placemaking

BCT create and BCT Grants by MJ Dame

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To encourage innovation and creative design and advance our reputation as a design and thought leader, we have initiated an in-house program to foster and develop this mission. Our BCTcreate program acknowledges that we are all very busy with work and personal responsibilities, but we want to recognize and encourage the inherent creative energy we all have as planners, architects, and designers, in a meaningful and collaborative way.

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With this spirit, we are excited to launch BCTgrants. These are time grants that are rewarded to individuals or teams (up to 4 members) for research, design competitions, community engagement projects or other creative ideas that are related to the values of BCTcreate.

BCTgrants provides flexible hours during the work week for our employees to achieve their proposed goals. Grant-worthy projects could include a white paper, design competition, or community-based projects like façade or district improvements. Proposals must include all team members, the intended goal, project statement, how it will achieve design or thought leadership, and schedule. Once approved, the individual or team can spend up to 40 hours each over a three-month period. Final projects will be presented by the individual or team to the office.

Our first grant winner!
The first team’s initial proposal sought to study the neighborhood around Lexington Market. After meeting with Kristen Mitchell from Market Center Merchants Association (MCMA), she made some recommendations for projects around this area. The BCT team documented the existing conditions of the downtown neighborhood and used sketches and photography to show how the area could be improved to keep pace with the proposed renovations to the Lexington Market. Before and after sketches of specific areas, focus on possible solutions that respond to those improvement areas discovered through the analysis.

The team completed a detailed study of the blocks around the intersection of Saratoga and Howard, where the old Provident Bank is located, and also where the Light Rail line passes. Suggestions of design enhancements to these blocks and propose project(s) to further offer development recommendations.

While our team believes a comprehensive planned approach to this study area is still needed, focusing on this particular block was essentially a microcosm of rest of this downtown district. Over the years, there have been many proposals for this area, which will enable a deeper understanding to develop reasonable proposals and both small- and larger-scale solutions. As architects and planners, we are inclined toward preservation of the turn-of-the-century architecture to enhance the existing architectural fabric where it makes sense, rather than the “superblock” approach that scrapes whole blocks.

The BCT team recently presented their ideas to Kristen Mitchell, executive director of the Market Center Merchants Association and representatives from the community.

This area has a tremendous potential!

Designing Experiences for Seniors by MJ Dame

Our expertise in the retail and food + beverage industry is an asset to the of our senior communities.

Our expertise in the retail and food + beverage industry is an asset to the of our senior communities.

BCT understands that good design has a measurable impact on experiences. Places that are authentic, unique, beautiful, and comfortable, foster the best experiences. With 20+ plus years working in the senior housing arena, (and even more working with Boomers and placemaking) and a comprehensive knowledge of all care requirements, BCT plans and designs memorable multi-generational communities.

Designing the Waterfront! by MJ Dame

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Our waterfront experience crosses the spectrum – from single-family custom-designed houses in Florida, to an exclusive resort on Kuta Bay in Bali, to waterfront redevelopment on Wardie Bay in Edinburgh, Scotland, and of course, the design of several waterfront mixed-use developments around our inner harbor in Baltimore. The diversity of projects, both in region and in magnitude, has given us the unique opportunity to provide developers with creative designs that are both distinctive and efficient functionally. We are not a “formula-driven” firm – rather, we strive to create designs that re-think and re-shape the old rules into innovative and bold works that are at the cutting edge of design. It is this perspective, that every project presents a fresh challenge – a new possibility – to re-shape the way we experience architecture, that is the foundation of our award-winning success.

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The Third Place is Changing by MJ Dame

As our apartments and workspaces get smaller, our desire to be in inspiring, socially oriented, spaces increases. So urban folk, that are young at heart, have often walked to the corner cafe and rubbed elbows with like-minded people. Because this often occurs in neighborhoods or on high street retail locations, there is one major change occurring.

Retail which often embraces and defines our public spaces is changing due to online purchasing and the demise of traditional retail channels such as the department store.

Therefore public gatherings are occurring more frequently adjacent to co-working, fitness, breweries, repair shops (bike, computer, etc.) and bars, restaurants, and entertainment uses. It is not surprising that we want to be in the midst of cool stuff. But our definition of cool stuff changes occasionally over time. Currently, when relaxing, many of us like being around activities that require dexterity and skill and pique our interest. Witness the proliferation of Bicycle Repair cafes, live music, maker markets, and art studios.

We are finding ways to cram many of these uses together and making spaces that are active 16 hours a day (if not 24) and that stimulate our senses. So this means moving some workspace and co-working space to the street level. It can also mean moving the public space to upper levels... but more on that in a future post.

Coffee shops and co-working are both changing... And becoming more alike... We are seeing more interest in "membership places" such as clubs like ww.oxfordexchange.com in Tampa. Uses under one roof include a restaurant, co-working, coffee shop, event space and retail. 

These trends are impacting the built environment. National chain stores (despite their credit ratings) are shunned. Organic, granular, and authentic are the characteristics that are prevalent in the most successful destinations. These efforts are generally more easily achieved by small entrepreneurial 'developers' like Liz Dunn in Seattle. Her self-described "skinny development" focuses on historic buildings, programming, and community focused uses.

Renovation and re-use of existing buildings will continue to grow and will complement our new structures that will focus on sustainability, natural lights, plants, and especially flexibility for uses!