Over this past six months I had the pleasure of working with the good folks of Mahan Rykiel as part of their innovative design research program to study the landscape of the Port of Baltimore. The program, lead by Director of Research Isaac Hametz, is a really exciting initiative that seeks to mate the capacity and knowledge of a professional design firm together with the academic rigor and intellectual experimentation necessitated by research. Besides Isaac and Mahan Rykiel President Richard Jones, the mitochondria in this effort was a set of interns, grads and undergrads drawn from some excellent landscape programs: Karen Kuo (Penn State), Julianna Shapiro (U. of Virginia), Brian McKnight (SUNY-ESF), and visual genius Shi Chen (RISD).

This year, we teamed up to study the Port of Baltimore and the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) to study the port through three schemas:
Port--> as an intermodal logistical network
Harbor--> a domesticated extension of a large water body
Terminal--> the land/water interface

In each schema we tried to consider three primary characteristics: scale, technology, and experience. The final products are still be worked on, and I'll try to share them here in some form, but include the first "Baltimore Atlas of Industry" (title image above), a conceptual proposal for a living shoreline for the BMI waterfront campus, and potentially an exhibit and publication. In collaboration with the Port and the BMI, plans are being drawn up by Mahan Rykiel now to further the idea of using dredged sediment to create a public, ecological living shoreline in the city.

I'll try to post a link to the Atlas when it's done, and any updates as it happens. The experience was fantastic, and an enriching opportunity to be able to grapple with ideas of innovative sediment use and urban public space in a real way. The example of openness, innovation, and leadership being set by the Port of Baltimore, the BMI, and especially the folks at Mahan Rykiel is inspiring. We need more firms setting up and investing in real, actionable research in the future. Coming from practice and now being researcher, I think it is an important way forward.

[The Port and Harbor of Baltimore, shown in section-elevation rolled into a planimetric feature extraction; drawing by Shi Chen, part of "Port Terrain: A Baltimore Atlas of Industry" by Mahan Rykiel as part of the research program.]