Architects revive idea of extending stadium site Plan would place Ravens facility on downtown waterfront

June 29, 1996|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Local architects are reviving a plan to extend the Ravens stadium site several blocks to the south -- creating a second downtown waterfront that could offer stadium water views, fountains and museums to draw people year-round.

The plan would require the purchase of a largely industrial site dotted with old, mostly empty brick warehouses and the city animal shelter. The architects, who drew the idea from earlier stadium studies, visualize exhibits, entertainment and sports-related attractions.

"With a second waterfront, the sky's the limit," said Klaus Philipsen, a Baltimore architect who is heading the group.

He and others see the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River -- which lies just south of the stadium site -- as the key to a successful design for the 20-acre site. It would connect the waterfront to downtown and supply a theme that could be repeated with fountains and other water features, Philipsen said. Football fans could enjoy water views as well as city views.

Although the architects formed the group on their own and are pushing the proposal independently, they have discussed the idea with the Maryland Stadium Authority, site designers and stadium architects. City planners and the Baltimore Development Corp. will meet with them next week to hear the details.

Most say they like the idea, if financing can be found.

"We'll take a look and see what they're talking about," said Charles Graves, city director of planning. The property had been suggested several times as part of the stadium site and once as a possible training location. But it was rejected as unnecessary.

"I think it's a wonderful idea, personally," said Alice Hoffman, project manager for the Stadium Authority. "But we have no authority to buy property between the stadium and the Middle Branch."

One warehouse owner who was approached about selling his land asked for $10 million, she said. The talks stopped there.

Creating a park-like setting for the football stadium remains the goal of Wallace, Roberts and Todd, the Philadelphia firm that is designing landscaping and other features surrounding the stadium, according to Tim Korbelak, the lead designer.

WRT's plans, to be presented to the Baltimore Architectural Review Board on July 11, "have more green surface lawn areas, and more trees and grass than we have on the baseball end of the site," Korbelak said.

Financing the expansion is at the core of any serious consideration for the project.

"It could be a combination of state, federal and local dollars, but it really would depend on the uses and limitations of the property," said Graves. "I don't want to speculate."

Besides access to the waterfront, Philipsen's group aims for a plan that is well integrated with surrounding neighborhoods and that establishes a link to the Gwynns Falls Greenway -- a 14-mile system of trails stretching from Leakin Park to the Inner Harbor that will be constructed beginning next winter.

"But our concept is really driven by access to the waterfront," said Philipsen, who co-chairs the Urban Design Committee of the American Institute of Architects' Baltimore chapter. "We think there are huge opportunities that need to be realized."

Designs for the stadium, which is on a rapid construction timetable, have elicited complaints from city planners and the Architectural Review Board, who say the plans are unimaginative and incompatible with neighboring Oriole Park.

The public can contribute ideas Monday night when the Camden Yards Task Force meets at 6 p.m. at the Stadium Authority offices.

Pub Date: 6/29/96

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