Client: Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street, Baltimore Development Corporation, Neighborhood Design Center
Location: Baltimore, MD, United States
Completion date: 2020
Artwork budget: $115,000
Public Artist, Urban Designer, General Contractor
Graham Projects LLC
Fabrication & Installation
Stencil artwork & Installation
Annie Howe Papercuts
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Curbside Commons Design for Distancing project converted a parking lane into public space for safe, physically distanced community gathering, shopping, services, and culinary encounters along Hamilton-Lauraville’s main street, Harford Road.
Design for Distancing is a tactical urban design initiative of the Baltimore Development Corporation and Neighborhood Design Center intended to help small businesses in Baltimore reopen without compromising public health. Led by Graham Projects, the design-build team included Property Consulting, Inc. (PCI), LANNINGSMITH, and Annie Howe Papercuts. We collaborated with the Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street and adjacent small businesses to understand their needs to stay open while maintaining physical distancing and other COVID-19 precautions. Through discussions facilitated by PCI, merchants asked for outdoor seating, distancing markers, event space, pedestrian and wheelchair accessibility, public art, signage, bicycle parking, and artful wayfinding.
In meeting merchant needs, Graham Projects implemented all of its contributions in the Design for Distancing Ideas Guidebook published earlier in response to the pandemic. Click here to download the free resource on created COVID-19 safe public spaces.
For the Curbside Commons we created safe pedestrian space using traffic bump outs, line striping, flex-posts,bike racks, and a first-of-its-kind midblock crosswalk with traffic island. Artful, high-contrast asphalt coating visually unify the Curbside Commons while demarking the former parking lane as a premiere safe space for pedestrian conviviality and commerce. From the “Gridn’ Safe” modular stencils and footprint markings participants take visual and tactile cues for maintaining their publicly healthy personal space. Creative pavement stencils by local artist Annie Howe evoke the businesses and services offered along Harford Road, inviting pedestrians to patronize the many shops, restaurants, and service businesses.
LANNINGSMITH fabricated the 3d aspects of the project. The “Rampin’ Over” ADA curb ramps provide adjustable height mobility access midblock. The modular “Wingin’ It” hinged partitions are set at different angles to appropriately frame spatial distance. Recycled industrial drum planters anchor the separators, provide beautification, and serve as protective barriers for curb-lyfe enthusiasts. Shade sails and benches provide added pedestrian comfort for outdoor hangs.
Since installing the space local businesses have reported an increase in foot traffic and sales. During the warm months merchants and shoppers filled the pedestrian spaces with activity, especially during the locally organized First Fridays evening event series. The Curbside Commons has proven so popular that the Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street, participating merchants, and countless residents have already expressed enthusiasm to keep the public space intact beyond the necessity of COVID-19 precautions.