Gathering Among The Greenery

While traveling through downtown Baltimore, it might be easy to miss the plazas and spaces that dot the city.

Students and faculty gather at the School of Pharmacy on the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland.

However, by taking some time and walking through The University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus, a unique urban oasis is revealed, with a rich palette of hardscape and plant material.

Situated on 75 acres in the city’s Central Business District, the campus houses an array of elements, including The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), as well as the seven University of Maryland Schools of Medicine. The School of Pharmacy, one of the seven schools, is situated at the western edge of the campus.

Over time, because of its success and growing enrollment, the School of Pharmacy expanded its operations throughout the campus. A surface parking lot serving the existing pharmacy building was chosen to consolidate research and classroom activities, to tie into existing utilities, and to enhance the urban character of the campus by providing exterior amenity space.

The building addition and associated landscaping are situated between Fayette Street to the north, Baltimore Street to the south, Pine Street to the east, and Martin Luther King Boulevard to the west.

The final design creates a space for students and faculty from the School of Pharmacy to interact with each other, as well as with the estimated 20,000 people who populate the campus daily.

A mixture of pavement types, plant materials, and site amenities form a space that responds to the inner functionality of the building, while extending the site’s use outward into the university campus and adjacent community.

The Plaza

The focal point of the design is a terraced plaza at the main entry to the building along Pine Street, consisting of retaining walls with a thermal-finish, pink granite face, and a Pennsylvania Bluestone cap.

The upper area of the plaza was designed to extend the interior of the building into the outdoor space. In order to accomplish that, a custom pattern was created involving Pennsylvania Bluestone with an edge treatment of black-and-white granite cobbles; the effect creates continuity between design elements within the plaza.

Tables and chairs placed in the plaza facilitate an interactive space for gatherings over lunch, between classes, or while travelling across the campus. A planted wall between the upper and lower plaza provides additional seating, while allocating extra space for planting.

A wide flight of stairs transitions from the upper plaza to the lower plaza. Railings on the stairs are sleek and contemporary, complementing the architecture of the building. The stairs offer an added space for gathering as occupants of the building move between spaces on campus.

An adjacent ramp installed along the façade meets the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing access to the upper terrace and building.

Staggered bluestone caps serve as seating along the wall between the ramp and sidewalk below, and a planted strip provides an opportunity to interject green within the hard surfaces.

Plantings soften the hardscape along this walkway.

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