West Shore Park is located in the “heart” of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, perched along the water’s edge between the Maryland Science Center and the Baltimore Visitor’s Center. Hord Coplan Macht teamed with the design firm of Thomas Balsley and Associates to plan and design the new park.
When Baltimore’s Harborplace was developed, there were “leftover” spaces comprising the western shore of the Inner Harbor. These disparate elements included the Dockmaster for the marina, a Police substation, a harbor cruise business, a small parking lot and even a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stand. The space was not cohesive and little thought was given to its use. Beyond that, it was inundated with vehicular traffic servicing the marina and the cruise boats. The challenges and goals were to unify the disparate elements into a park that was worthy of being in such a prominent place and to bring it up to par with surrounding architecture.
The park was designed as a contemporary piece to complement the structures around it. Because the park is raised, much of the seating is designed to be on the waterfront edge to the east because people tend to gather on edges.
The Park can be entered from any angle but there are two very important vantage points the team recognized. First from the promenade next to the harbor, visitors discover it as they walk along the harbor. The hard edge of the steps and railings above the promenade greet the visitor and ramps and stairs invite them into the park. A vehicle drop-off point is the second important vantage point. City tourism agencies are using it as a starting point for visits to the downtown and Inner Harbor. Conceived as the threshold to the city, it provides a place to gain orientation to the downtown.
The park contains a large flexible lawn for concerts and events, park pavilions, horticultural gardens, sitting areas and an interactive fountain.