The goals for this project were two-fold. One was to serve the local community of Baltimore County by providing a set of urban design proposals based on different development scenarios which could then serve as the foundation of a public discussion of what the nature of the town of Owings Mills ought to be.
The second goal is broader in nature. Because of the extraordinary confluence of issues and conditions at this one site, Owings Mills has the potential to serve as a significant model, with national implications, in which to explore and test a variety of ideas related to the problems of creating new sustainable towns within the urban fringe. Because of its unique combination of mass-transit infrastructure and a sensitive ecological condition, Owings Mills presents an ideal venue in which to consider the challenge of developing new forms of urban pattern and infrastructure that are both humane and environmentally sustainable. One of the aims of the project were to develop ideas about a pedestrian-oriented urban environment that rely on new ideas of infrastructure, particularly in the area of stormwater runoff management, and uses these, much as 19th century urban designers and landscape architects did, to develop new ideas about urban public space as well. A more contemporary example of this pairing occurs at the recently completed Riverbank State Park in New York City which is constructed on the roof of a sewage treatment facility.
Although this project focused on making specific design proposals for Owings Mills, it might also serve as a prototypical model which could be useful to many other communities facing similar problems. Through new designs strategies which propose specific solutions to more general problems we hope to create model applications which could be tested even more rigorously in the future. For example, the development of prototypes of integrated urban drainage and stormwater treatment systems which could operate at high densities and simultaneously provide usable public space would be a significant contribution to urban design.
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