Eager Park is bringing people together in East Baltimore. The community-driven design of the 5.5 acre park at the core of an unprecedented $1.8 billion dollar development in East Baltimore, celebrates the history of the community and its proud residents while serving as an anchor for economic development. The live-work-play environment promotes healthy and sustainable living through design, amenities, retail mix, and opportunities for the community to come together. The park invites outdoor activities as well as community events, including concerts, graduations, farmer’s markets, and sporting events, by providing multiple spaces for people to come together and interact, including the southern plaza, amphitheater, overlook, pavilion, lawn, playground and community garden.
The park’s human-centered design strategy deployed extensive community engagement and visioning sessions to stimulate dialogue about the future of the park. The team’s process yielded a layered set of design principles based on community values, civic responsibility, cultural awareness, local history, social impact, neighborhood ownership and active play. Various user groups gave voice to the plan including long-time neighborhood residents, K-12 students and teachers, Johns Hopkins medical staff and patients, new residents and young families. Cultural identity was of prime importance to many of the long-time residents and local community from whom the design team drew inspiration.
Integrating fitness, health and wellness was of upmost importance. Beyond the pavilion are intertwining paths with exercise equipment hubs, open-field play areas, and a playground installed by the community in conjunction with national non-profit Kaboom!. Educational placards explain how bio-swales function and their role in creating and protecting a healthy, sustainable urban ecology.
Eager Park is opening up the sky to a beautiful revitalized neighborhood and is creating a stronger community that will succeed as both past and future generations look for a place to call home.
TRANSFORMATIONAL | Named by Curbed as one of “8 linear parks that have transformed cities,” Eager Park is a 5.5 acre community park at the core of a $1.8 billion dollar redevelopment in East Baltimore.
INSPIRATION | Park pathways and gathering spaces are inspired by the structural and symbolic association with the archetype of the helix, which alludes to the DNA of Baltimore native Henrietta Lacks, as well as the industrial energy of East Baltimore’s steel-making and railroad heritage.
MATERIAL | The material pallet was chosen to reflect simple yet honest materials like wood, steel and concrete that symbolize stability, strength and honesty, an embodiment of the spirit of the people of east Baltimore, both old and new.
CONTEXT DRIVERS | The landscape architect created a structure for the park based on use considerations, pedestrian movement, and anticipated desire lines. The overall path network supports a jogging and walking loop that ties to the parks core health and wellness mission.
FITNESS LOOP | The intertwining path system, inspired by the double helix DNA concept, creates a fitness loops of varying distances. Users can utilize individual blocks or a combination of blocks to customize a fitness circuit. Fitness apparatus are strategically positioned along the pathways to further enhance the wellness offerings.
ENGAGEMENT | A series of public town halls, advisory committee meetings and follow-up visioning workshop sessions engaged the community in the design for the park.
THE PAVILION | The T. Rowe Price Pavilion provides an iconic gathering space and also serves as an inspiring symbol of community, of bringing people together. The pavilion, serves as a venue for performances while also providing fully accessible flexible space for the community.
A NATURE INSPIRED DESIGN | The design of the pavilion took inspiration from nature, weaving together organic form with a light and open structural simplicity.
THE PLAZA | The Plaza serves as an open flexible space, as well as the local lunch spot, with food truck access and various seating.
WATER PLAY | An interactive fountain in the plaza along Ashland Avenue invites children and adults to play in its playful grid of jets; the water rising into the air and splashing audibly on the plaza surface. When space is needed, the splash pad is turned off and used as a flexible space.
SUSTAINABILITY | The park’s western edge was envisioned as the ecological ribbon of the park. The design, which includes native and adaptive plant species, natural materials and educational signage maximizes opportunity to interact with the natural environment, while addressing the project’s SWM requirements.
CONNECTING WITH NATURE AND PEOPLE | The park creates a long needed place for the community to engage in the environment, exercise, and play.
LEGACY & CULTURE | Prominently featured placards and phrases honor community heroes throughout the park. Most important in conveying the overall mission of the park is the statement ‘WE ARE ALL EAST BALTIMORE.’