Center for Social Design
In Fall 2014 MICA Social Design students, in partnership with Southwest Partnership and Gensler Architects, collaboratively researched Baltimore’s Hollins Market and surrounding-area businesses through one-on-one conversations with residents, customers, vendors and shop owners.The Center for Social Design (CSD) at MICA previously partnered with a variety of Baltimore public and private organizations to create socially-minded design solutions. This studio course is the first CSD class to partner multiple MICA graduate programs around a core theme.
HOW MIGHT WE activate Hollins Market to engage the community in a shared social space.
BY activating with hyper-local makers, vendors and businesses from within market and in boundaries of SOWEBO, through events at Hollins Market targeting underutilized existing spaces.
- Southwest Baltimore is not well known in Baltimore
- Negative stigma of Southwest Baltimore being dangerous
- A lot of abandoned buildings in need of major repairs
From the beginning of our on-site research Biff Browning, neighborhood activist and organizer, along with Elaine Asal and Amanda Allen of Gensler Architects, introduced the Social Design team to many of the community assets in Hollins Roundhouse. These people, places and institutions within Hollins Market and the surrounding streets play a vital role in this neighborhood.
The Social Design team took at two pronged approach to the initial investigation:
1.Consider the atmosphere (signage, vendor stalls, interior and exterior architecture) of Hollins Market
2. Partner with three local business, one inside the Market and two on surrounding street
Compared to other markets, we saw that Hollins Market wasn’t an inviting place. From the outside, there is no way to tell if the building is a public market. As you enter into the market there is a lack of unity and visual appeal, it is dark and people are not encouraged to overstay their visit, it is not a place that invites social exchanges between locals. Hollins Market is the only Baltimore public market that is the longest running and presents the greatest challenges in reviving this once thriving commercial anchor. Located in a spot with little traffic, one of the biggest efforts is attracting local and new clientele. This is why we decided to work with surrounding businesses in the district in order to create a local experience around the Hollins Market District. The goal was to use the Market as an anchor to this new district experience and enable a space that locals could claim and identify their own ‘gems’.