McKeldin Square

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Baltimore, MD
United States
McKeldin Square

Landscape Information

This 2.53-acre triangular public plaza is situated at the intersection of Light and Pratt Streets some 200 yards northwest of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The space once contained a large, multilevel sculptural fountain designed in 1982 by Philadelphia architect Thomas Todd as part of the larger redevelopment of the Inner Harbor launched by Baltimore Mayor Theodore McKeldin in 1963. Occupying most of the southern section of the plaza, the Modernist fountain comprised a series of angular concrete platforms at varying levels. Water cascaded from the platforms on all sides, collecting in irregularly shaped basins. Two “skywalks” (elevated walkways) connected the fountain to the Light Street Harbor Place Pavilion to the southeast and the Hyatt Regency Hotel to the southwest. Once informally designated a “free speech zone” by protestors, the plaza became a popular site for public gatherings. Seeking to revitalize the area, city planners slated the fountain and the connecting skywalks for demolition in 2006. This was achieved in 2016, making room for a temporary landscape designed by landscape architect David Rubin. Mature trees border the eastern and western sides of the plaza, whose interior is planted with young saplings. A simple grass lawn now occupies the space once filled by the fountain. Flanking the edges of the lawn are two modest sets of inward-facing, tiered seating. A wide, red-brick apron (original to Todd’s design) zigzags across the plaza from northwest to southeast, visually connecting with the paving of the Inner Harbor’s brick promenade that begins just across the five-lane-wide Light Street. A grouping of six flagpoles stands at the western end of apron. The southern tip of the plaza extends southward down Light Street, finally transitioning into a grassy median.