American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Student Awards
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Site Plan.
A rich human spirit and humor underlie the blight and abuse that Baltimore has been victim to in the last few decades. This "first imprerrisons" collage is a personal express of the history that prevails and the caricature of the history that prevails and the caricature of a city that is produced through recent development projects that privatize the water front and don't appear to benefit the residents.
Gwynnes Falls Watershed.
Residential development in relation to the Middle Branch & Inner Harbor.
Industrial development in relation to the Middle Branch & Inner Harbor.
Contaminated sites (shown in yellow) and 10 yr flood plains.
Site Plan Detail.



Adorning Baltimore: A non-native solution to local problems
Amelia Magida, Student ASLA
University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia, Pennyslvania
Faculty Advisors: Lucinda Sanders, ASLA; David Gouverneur

"Deliberately using bioremediation in a system of tanks was very progressive! The quality of design is strong and the innovative water purification was superior."

— 2008 Student Awards Jury Comments

Project Statement:

Water has historically and metaphorically been a force behind Baltimore’s image and growth. The contamination and gentrification of the waterfront were the generative issues behind the proposal for a non-native oyster production park. Treating both a blighted neighborhood and water with mollusks that can filter heavy metals a clean industry is created where cleansing contaminated waters is an open and interactive process. Non-native oysters coupled with native plantings and recreational spaces create a destination for learning and a place for enjoyment.

Project Narrative:

THE MIDDLE BRANCH OF BALTIMORE’S PATAPSCO RIVER is a quiet basin where layers of industrial history and ecological blunders are collected and stored. From the west the Gwynns Falls watershed has fed the river with decades of discarded waste, iron ore from 18th century mining, sediment from 19th century forest clearing, and cadmium and fertilizers from 20th century industry all carried by streams or runoff find themselves in the Middle Branch.

The Middle Branch presently exists as a relic of ecological foul-ups, but it is the river and waterfront that hold the potential for Baltimore’s social and environmental rejuvenation. Compared to the bustle of the city’s tourist driven Inner Harbor or the density of an increasingly privatized waterfront, the Middle Branch lacks involvement of people and activity but is capable of hosting both.

The neighborhoods surrounding the middle branch are separated from the waterfront by highways, active railroads and expanses of industrial or post-industrial lots. These neighborhoods transition east of west from a gentrifying peninsula to an isolated and blighted stretch of southwest Baltimore. This project proposes a new clean industry and remediation process that uses of pearl oysters to filter heavy metals from contaminated water and create an economy that supports the neighborhoods both new and existing so people can connect to the water and to a water cleansing process.

The zooremediation culture reestablishes a historical connection to Baltimore’s role in the once thriving oyster business but alters that model by using non-native pearl oysters that can filter the heavy metals present in the water that native oysters simply can not do at. Each element of the remediation process holds economic potential such as processing the oyster pearls to extracting cadmium from the waste for car batteries or developing pharmaceutical uses for the algae and plankton grown to feed the oysters. Each step of the process, from growth of oyster spat to harvesting can be an interactive experience that connects the community to the cleansing process and ultimately connects people to the water.

The 85 acre site is accessed by a proposed light rail stop or by from the Baltimore/Washington Parkway that runs west of the site. A framework of paths constructed of bright industrial materials such as yellow rubber safety tiles and recycled tires, guide visitors through out the park and to the water’s edge and expansive views. The paths vary in width to accommodate combinations of pedestrians, runners or bicyclists. Within the framework of paths are fields of Chesapeake Bay watershed grasses or recreational spaces for games of frisbee, baseball or picnic grounds.
The oyster channels are fed by either newly opened streams or by the rising tide of the middle branch. They alternate by water source and create an interlocking cleansing system of watershed and water body. Each channel is actually a series of pools that step up or down depending on how water runs through them, they also safely contain the non-native species. The heavy-metal contamination of the water makes breeding or spat survival difficult, minimizing the threat of pearl oyster invasion. The ultimate goal of the park is to cleanse the water to support native habitat and to translate an industry into a contemporary and sustainable climate. A feeding network of plankton, algae and water that is cleansed by the oyster is piped throughout the park. Green pools of plankton run parallel to the oyster channels. These large, covered and living pools serve as attractors or gathering areas of people. The plankton then travel through pipes into below ground rooms that store and grow tanks of algae. The algae and plankton are collected, fed and processed by the oysters. The algae growth rooms are open to visitors and reached by stairs that descend from the public level of the park.

New industry, jobs and opportunities bring a new neighborhood and development (shown in medium/dark gray block formations). Other than oyster productivity the park includes a wide water channel (located in the middle of the oyster channels) for public enjoyment. A new market looks out onto the wide channel where visitors can stroll along the water edge, aquatic vegetation proliferates and kayakers can enjoy the shallow and gentle water.


Transversal sections cut through below ground algae tank rooms, oyster channels and park.
Longitudinal section cut through oyster channels, football stadium in distance.
View from park over looking the Middle Branch and interstate 395 beyond.
Below ground algae room where oyster harvesting can be viewed.
View from oyster channels looking away from Middle Branch.
View from water of public water channel, market in distance.
Plant Species.
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