The Maritime Museum of Baltimore

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Virginia Tech

The Maritime Museum finds its home in a corner of the Baltimore harbor near the intersection of Boston Street and Clinton Street in Canton. As an institution focusing on the historical context of Baltimore, I chose to align the building with Fort McHenry; a National Monument and Historic Shrine as well as a place that I have enjoyed visiting since childhood. The site itself, is an area that my family used frequently. Afternoons were spent in the small park located not far from a public works building and parking lot. The city keeps most of their unused equipment and vehicles behind that building and it creates the only unpleasant corner of an otherwise well-developed intersection. This corner is also a focal point for commuters driving into the city along Boston Street. I always thought of the great potential the corner had and how it could be helped. If I were to take away the public works building and the refuse surrounding it and replace it with an extended green space and a building that people would enjoy using, I believe it could revitalize the area and bring visitors from the city center and into a neighborhood that is only used by residents and passers-by.

The museum will include offices, archives, a restoration lab, small exhibition spaces as well as the main gallery; an enclosed dry-dock which displays a skipjack, Kathryn. During the design process, I searched for many historical ships and felt as though it was essential for the ship to be of Maryland origin. I chose Kathryn because of her reasonable size and history. She was built in 1901 and endured many years of service in the oyster-dredging industry before undergoing extensive reconstruction in 1954. Over the past few decades, Kathryn has become a National Historic Landmark and she is currently being restored in Tilghman Island, Maryland. In theory, The Maritime Museum of Baltimore would offer a home to the newly restored Kathryn.

The materials, form, and construction were chosen to reference the craft of ship-building. Engineered wood is used as the main structure and is exposed in the main exhibition areas of the building. This approach would create a thoughtful connection between the artifacts and an environment similar to those they previously existed within. As for the central space of the museum, the roofof the dry-dock gallery is designed to resemble the formwork used in ship construction. The curvature changes from bay to bay eventually ending at its highest peak over the harbor. The form conveys a gesture of the building opening itself toward the water and welcoming the view of the historic fort across the harbor; thus creating a special transitional moment where the water meets the land.

Working on this project has been an absolutely enjoyable experience. I was able to work with a meaningful site and create a proposition that I have thought about for a long time. From this project, I would take away the sense of detail and how the construction of a building can have a direct relationship to its program as well as the sensibility of designing a project that is not only site specific but also finds context within the city.

Architecture, Museum, Baltimore, Harbor, Maritime