Baltimore’s leading non-profit for creative solutions to recreational, environmental and park issues charged the design team with fashioning a campus from a series of abandoned historic buildings on a large, overgrown site within Baltimore's premier Druid Hill Park. The process engaged multiple public and private entities in a 10-year planning, design, and construction effort and overcame challenges arising from a diversity of funding sources. The project includes a restoration of the park’s original superintendent’s house constructed in 1872, creation of a network of public walking paths and gardens, and the design of a LEED Platinum headquarters for the Foundation. A majority of the space is dedicated to public use including teaching labs, community event space, seminar rooms, demonstration gardens, community composting center and new bike and walking paths.
The Superintendent’s House is a model for using historic restoration and sustainable design to breathe new life into existing structures. The House faithfully retains its original exterior detail and trim, evoking the long history the park, while offering a flexible, open floor plan for use as a meeting space.
The Sally and Butch Michel Center, provides a respectful counterpoint to the campus’ historic structures. The large, open office space is nestled into the landscape to diminish the overall impact of the building on the site, while a green roof and terrace create strong connections between interior and exterior spaces. Conventional materials including wood siding and metal panel complement the use of stone and slate in the historic structures while evoking images of humble agrarian outbuildings.
The design creates a didactic environment at every level that encourages the community to learn, grow and explore their natural environment. The campus is the first permanent home for the 30-year old nonprofit and supports the full complement of Parks & People’s 50 staff, volunteers, and visitors.