Creating a Place for Public Debate of City Planning and Design

Baltimore considers following in the footsteps of Paris, San Francisco and Copenhagen by opening a "design center", a place for people to gather and debate the design of their city.

Klaus Philipsen, a local architect and co-chairman of the Urban Design Committee of Baltimore's AIA chapter, is one of the minds behind the plan.

""What we don't have is a place where ... you know that design is discussed and you can see what is happening in Baltimore," Philipsen said.

The purpose of the meeting next week is to find out who might want to pursue the idea. No specific location has been identified for a Baltimore design center, he said.

"It's a litmus test to see if there is interest and, if so, what should be in it" and where it might be, he said of the meeting. "Everything is on the table right now."

Some design centers are primarily commercial settings where designers and clients select furniture, fixtures and textiles, but that isn't primarily what is envisioned, said Craig Purcell, another local architect who has been involved in the preliminary discussions. He said he envisions a design center as "a place for exploration and communication and exchange of ideas."

He said it would be an urban laboratory where students from different colleges might share facilities, and where people could learn about the latest redevelopment plans for the State Office Center or the East Baltimore renewal area or Charles North.

Depending on who runs it, he said, elements likely would include an extensive design library, galleries, academic studios and meeting rooms. Once it becomes established, he said, it could anchor a larger design district that could include commercial space for designers and showrooms for companies serving the building industry.""

Full Story: Architects and planners ponder a city design center

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