Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Office Greenspace...Urban Oasis
When you work in an urban environment you get used to the buildings around you, the noise on the street, and the claustrophobic feeling you have when you're stuck inside most of the day. For many people that could be on the umpteenth floor of an office building, far removed from the people below. Sure you get some awesome views, but you're still inside. The real treasure is the outside space.
Many buildings downtown have plazas and open space. Charles Center for example has a huge plaza between the state and federal buildings. The World Trade Center has the harbor promenade, and City Hall and surrounding areas have War Memorial Plaza. What all this places don't truly have, and what are harder to find is the public green space...the urban oasis.
Like water in the desert, you would probably need a camel to help you find them, but when you're there it's almost as magical. Now I'm not talking about the berms that line Charles Street. I'm talking about the places that cut out the noise of the city, where if you weren't looking, you wouldn't know you are in an urban spot.
Federal Hill Park is the closest thing we have to an urban square. Sitting above Key Highway overlooking the Harbor, it's green it's quiet, it's breezy, but it isn't accessible for most of the working folks on the other side of the Harbor. University of Maryland has University Square Park and Johns Hopkins Hospital has some of it's inner courtyards (I get to partake in the the Courtyard behind the SON...drowns out all sounds with the fountain). The Harbor Promenade is a great place to be outside, but it's busy and doesn't completely block the noise from Light Street (or the tourists).
Unfortunately Baltimore is not city with a great urban square in its center city. DC has many, Philadelphia has 4 (well really 3.5 Logan is more a traffic circle now), and New York there are more than you can shake a stick at. One good candidate is Center Plaza, which was redone in 2007 and has added more green and shady trees to Downtown. Charles Center, you should be next. Imagine if Rash Field were ever revamped and greened.
If you have a space like this, use it! Take your lunch outside, enjoy the public outside green space. It'll do you good.