New Pavilion and Café Designs Revealed for Rash Field Redevelopment

| September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

As the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore prepares to begin its redevelopment of the Inner Harbor’s Rash Field next summer, several design updates were revealed last Thursday at Baltimore City Planning Department’s Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel (UDARP). These plans, including a new pavilion overlooking the park with an indoor and outdoor café space below, were presented by Waterfront Partnership and project designer Mahan Rykiel.

The plan for Rash Field includes The Sand Box, a seven-court beach volleyball area near the center of the park; The Lawn, a natural grass field, which will be used for kids soccer games, pick-up sports games, events, as well as space to relax; a skatepark; The Game Allee for bocce ball and ping pong; and the Play Lab for kids, which includes a nature park and kinetic play area.

The plan includes the demolition of the concrete bleachers around Rash Field. The bleachers against Key Hwy. will be replaced by a green wall. There will also be changes in elevation and grade for running and walking paths, landscaping, and gardens. Running paths will likely be made of pavers. Laurie Schwartz, president of Waterfront Partnership, told this would add more shade, a response Waterfront Partnership kept hearing during its request for comments. This area will also be the new home of the Pride of Baltimore memorial.

The bleachers on the western end of Rash Field will be replaced by the new pavilion designed by Gensler that features a top deck that overlooks the Inner Harbor and has views of the park, skyline, and waterfront. The deck has an upward slope towards the waterfront, a feature that was examined in detail on Thursday. The new shape of the pavilion will give it a stronger orientation toward the intersection at Key Hwy. and William St.

Patrons will be able to access the park from the pavilion using a stairwell on the western side of the pavilion or via a ramp on the eastern side of the pavilion. This first floor of the pavilion will also have new men’s, women’s, and family bathrooms, a rental shop for activities, a maintenance garage, and a new café with an indoor area and an attached outdoor patio.

The outdoor patio of the café will be underneath an overhang on the pavilion. Schwartz told that Waterfront Partnership is hoping to acquire a beer/wine license for the café, and hopes future patrons will enjoy a drink on the patio while watching activities in the park and enjoying views of the Inner harbor. Waterfront Partnership will seek an operator to run the café.

The Kaufman Pavilion between the western bleachers and the water will be removed. “It allows the eastern and western parts of the park to be connected without the division of the pavilion. It will make it feel like one space,” said Schwartz.

A new water feature will be added between The Sand Box and The Lawn. This will either be a fountain that could have walk-through jets, or a pond with oyster farming that could be used as an outdoor classroom.

New landscaping will be added throughout the park. This will include native Chesapeake Bay-area plantings, various pollinator gardens, and plants for stormwater management.

A safe level of lighting will be added throughout the park, according to Richard Jones of Mahan Rykiel. The fixtures on the lighting masts that allow for beach volleyball at night will also be improved.

The project is expected to cost $20 million. Waterfront Partnership has $10.5 million in capital fund from Baltimore City (although at this time the funds would be released in phases) and $2 million from the State of Maryland. It is looking for sponsors and grants to fund the rest of the redevelopment. The new design is more conducive to sponsorship opportunities within the park, according to Waterfront Partnership.

Schwartz told the fundraising response has been “strong” and that announcements will be coming in the near future.

The project will either be done in two phases or one phase depending on the availability of funds. If done in phases, phase one would tackle the pavilion and the attractions to the west of the pavilion, which includes The Play Lab and the skatepark. The second phase would construct the remaining spaces. The project will break ground next summer. Phase one would take about 18 months and the entire project, if done all at once, would take 18 to 24 months.

Richard Burns of UDARP said “development of this project has been really terrific and this could be one of the biggest attractions in the City.” He also compared its potential to that of Millennium Park in Chicago and The High Line in New York City.

Existing condition screenshot courtesy of Apple Maps

Rendering Courtesy of Mahan Rykiel 

Rendering Courtesy of Gensler

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