Mahan Rykiel was selected by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore to re-imagine Rash Field to be Baltimore’s destination location for a diversity of uses and users from across the demographic spectrum who are interested in health & wellness, arts & culture, local food, and urban nature. Planning for such uses involved a diligent public engagement process that necessitated numerous community stakeholder meetings and solicited input through a website, surveys and focus groups.
Based upon the input provided via the engagement process, a plan for Rash Field emerged that will transform Rash Field into a location for community members and tourists interested in play, health & wellness, urban nature, education and arts & culture.
Opened in November 2021, Rash Field’s visitations went from a pre Phase I redevelopment of 5-10 visitors/day max to a post construction high of 1500/day and surveys show that visitors come from all around the city, as well as regional visitors who happen upon the park.
Baltimore Waterfront Partnership
A PLACE TO CELEBRATE BALTIMORE, ITS PEOPLE, AND ITS SPIRIT | With over 14 million visitors a year, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the city’s gateway to the national treasure of the Chesapeake Bay. Along the promenade you’ll find the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, restaurants and nationally significant heritage sites and neighborhoods.
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY | Rash Field is perfectly positioned to be the heart that pumps energy into the Inner Harbor. Instead of a family friendly environment that draws people throughout the city and region, studies pointed to challenges in access, micro-climate and limited park use.
COMMUNITY LED | Planning for the Rash Field Redevelopment involved a diligent public engagement process that necessitated numerous community stakeholder meetings and solicited input through a website, surveys and focus groups. Visualizations of public input data was reported back to lead discussions on the future of the park.
OPENING THE EDGES | Through an iterative process, the design team worked to blend salient points of the community feedback into the plan. Parallel to the integration of public input, the team strove to open the edges, create welcoming arrival points, celebrate water views, and design places for gathering, learning, and playing.
PROGRAMMING | Located in Baltimore’s core tourism district, the public engagement process presented an overwhelming desire for the park to serve as an amenity for Baltimore residents. Themes identified and incorporated into the design include: recreation & play, education & ecology, programming & entertainment and health & wellness.
ADVENTURE PLAY | Imaginative and interactive play spaces incorporate opportunities for children to learn about their surroundings and the environment. Various features like boulders, climbing mounts, slides, towers, and grass mounds offer children the opportunity to take calculated risks to stretch themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
NATURE PLAY | Nature inspired play structures that engage children in a setting that is both physically and mentally stimulating. Some of the features include water play, sand play, and various pathway surfaces, as well as balancing features for various skill levels.
THE SKATE PARK | Through the public input process, a concept for a skate park, designed by nationally recognized skate park design team, emerged. The skate park provides much needed dedicated space for the skate boarding community of all ages and abilities in the Inner Harbor and Downtown.
THE PAVILION | The pavilion is the focal point of the park with bustling activity emanating out into the surrounding park areas. The pavilion is programmed with a local eatery, rental and kiosk, public restrooms, and shaded outdoor seating overlooking the park activity and Inner Harbor. The pavilion’s central plaza provides shaded space for organized events and group exercise. The Pavilion’s overlook provides the opportunity for the perfect “Selfie.”
SUSTAINABILITY | Rash Field is a fully remediated brownfield site planted with 125 Mid-Atlantic native shade and ornamental trees. Over 70% of shrubs planted are Mid-Atlantic Natives and serve as habitat and pollinator sources for birds and pollinating insects. Over 90% of the ornamental grasses and perennials are Mid-Atlantic natives. Integrated storm water management offers educational opportunity as well as visual interest year round. Integrated storm water management solutions enhance the overall aesthetic of the park and offer educational opportunities.
MULTI-GENERATIONAL | While keeping age appropriate activities defined within their own space, the park intentionally encourages multigenerational interactions and interests. A father and son watch a new friend do a trick at the skate park, a grandmother enjoys the partial shade of a bench watching children at play, a couple waves to their friends down on the big play mound and the wonderful skyline of the city rests in the backdrop.
INVITING BALTIMORE INTO RASH FIELD | Opened in November 2021, Rash Field’s visitations went from a pre Phase I redevelopment of 5-10 visitors/day max to a post construction high of 1500/day and surveys show that visitors come from all around the city, as well as regional visitors who happen upon the park.
CONTINUED COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT | After the completion of Phase I, the design team re-engaged the community through a series of events and pop up engagement opportunities at planned events. Phase I provided a densely layered program that centered around the pavilion, nature and adventure play, and a skate park, while Phase II offers an opportunity to make use of flexible open space, and more areas for sport recreation, relaxation and connecting with nature.
STAKEHOLDER GROUPS | Rash Field used to be ballfields and event space but as programmatic needs changed over the years, there was an encroachment of the space, leaving the field fragmented and less functional. Now, with 67% of the site taken up by volleyball and a memorial, the remaining lawn panels are not suitable for sports or other uses. A complete reconfiguration is needed to meet the diverse needs of the community.
LAYERING PROGRAMMING AND CIRCULATION | A path network emerges that frames Phase II’s six main program areas: The Lawn, The Plaza, The Gardens, The Terrace, The Beach, and The Pride. The path network offers a variety of experiences with a fitness trail, leisure walk, nature walk, overlook path and potential water access. The trails vary in material and size. While the nature trail is intended to be rustic and narrow, fitness trails are designed wider and paved for more traffic volume.
RASH FIELD PARK PHASE II DESIGN | The park’s main goal is to promote nature, inclusivity, and wellness by connecting people with the environment and encouraging physical activity and mental well-being. Feedback showed a desire for more social, sports, and event spaces, improved harbor connections, shaded areas, seating, greenery, and dedicated flexible spaces for sand and lawn activities.
BROWNFIELD REMEDIATION | Rash Field is a post industrial brownfield site contaminated from a variety of dockside uses. Rather than remove the contaminated soils, the clean fill cap is draped over the existing site, and contaminated soils are buried in strategic locations – resulting in unique site design features such as undulating garden trails, and a terraced amphitheater.
THE BEACH | The Beach is a versatile venue that can host up to six regulation volleyball matches at the same time, while also providing ample space for traditional beach lounge area functions and shaded lawns. As you follow the nature path, you’ll notice how the local waterfront and riparian vegetation gradually merge with the upland plantings that adorn The Garden. This seamless blend of native species highlights the richness of the Chesapeake Bay landscape.
THE PLAZA | Located at the heart of the park’s path network, the Plaza is a bustling hub of activity that offers something for everyone. Roller skating enthusiasts can show off their moves on our state-of-the-art rink, while those looking for a more leisurely pace can enjoy table games such as ping pong and Foosball. For those seeking a bit of friendly competition, pickle-ball courts are ready for action.
THE LAWN & SHADE LAWN | The Lawn and Shade Lawn provide much needed flexible green space for Downtown Baltimore. The Shade Lawn has movable furniture and open areas for picnics, while the Great Lawn offers room for events and sports with two scrimmage-sized fields. Additionally, the overlooking terrace provides a stunning backdrop of the city skyline, making it an excellent venue for performances and events.
A PARK FOR ALL OF BALTIMORE | The Rash Field Phase II redesign includes layered programming that caters to a diverse range of users, fostering community bonds and bringing Baltimoreans together. With its engaging activities and vibrant offerings, Rash Field is poised to become a beloved destination for visitors and locals alike, leaving a lasting impression on all who visit.