USA a central city

of the investments of its members at stake. The Planning Council hired Dr David Wallace, later a principal in the Philadelphia urban design firm of Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd, to develop a design for a sloping, 33-acre (13-hectare) area in the heart of Baltimore linking the retail, financial and government districts of the city. He, in turn, brought on board other consultants such as George Kostritsky and Dennis Durden.

The GBC was aware of the work of Victor Gruen in Rochester, New York and his proposal for Fort Worth in Texas (Gruen, 1964). The latter design consisted of a ring road around the centre of the city with parking garages feeding off it (see Figure 8.53). The whole area within this loop was proposed to be a car-free pedestrian precinct. The GBC wanted something similar but imple-mentable, financially and politically. On a smaller scale they got it.

The goal of the GBC team was not only to revitalize the blocks that were to be later called Charles Center, but for any developments there to also encourage investment on adjacent sites. The objective was to have a project large enough to have a significant impact, but not large enough to fill all the potential demand that might be generated by an improved physical environment. By 'improvement' was meant that access to downtown offices and shops had to be clear and easy, that parking had to be convenient to destinations and that the buildings had to be both modern and look modern.

The legal responsibility for achieving the specified development goals lay in the

Figure 8.53 The Fort Worth plan of Victor Gruen, 1958. (a) A bird's eye view and (b) a ground level view.

Figure 8.53 The Fort Worth plan of Victor Gruen, 1958. (a) A bird's eye view and (b) a ground level view.

Figure 8.54 The site before development seen from the north.

hands of the Baltimore Urban Renewal Agency. The redevelopment was designated a Title I project requiring supervision by a number of Federal (central government) agencies. The project was, however, run by an office directed by J. Jefferson Miller. It evolved into the Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management team responsible for the coordination of the actions taken by government agencies and by private property interests. It was the first such organization in the United States. The design ideas came mainly from Wallace.

Five important buildings on the site were retained (three office buildings, a hotel and a parking structure representing 47% of the assessed value of the site). Business in them continued while redevelopment took place. The remainder of the site was divided into 16 parcels large enough to appeal to a broad range of potential property developers. In order to assemble the parcels 148 separate acquisitions involving 216 different parcels had to be made. Three hundred and fifty businesses involving 8789 jobs had to be relocated. Some organizations were relocated to other buildings on the site and then moved back to newly erected buildings; for others temporary accommodations were found off the site (Figure 8.54).

Figure 8.55 Charles Center site and plans. (a) The 1957 proposal and (b) the site as developed by 1972.

Figure 8.55 Charles Center site and plans. (a) The 1957 proposal and (b) the site as developed by 1972.

The site is bisected by Fayette Street (later partially bridged by a building and deck so that two superblocks were linked into one to form the basis of the design). The original design (1957) had clear Modernist overtones with its considerable amount of parks and plazas (see Figure 8.55a), but the one that evolved by 1972 (see Figure 8.55) was significantly denser. Forty changes, each approved by the City Council, were made to the original conceptual design based largely on a more thorough understanding of the property market.

The components of the site were linked by an elevated walkway - a skyway - made possible by the 60-foot (18-metre) slope of the site. At the same time, buildings were built to the property line on the streets so that Charles Center was both an island and integrated with surrounding areas. The sites were disposed of in a number of ways: competition based on team credentials, land price competition, negotiated sales and negotiated leases. Each site had guidelines and controls written in a section of a legally adopted plan titled, 'Aesthetic control and approval of plans and specification' (Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Agency, 1959). The controls stipulated the building use, the maximum bulk and the height of each development (see Figure 8.56 for one important block). Some flexibility in terms of the modification of site boundaries was allowed but none in terms

Figure 8.56 Building control envelope for the building at the corner of Fayette and Charles Streets. (a) Isometric drawing from the northwest and (b) view from the west.

Figure 8.56 Building control envelope for the building at the corner of Fayette and Charles Streets. (a) Isometric drawing from the northwest and (b) view from the west.

of height and bulk. These controls became the basis for specific agreements with individual developers. In the negotiated dispositions many changes took place but in design competitions few. Much depended on what an architectural review board decided.

The first office building was selected by competition. The goal was to have an internationally renowned architect design the scheme in order to set a high standard. The winning entry (of six) was that proposed by Metropolitan Structures of Chicago. The architect was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Later developments were selected in a number of ways: by design competition and review, by displaced site tenants, by government agencies or by owner-builders. They included a variety of building types - hotels and housing - but they were mainly commercial structures. The most adventurous building was the Mechanics Theatre, seating 1800 people, designed by John Johansen.

By the late 1960s, Charles Center was largely built-out. It included 1.8 million square feet of office space, 800 hotel rooms, the Mechanics Theatre, 367 apartment units and parking for 4000 cars. The number of jobs increased to 17,000 creating a spin-off in terms of shopping demand. Perhaps the greatest success was that 93% of the businesses in Charles Center were relocated without liquidating. The project, as intended, also generated considerable growth around it - apartment buildings and offices. One of the companies that lost out on the original design competition for a building simply crossed the road and built a building for itself. The process by which Charles Center was implemented also demonstrates how public-private partnerships in redevelopment can be best achieved. Unfortunately Baltimore did not learn as much from Charles Center as it might have done. Some of the excesses of 1980s and early 1990s

development led to the construction of buildings that were (and are) much under-occupied (Figure 8.57).

Although it remained remarkably intact for 40 years, the scheme has been altered in a number of ways since it was completed. The weakest point of the design has been the skyway system. Some seldom-used parts have been demolished. It still remains the most efficient way to move around the site, but efficiency is not necessarily what people seek in moving around downtowns unless they are drivers! People prefer to walk at ground level where the life of the city is. Other changes have also taken place. The section of the building spanning Fayette Street has been demolished and all three plazas are being redesigned. The goal is to enhance their utility and their use. The strongest part of the scheme was its financial success; the city's bond rating was increased from A to A1. As an architectural work it was very much a product of its time. Wallace was the recipient of the American Planning Association's Distinguished Leadership Award in 2003.

Major references

Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Agency (1959). Charles Center Urban Renewal Plan. Baltimore: The Agency.

Blumberg, Andrew (2003). Big Dreams, Great Vision.

Johns Hopkins Professional Studies Web Edition. Millspaugh, Martin, ed. (1964). Baltimore's Charles Center. A Case Study in Downtown Development. Washington, DC: The Urban Land Institute. Uthman, Fuad A. (1972). Charles Center, Baltimore: a case study of architectural controls through mandatory design review with an examination of architectural controls within the urban renewal process and through regulation. Philadelphia, PA: Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania. Wallace, David (1964). The planning process. Baltimore's Charles Center - a case study of downtown renewal. ULI Technical Bulletin 31. Washington, DC: The Urban Land Institute. Wallace, David (2004). Urban Planning/My Way. Chicago, IL: American Planning Association.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

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