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Waterfront Campus Plan

National Aquarium
An educational and ecologically restorative landscape that incorporates five distinct Chesapeake Bay watershed ecosystems.
Waterfront Campus Plan at the National Aquarium
Baltimore, MD
12.2 acres

Perched on historic shipping piers on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium is positioned to extend its mission into the waterfront just outside its doors by joining with Baltimore to green the waterfront. The Waterfront Campus Plan advances the aquarium’s mission by unifying the campus as a welcoming civic space where visitors are immersed in the natural systems and habitats of the Chesapeake Bay. An interdisciplinary team of landscape architects, planners, and architects model how urban waterfronts can improve water quality and build community by creating a thriving, green waterfront, while advancing the economic and urban success of the Inner Harbor and Downtown with renewed civic infrastructure.

The Waterfront Campus Plan expands on principles of the Inner Harbor Plan by advancing water quality and renewing civic infrastructure. The project goals are to welcome and engage people, inspire conservation action, restore ecosystems and serve as a living lab to foster community engagement.

Studies of the water’s edge look at alternatives to bring people closer to the water. Careful analysis was given to ephemeral conditions, including how the user experience changes with low and high tide.

A series of immersive experiences is proposed across campus. Multi-sensory installations engage visitors on campus, connecting them with authentic Chesapeake Bay watershed habitats.

A comprehensive approach to wayfinding and identity on the aquarium’s campus enhances the visitor experience and aids with navigation through a complex urban setting. The plan creates a more welcoming and memorable visitor experience with site, signage and amenity improvements. New identity signs reflect and celebrate the iconic architecture of the National Aquarium while enhanced wayfinding guides visitors to ticketing and main entrances. Unique interpretive signage helps to identify and explain various ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay and creates more gathering spaces for visitors, increasing opportunities for them to enjoy the National Aquarium’s exterior campus.

The glass triangles of the National Aquarium’s roofline are an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline, but they pose a challenge to migrating birds. To support the organization’s ecological mission by preventing collisions, a large graphic application of a dot pattern recommended by the American Bird Conservancy was digitally printed on optically clear vinyl film and applied to the reflective surface of the glass at high-strike locations. The graphic includes the aquarium’s wordmark and an interpretive panel within the graphic highlights the purpose of the design to visitors. This customized solution prevents bird strikes without detracting from the building’s distinctive form and adds a desired branded presence in a key location.



Maryland ASLA Merit Award


AIA Maryland Excellence in Design for Urban Design and Master Planning Honor Award
Studio Gang - EcoSlip Concept
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