Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

the more things change, the more they remain the same: Could McCormick Spice Co. move back to Baltimore City?

The company was founded in Baltimore in 1889 and grew through acquisition.  They left the city for quarters in Baltimore County in 1989.  Their old main headquarters building in the city is long gone.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports ("Spice company McCormick is considering 4 states for its new HQ") that the company is considering Pennsylvania, Delaware, Northern Virginia, and Maryland as sites for a new consolidated headquarters.

The article states that easy access to an international airport is highly desired, mentioning BWI Airport outside of Baltimore.

Why not just move back to Baltimore City?

Too bad the old headquarters is no long around for a triumphant return by the company.

Also see "Silicon Valley Fans San Francisco's Flames" from the Wall Street Journal about how many Silicon Valley tech firms are building up their operations in San Francisco, to have better access to quality talent, the same issue that is motivating McCormick to consider options other than their very suburban location in Baltimore County.

In my forthcoming summary article for the EUNIC Washington Cluster "Europe in Baltimore" project, I suggested that the next phase for culture districts is to move towards knowledge clusters, and I suggest that Baltimore City and the city's higher education institutions need to consider this.

From the article:

From creative clusters to "creative economies" and knowledge quarters/knowledge precincts.  The basic precepts for the development of cultural districts as a revitalization strategy were laid down beginning in the 1980s, starting with various projects in the UK.   Researcher-consultants such as John Montgomery, Simon Roodhouse, Charles Landry and others have written extensively about "the creative city," and culture district development, planning and management.

The "Five Star" Model of Knowledge Development-Innovation Districts.  Source:  Aalto University.

As more places took on culture-based regeneration projects, the field has continued to develop and advance and define culture more broadly and integrate additional disciplines into more wider scale "creative economy" initiatives which tend to be focused on what are called "knowledge quarter" initiatives, as opposed to arts districts.  Perhaps knowledge quarter initiatives should be considered "next generation" culture district initiatives.

The Knowledge Quarter in Liverpool, which includes higher education institutions, government research facilities, private research ventures, medical and health care institutions, and research parks is one example.

-- "Liverpool City Region's Knowledge Economy: Delivering New Opportunities for Growth

Helsinki's Arabianranta district, which is centered around the design oriented University of Art and Design (now part of Aalto University) is another as is the Alexander Innovation District in Thessaloniki.  (There are many other examples around the world, including the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.)

The URBACT publication, Creating knowledge hotspots in the city: A handbook | Practical guidelines for developing campuses, science quarters, creative districts and other knowledge hotspots, provides guidance for considering the development of broader knowledge development focused initiatives.


3.  Baltimore has an incredible array of higher education institutions and while research and technology development initiatives by certain of the institutions have high profiles and there is the Baltimore Collegetown effort focused on retaining students in the metropolitan area after they graduate, there isn't the sense of Baltimore's higher education institutions operating at the scale of an integrated "knowledge quarter."  This needs to be addressed

Presently, there isn't a network of all of Baltimore's higher education institutions, although there are many examples of cooperation between institutions on more bi-lateral bases.  And Johns Hopkins University's president, Robert Daniels, who previously had been Provost at the University of Pennsylvania, which has a wide-ranging revitalization program within its urban interest area ("The University and Urban Revival," Judith Rodin, former president of Penn) has stepped up JHU's interaction with the city at large.

The Baltimore Student Exchange Program, like the Five College Consortium in Western Massachusetts, lets students take courses at different colleges and universities in the city, and is an initiative that can be built upon.

Could Baltimore's higher education institutions develop a network comparable to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation linking the Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago or the Washington Research Libraries Consortium in DC?

4.  Definitely there isn't a university-involved initiative within Baltimore that operates at the scale of Liverpool's Knowledge Quarter.

Could such a district be created in Baltimore, as the next generation of "culture district" development initiatives?

The way that the Arabianranta district was regenerated in association with the relocation of the University of Arts and Design and how design and information technology initiatives developed around it is another example of university-business-community revitalization that is especially relevant to the Station North Arts and Entertainment District as a way to better leverage and heighten the integration of these educational institutions into a broader program.

Also, the City of Helsinki's information technology innovation unit, Forum Virium Helsinki, a public-private partnership but also an agency of the city government, is another example that Baltimore could consider in the development of broader knowledge innovation efforts.

That being said, the East Baltimore Development Initiative, in part focused on leveraging the opportunities present within the medical research community at the adjacent Johns Hopkins University Medical School and Hospital is an example of a nascent effort along these lines.

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At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I indicated on one of your posts below, you should watch this viddy of Douglas Rushkoff. He cites Piketty and has some eye-opening thoughts on capitalism being the wrong platform underlying the internet.

Another thinker who has been writing for decades about economics, capitalism and its shortcomings is Hazel Henderson.

As Charlie intimated the other day, wealth and income are two different things.

Here in the US, we are brainwashed from cradle-to-grave to be zombie consumers that knwo the price of everything but the value of nothing, as one of my favorite commentators opines:



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