Maryland Institute COllege of Art (MICA) & North Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Role: Ethnography, Journey Mapping
How might we improve the aesthetic appeal of North Avenue in a way that thoughtfully integrates the local community?
Establish a "pop-up park" that can be installed on vacant lots throughout the neighborhood to encourage budding entrepreneurs.
Our team initially concluded that we wanted to keep our subject matter highly localized and actionable. We began by exploring the area around North Avenue in Baltimore. It was quickly discovered was that there are a lack of trash and recycling receptacles throughout the area. In our initial assumptions, we ideated on creating recycling bins that could clearly indicate what materials could be recycled and where.
After speaking with neighborhood associations and interviewing residents, however, we found that litter wasn't the main issue that concerned them. Our team learned that North Avenue was a largely commercial center, with many Baltimoreans coming through the area on their way to the eastern or western sectors of the city. Many of our initial assumptions about the area had been incorrect, and we chose to pivot to create a more neighborhood-centered solution.
Inspired by the Station North YNot Lot and entrepreneurs at Impact Hub, we chose to examine how vacant lots throughout the city were being used. There are approximately 14,000 vacant lots in Baltimore City, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development. 25% of the lots are owned by the city, and have been opened to the public for ventures such as community gardens, art spaces and more. Our team chose to introduce the idea of a "Pop-up Park" that could be hosted on a vacant lot on North Avenue. Much like the YNot Lot, it could provide local residents the ability to utilize the space for a period of time. The Pop-up Park could also serve as a start-up space for budding entrepreneurs, providing them with a temporary brick-and-mortar space in which to sell their wares.
Our team presented a lo-fi prototype to the Design Leadership cohort in August 2017.
Inspired by the project, several members of our team have adopted a lot on North Avenue via the Vacants to Value program. We are planning to develop the lot into a community-driven youth art space with the Greenmount West Community Association beginning in Spring 2018. Check back for more details soon!