There’s no doubt that Baltimore has been in the collective thoughts of more people than usual these days, and for good reason. The city is a hot bed of change, an example of “anytown USA,” and a demonstration of an ever-evolving urban landscape. As a company dedicated to making positive change in cities through design, this is something that was bound to catch our attention. It’s also why we’ve decided to open up a satellite office in the city. Having recently narrowed our agency’s vision to “rebuilding cities through thoughtful design practices” – the expansion into Baltimore allows us to reach directly into a new market that aligns with our mission.
More than anything, we want to continue improving urban lifestyles by branding projects that have an impact on where people work, live, and visit. Much like Philadelphia less than a decade ago, Baltimore is seeing tremendous growth and opportunity for urban development. The 2014 Development Report produced by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (DPOB) makes that clear. In the next several years, the city will see investment in retail, residential, and commercial developments reach over $2.6 billion. As anyone living in the city can attest to, construction cranes are an ever-present element of the skyline.
As any good “indicator species” does, the millennials are also signaling this change in a very tangible way. The number of college-educated people between 25-32 living in Baltimore increased by 92% between 2000 and 2010. That’s the fourth highest growth for any metro area across the nation. Where the millennials go, development follows. Or, is it the other way around? Either way, we are poised to support that growth as an agency.
In the case of Philadelphia’s successful transformation of the Delaware River Waterfront with the wildly popular Spruce Street Harbor Park, we can see direct comparables to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and waterfront promenade and new exciting developments such as Harbor Market. The cities, which were once home to heavy industry and shipping, are now seeing rebirth as attractions in themselves and assets to both residents and visitors alike.
We see comparable neighborhood developments and opportunities for growth in other areas too. Compare Baltimore’s hip, foodie-centric Hampden or Remington to Fishtown or Northern Liberties in Philadelphia, and the similar reasons for growth are again clear. Both cities are turning what used to be working-class areas into flourishing, powerful brands of their own. They’re focused on food, community, walkability, and all-around improvement; and they aren’t looking back.
It’s at this intersection of branding, development, urban revitalization, and opportunity that we want to reside as an agency. By helping change cities through thoughtful design, we’re more excited than ever to not only make an impact in Philadelphia and Baltimore, but beyond.
So if you’re in town, come visit us in the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) in Highlandtown, another part of Baltimore’s changing urban landscape. We’ll be there amongst many other entrepreneurial-minded folks from companies large and small working to make this city even greater.