Baltimore’s revitalized Inner Harbor gets a new wave of revitalization with a beautifully expanded and renovated waterfront park

On December 15, 2022, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, the organization dedicated to creating a clean, green, safe, sustainable and thriving urban waterfront for all, shared updated conceptual designs for the completion of a revitalized Rash Field Park.

The design adds five acres of state-of-the-art public space on the south side of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, one of America‘s greatest urban revitalization stories, as documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity.

As we’ve previously reported here in REVITALIZATION, the retail aspect of the original redevelopment has taken some major hits in recent years, not the least of which being COVID, so this Rash park news is very welcome.

Prepared by the international landscape architecture firm Mahan Rykiel Associates, the design builds on success from phase one, which opened in November of 2021, and takes a community-first approach to create a welcoming space for all.

Knowing how well received and full of laughter and fun the first phase of the park has been, we are very excited to present these designs and bring the project one step closer to completion,” said Laurie Schwartz, president of the Waterfront Partnership.

We are still several years from opening, but we’re excited to start the process. We are aiming to start schematic design by spring and the construction and opening schedule will depend completely on fundraising. As with all projects of this size, designs may be adjusted before reaching the final construction phase,” she added.

While the already opened portion of Rash Field Park emphasizes children’s play and discovery, phase two will focus more on recreation, wellness, and leisure with a large open lawn for field games or special events, extensive gardens, a beach and several walking paths, including a leisure walk, a nature walk, and a fitness trail with exercise equipment that borders the beach, terrace and lawn.

The Pride of Baltimore Memorial will also be relocated within the site. Other features include:

  • “The Lawn” is envisioned as a flexible space to be used as an athletic field, event space or just a relaxing spot to have a picnic or enjoy the waterfront views;
  • “The Plaza” is seen as a space where visitors can get active and play games with friends and family;
  • “The Gardens” will provide a space for city residents to reconnect with and learn about nature on a deeper level while also engaging in fitness activities and community programming; and lastly,
  • “The Beach” is planned as a space for visitors to dip their toes in the sand during a game of beach volleyball or to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Rash Field will be a park all Baltimoreans will be proud to claim as their own. It’s an exciting time to see a premier park at the Inner Harbor with a focus on nature, inclusivity and wellness,” said Jingpeng Gu, president of Mahan Rykiel.

Waterfront Partnership has been working with the Baltimore City government, citywide residents and surrounding communities, City entities and private and not-for-profit partners since 2015 to transform the outdated and concrete-dominated Rash Field into Rash Field Park, a brand-new space designed for the people of Baltimore.

Over the summer, Waterfront Partnership, along with Mahan Rykiel and Assedo Consulting, instituted a broad community engagement effort to seek input to guide the design of phase two of Rash Field Park, including community surveys, public meetings and more.

Although the first conceptual drawings were shared publicly years ago, before phase one was built, much of the public feedback remained the same. There continued to be tremendous interest in a large open grassy field for relaxing, special events and youth field games, as well as for dedicated exercise equipment, beach volleyball and the relocation of the Pride Memorial within the Park.

The most requested feature incorporated into the final design concept was more shaded areas for exercise, walking and gathering.

Phase One, which celebrated its official opening on Nov. 5, 2021, helped redefine what waterfront public spaces can be with children’s play elements like the BGE Nature Play area, Jake’s Skate Park, the Adventure Play area and the BGE Pavilion.

Rash Field Park has become a central hub for the community and city by hosting various events and free regularly scheduled programs such as Waterfront Wellness and Boards & Breakfast. Since the opening, Phase One saw an average of 1,975 visitors per day with an estimated 700,000 annual visitors.

Fundraising is underway for phase two of Rash Field Park with an initial State commitment of $3 million already made, with support from District 46 leaders including Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegates Brooke Lierman, Luke Clippinger and Robbyn Lewis.

In the coming months, Waterfront Partnership will continue to seek out additional public funds for the project before seeking private funding from the community. Early cost estimates for the project are $15 million.

All renderings courtesy of Mahan Rykiel Associates.

Learn more about Rash Field Park and view the final conceptual designs for Phase Two.

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