Now that the Inner Harbor promenade is nearing completion, city planners may want to explore ways to "close the loop" around the harbor by linking the south shore with the southern tip of Pier 5, according to architects hired to design the $200 million Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration.
Michael Davies, an architect with the Richard Rodgers Partnership in London, told members of Baltimore's Architectural Review Board yesterday that he thinks attractions on the south side of the harbor would benefit if water-taxi service was increased or if a pedestrian bridge was built to link the Rusty Scupper restaurant on Key Highway with the southern tip of Pier 5 near where the Harrison Inn opened last year.
Mr. Davies said his clients were not in a position to propose exactly how to "complete the circle around the harbor, but the design team has been considering the possibility as part of its initial planning for the maritime center."
"The opportunity of closing the loop would certainly be worth investigating, because it would irrigate the south side" of the harbor, he said. "It would be a great gesture to everything in the Inner Harbor, to tie it all together into an urban walk. It would help everybody."
Mr. Davies was one of three architects who discussed projects yesterday during the monthly meeting of the Architectural Review Board, which was open to reporters for the first time in its 30-year history.
The Columbus Center team did not present any specific designs for that project, which is planned for the north end of Piers 5 and 6. But they spent more than an hour discussing possible design approaches to the project, including whether to put parking underground or above ground and how to give it an identity on the city skyline.
Mr. Davies said that members of the non-profit board planning the Columbus Center will travel to Mr. Rogers' office in London later this month for a three-day "working weekend" to discuss specific design alternatives for the project, which is scheduled for completion by 1994.
In addition to a discussion of the planning strategies for Columbus Center, which has received more than $10 million in federal funds, the board considered revised plans for the $7.4 million Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, planned for the southeast corner of Franklin Street and Park Avenue, and an $18 million steam-generating plant for Baltimore Thermal Energy Corp., planned for a site on West Saratoga Street between Greene Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
The review board is one of four groups reviewing plans for the library, which will be connected to the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library but will operate independently from it.
Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation is scheduled to review the latest plans for the library during a meeting today at 417 E. Fayette St.
The city panel reviews designs for most major buildings planned for downtown Baltimore, including those in Charles Center, the Inner Harbor, Market Center and Camden Yards renewal areas. Members include Mario Schack, Phoebe Stanton, George Qualls, George Notter and Colden Florance.
Walter Sondheim Jr., chairman of Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc., agreed this fall to open meetings to reporters after a series of discussions involving him and editors of The Sun.
Mr. Sondheim was present for most of the meeting, along with half a dozen others staff members from Center City Inner Harbor, architect Robert Quilter from the Department of Housing and Community Development and architect Donald Duncan from the Department of Planning.