Students propose new uses for site of Baltimore Arena


December 12, 1990|By Edward Gunts

The site of the Baltimore Arena could be an ideal location for development of a major new hotel, office and theater complex should the arena itself ever be declared obsolete or replaced by a new facility in Camden Yards, according to a group of architecture students who have been studying the property as part of a semester-long design exercise.

Eleven students from Cornell University presented possible strategies for redeveloping the 3.5-acre site at Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place during a meeting this week with representatives of Baltimore's planning and housing departments and Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc.

The budding architects had been asked to suggest ways the property could be reused if the state constructs a domed football stadium in Camden Yards that also could accommodate the indoor soccer and hockey teams that now use the Arena.

Many of the students proposed replacing the 1960s-era Arena with a series of mid- and high-rise buildings that would be a continuation of the Hopkins Plaza development to the east. All of them proposed a pedestrian walkway that would reconnect East Redwood Street and West Redwood Street, which were cut off from each other when the Arena was built, and open space in the middle of the block.

One student also proposed that Liberty Street be extended southward in its current direction to cut diagonally through the site, providing a direct link between Saratoga Street and Camden Yards. Others proposed that the area take on more of the character of a theater district.

Mario Schack, a Baltimore architect and professor in charge of the Cornell's Washington-based design program, said the student recommendations show that the Arena site provides more than enough room to accommodate a mixed-use complex on the order of the Gallery at Harborplace.

"We gave it strictly as an academic problem, but if the football stadium goes ahead it becomes a real issue," Mr. Schack said. "It could be a major city development parcel."

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