architectural salvage store.
Encounter : Weed Warriors From p. 22 Local Resources: Gwynns Falls Watershed Association 1920 Eagle Drive
443-429-3183 www.gwynnsfalls.net Organization dedicated to preserving Gwynns Falls; organizes days of service, lobbying efforts, and other events. Windsor Hills Conservation Trail Intersection of Fairfax Road and Clifton Road in Windsor Hills www.windsorhillsneighbors.org Plant- and bird-rich trail located between Gwynns Falls and Leakin Park. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National and Eastern Region Office 1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20036 202-857-0166 www.nfwf.org Regional branch of the federal office that oversees preservation of fish and wildlife. Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks 3001 East Drive Baltimore, MD, 21217 410-396-7900 www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/recnparks All things related to Baltimore parks, including permits and events.
Feature: Picking Poppleton From p. 30 Further reading: Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown Roberta Brandes Gratz and Norman Mintz (New York, N.Y.: John Wiley & Sons, 1998) A hopeful book about how downtown areas can be revived by escaping the confines of conventional wisdom. The Living City: How America’s Cities Are Being Revitalized by Thinking Small in a Big Way Roberta Brandes Gratz (New York, N.Y.: John Wiley & Sons, 1994)
The journalist and urban critic examines urban revitalization issues.
Feature: Rethinking the Rowhome From p. 34 Local Restoration Resources: TerraLogos: Eco Architecture, PC 1014 W. 36th Street 410-467-7300 www.terralogos.com Architecture firm specializing in green design. Maryland Historical Trust www.marylandhistoricaltrust.net/taxcr.html The Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program provides a 20% tax credit on the costs of renovating a “certified heritage structure.” Information for homeowners can be found at the Maryland Historical Trust website. Further reading: Those Old Placid Rows: The Aesthetic and Development of the Baltimore Rowhouse Natalie W. Shivers (Baltimore, Md.: Maclay & Associates, 1981) Comprehensive study of the Baltimore rowhouse by an architectural historian.
Conversation: Karrie Jacobs From p. 34 Magazine Resources: Dwell Magazine www.dwellmag.com Hip magazine devoted to modern residential architecture. Metropolis Magazine www.metropolismag.com Magazine of architecture and contemporary design.
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I ALWAYS WANTED TO
OPERA AT LA SCALA IN ITALY!
BUT I SOUND SO GOOD IN MY NEW BATHROOM, I’D HATE TO LEAVE!
No matter how big your dreams are a MECU Home Equity loan could help you on your way. A trip to the Italian Opera stage? Well, maybe. To sing? Well, maybe not. But certainly a new bathroom, vacation trip to any destination, a home improvement project, education expenses, a car, or you can simply establish a Home Equity Line of Credit for a time when you might need it. Just as you deduct the interest paid on your mortgage, you can usually deduct 100% of the interest on a Home Equity Line of Credit. Ask your tax advisor how much you could save
Your savings federally insured to $100,000
National Credit Union Administration A U.S. Government Agency
L E N D E R
with the smartest way to borrow. MECU can also help if you're looking to refinance your home. You can set up a Home Equity Line of Credit at the same time and pay no additional closing costs. So remember, although MECU can't make you an opera star - we can certainly help get you to the performance. P.S. Last year members who had a mortgage and home equity line at MECU got a loan interest rebate. Did you? For more information call the MECU Mortgage Dept. at 410823-3300 or 410-752-8313.
“If you can dream it, a MECU Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit can help you do it.” WHAT'S ON YOUR LIST? • New bathroom with jacuzzi • Season tickets to the opera • Home theater system • Singing lessons • A trip to Italy • Italian Lessons
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Savings are federally insured to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration with additional coverage provided through Excess Share Insurance Corporation to a combined total of $175,000. • Equal Housing Lender- We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Lending Laws.