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Interim designs for McKeldin released, as fountain demo moves forward

Interim designs for McKeldin released, as fountain demo moves forward
A rendering of the Downtown Partnership's planned makeover of McKeldin Plaza, which includes razing the skywalks and the Brutalist-style fountain. (Courtesy of Land Collective)

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is moving forward with plans to tear out the aging fountain in McKeldin Plaza, replacing it — at least temporarily — with new grass terraces overlooking the busy Inner Harbor intersection, illuminated with strings of lights and shaded by new trees.

The partnership, which receives funding from the city and downtown businesses, has spearheaded efforts to renovate the central plaza, despite objection from some who called on the city to save the fountain as an example of brutalist architecture or postpone demolition until there is money to implement a long-term plan.

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Demolition of the first of two skywalks started earlier this month. The partnership hopes to finish razing the skywalks and fountain this fall, said Kirby Fowler, president of the organization, which released drawings of a replacement plan on Tuesday.

The new design is an interim plan, expected to be in place for just a few years, Fowler said. It was created by landscape architect David Rubin, a member of the city's design panel and the founding principal of the Philadelphia landscape architecture and urban design firm Land Collective.

It's not clear what might replace it long term. Fowler and Planning Director Thomas J. Stosur said they still are figuring out how to develop a final plan. Previous proposals, which failed to gain traction before the city's design review panel, called for eliminating Light Street's curvy spur into Calvert Street and installing a new fountain and plantings.

The cost of the interim design is still being developed, Fowler said. The Downtown Partnership has about $4 million to put toward the revamped plaza, including about $2.5 million from city and state funds, Fowler said.

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