Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects has been involved in the redesign projects at Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena, Towanda Recreation Center, and Cylburn Arboretum Carriage House.

BCRP Druid Hill Park Comfort Station

BCRP Druid Hill Park Comfort Station

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When residents of Baltimore want to immerse themselves in an oasis of green, they head to one of the 262 municipal parks spread across the city.

Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects has been a champion of the recreation areas that serve the city of about 620,000 people.

Beginning with designing pool houses for the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, the firm has led numerous improvement projects through its on-call contracts with the Baltimore City agency.

Most recently, it updated a playground, added a water feature, and renovated an interior gathering space to create an outdoor feel at ABC Park. It transformed the Bocek Park Field House into three flexible spaces. And it redesigned comfort stations to match the style of the 1940s buildings in Druid Hill Park. Construction is underway at all three parks.

Architect Lauren Myatt has been involved in all of the redesign projects at the parks.

“Most of our work with Recreation and Parks to this point has been to renovate and improve existing park spaces due to dated conditions, aging infrastructure, and also involving community needs,” she says.

Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena

One of two public skating rinks in Baltimore, Mt. Pleasant is heavily used by residents and private groups and is home ice for local college and high school teams. Sorely lacking were facilities in the locker rooms and a comfortable place for parents to wait while their children skate.

BCRP Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena Site (above) and floor plan (below)

BCRP Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena Site (above) and floor plan (below)

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“What we’re seeking to improve is how the facility will work for teams and organizations - and provide a nicer general space,” Myatt explains. “The lobby area will have a better snack bar associated with it and a better place for parents to hang out while their kids use the rink.”

Restrooms are being enlarged and showers, sinks, and toilets are being added in the four locker rooms. Cosmetic upgrades also are being made.

The rink is closed as construction progresses, but it should reopen by the end of the year.

BCRP Towanda Proposed Floor Plan

BCRP Towanda Proposed Floor Plan

Towanda Recreation Center

The North Baltimore City site includes a multipurpose center, an outdoor pool, a large gathering space, and a gym. Myatt has designed a new fitness center that will sport new equipment, and new doors will provide extra external security.

“We’re taking down some walls to provide better visibility and make it flow better and feel more open and inviting,” she says.

Myatt also is upgrading the facility’s prep kitchen and its interior finishes. Construction should begin later this year and be complete in early 2020.

Cylburn Arboretum Carriage House

Cylburn Arboretum Carriage House

Cylburn Arboretum Carriage House

The arboretum is a 200-acre park in North Baltimore dotted with historic structures, including a mansion built in 1868 by businessman Jesse Tyson. Myatt has designed the renovation of the mansion’s carriage house, which serves as a free museum and education center.

Because the carriage house is a historic building, Myatt is working with the city’s Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation and other agencies to determine the scope of the work, including an improved exhibit space and redesigned offices.

“The carriage house is in rough shape,” she says, noting that the building is a “beautiful stone structure in need of repair and repointing. The historic portico on the front needs to be fully restored. It will be demolished and recreated.”

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The initial focus is on the interior, which has been gutted. Windows will be replaced, and roof work is needed. Long-term plans include adding an elevator for accessibility to offices on the upper floors and storm-water and site improvements to protect the structure.

The project is receiving state funding, but Myatt is working with a limited budget.

“We’re trying to maximize what can be done in that budget,” she says.

The museum is closed, and Myatt’s design work continues. There is no timetable for the project’s completion.

Having a hand in all the park projects that Murphy & Dittenhafer has undertaken gives Myatt an appreciation for what those improvements mean to Baltimore City residents seeking fun and relaxation in a natural setting.

“The big effort throughout all our projects so far has been on creating more engaging and welcoming spaces, improving dated facilities that are warmer and more inviting to the community,” she says.