Rotterdam, Netherlands–based urban design firm West 8 has been named the winner of the Middle Branch Waterfront Revitalization Competition, which called for submissions to restore the area's wetlands and connect the surrounding neighborhoods with recreational parks and trails. The firm's winning proposal will bring new life to an 11-mile stretch of Baltimore's Patapsco River shoreline, "recreat[ing] and redefin[ing] the blue green heart of Baltimore," according to a press release from the firm.
In the winning design, West 8 proposed reusing dredges from Baltimore's port to control the water and sediment flow along the waterfront's bay. With the expectation that this will create new marshlands overtime, the team also proposed an 11-mile ring of multiuse piers, boardwalks, and structures to create a more community-focused environment.
"A future phase of the design reimagines the iconic Hanover Street Bridge as a park which completes parkland ring and connects people from all walks of life to each other and to the Middle Branch," said West 8 design director Adriaan Geuze in the same release.
The three finalists for the competition, which included the New York-based firms James Corner Field Operations and Hargreaves Jones, were revealed in April. After the announcement, residents were invited to visit an exhibition where they could learn more about the shortlisted designs and add their own comments. A five person jury then ranked the teams on elements such as technical merit, feasibility of the ideas, ability to integrate community feedback, originality of design vision, and responsiveness to the competition's objectives.
"I am extremely excited to learn the jury recommended West 8 as the landscape architecture firm to advance the Middle Branch Waterfront Plan," said Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young. “We received three impressive proposals, but I agreed with the jury or community leaders and experts in the field that West 8's vision most closely aligns with what residents want to see in their communities."