City Arts 2 is a 80,449 sq. ft, 4-story development located on a 1.17 acre site in Baltimore, Maryland. It is built on infill sites and funded primarily through the State’s nine percent low income housing tax credit program. Situated less than a half mile east of Baltimore’s Penn Station and a quarter mile south of major bus line hub at Greenmount and North Avenues, the building is located along a bus transit route and has a storage room large enough to provide bike storage for all residents in the building. The development includes an apartment mix designed to best meet the demand of the users by incorporating studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom residential apartments.
The site was challenged with several easements running through and surrounding the site including an alley going through the middle of the site thus playing a pivotal role in the massing and design of this building. The existing neighborhood is a mix of town homes, apartment buildings and converted old warehouse buildings. Greenmount West was more than 56% vacant and contained more than 300 artists living in less than ideal conditions. The development team conducted hundreds of interviews with artists to find out what they needed in their housing. A number of themes emerged: Number one being affordable housing and proximity to amenities which supported their artistic endeavors. Architecturally, big windows, lots of storage, open space and easy-to-clean Resilient floors were high on the priorities list. All were incorporated into the project. Artists also wanted the look of an old industrial building, so the buildings are designed to fit the industrial fabric of the neighborhood.
The building is an “L” shaped building with the longer leg of the building being a four-story slab on grade structure facing Greenmount Avenue. This portion of the building spans an alley which was allowed to pass under the building thus prompting the North and South massing to be connected by a “bridge” element. This bridge connection was built over a steel column and beam frame work and houses units on levels 3 and 4 and a fitness room and work room on level 2. The North part of the building mass connected by the bridge was designed with stoops in front of the studio units to give the facade a town house feel in reaction to the residential town house community to the north. The southern half of the building was treated more like a warehouse apartment building which was a nod to the more industrial nature of the buildings located to the south of this building. The top floor of the bridge facade was stepped back to give the bridge a two-story read to make it feel more like a connecting bridge element still keeping all the levels to accommodate the unit count. A similar gesture of painting the fourth floor with a darker color and switching the material from Brick to siding was employed in the north volume of the building to lower the scale of the façade. The bridge which was the connector piece was also treated with corrugated metal panels to clearly distinguish this connecting tissue from the north and south massing. The smaller leg of the “L” shaped building was raised on a concrete piloti to accommodate parking and the easements going
under the building.
The first floor facing Greenmount avenue houses a Dance studio, a multipurpose room with computer stations, kitchenette and seating which includes a mix of couches, reclaimed wood table and chairs and high-top counters and stools facing the main street along its storefront windows. It also has a bike storage for a 100% of its residents, laundry room and a media lounge. The upper floors accommodate large multipurpose co-working studio spaces with slop sinks, a fitness room, storage spaces with storage cages and resident units.