Gathering Among The Greenery

The lower plaza serves as a transition space between the upper-entry plaza and the street. Paving materials consist of a band of clay brick pavers along the road edge, and a band of gray 18-inch x 24-inch concrete pavers beyond, which unifies the newly constructed space with the overall campus design.

The existing utility infrastructure presented unique design challenges to the addition of plant material in the lower plaza.

Trees And Landscaping

Underground steam lines in the area limited the use of street trees, which would normally create a more “human” scale, in contrast to the taller campus buildings that surround the site.

The solution involved using insulated 4-foot x 5-foot planters along Pine Street, creating a green edge between the street and plaza space. This enabled plantings to be incorporated along the street, while working within the allowable budget and framework of the site.

Often, when designing within cities, creating space for plant material can be challenging; however, the final design for the School of Pharmacy presented a lush mixture of greenery.

A planter wall between the upper and lower plazas doubles as a divider, while introducing plant material into a space otherwise dominated by hardscape material.

Due to durability within an urban context and limited watering requirements, green roof plantings were used in this wall, and the wall running parallel to the ramp leading between the upper and lower plazas. This supports the sustainable initiatives of the School of Pharmacy addition, ultimately resulting in LEED Gold designation for the building and site.

Bamboo planted in a custom planter adjacent to the building entry softens the transition between the upper plaza and building façade. The planter-bed design keeps the bamboo contained in the allotted space and limits future maintenance issues. Once established, the bamboo will give verticality to the space between the building and upper plaza, creating an additional scale for those enjoying the seating area.

The public area created along Martin Luther King Boulevard serves as an important transitional space between the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, and the adjacent community. This highly visible space offers an additional opportunity to incorporate plant material into the design, softening the hard edges of the building and pavement.

The focal point of the space is a curvilinear promenade aligned with the façade of the building addition. The walk is constructed of concrete pavers, with a clay-brick paver border at the outer edge. This contrasts nicely with the green lawn planted between the walk and the boulevard.

Boston Ivy on a grid trellis system is attached to the building façade along the walk. The green face introduces plant material into the urban-campus setting, and benches placed along the walk provide points of rest for those travelling across the campus or for residents enjoying the promenade.

The final design of the School of Pharmacy serves as a prime example in redeveloping urban spaces to better connect and reflect adjacencies. The plazas and promenade created for the site offer opportunities for students, faculty, and residents to interact.

The main entry plaza reflects the prestige associated with the School of Pharmacy, presenting an opportunity for interaction with other institutions on campus. The promenade along Martin Luther King Boulevard is a highly visible space, serving as the edge of campus, and a connection to the adjacent urban fabric of Baltimore.

Commonality between the spaces is drawn from the rich palette of materials used, both hardscape and landscape, creating spaces to be enjoyed for years to come.

Steven Preston has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University, and is with Site Resources, Inc., a landscape-architectural and civil-engineering firm in Baltimore, Md.

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One comment on “Gathering Among The Greenery

  1. Alison on said:

    Great article, really touches on every aspect of design, including budgets. Congrats to this writer. Awesome photos too.

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