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REGENERATE FORT CARROLL: A Gateway Ecological Park


This project proposes the creation of a gateway ecological park on the site of the abandoned Fort Carroll at the mouth of the Patapsco River near Baltimore, Maryland. Situated between the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore, within an oyster preserve as well as in the midst of active shipping lanes, Fort Carroll occupies a unique position of prominence. Originally designed to be the first line of defense for Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry, construction began on Fort Carroll in 1847. The Fort never saw major combat and was abandoned in 1920.

Over the years, there have been a number of reuse proposals for the site, ranging from a super-scale statue of Lord Calvert to a neon “Welcome to Baltimore” sign to a casino. Though technically off-limits and nearly inaccessible, the alluring ruins draw bloggers, kayakers, and adventure-seekers who make their way onto the island to explore. 11.6 million vehicles pass by it on the Key Bridge annually, wondering what the story is behind the abandoned island. Over the years since its abandonment, birds have nearly taken over the island: it is now the most diverse colony of bird species within 100 miles. Currently, the Fort’s bird population is viewed as an insurmountable obstacle to any reuse strategy for the island. It has in essence become an ultimatum: preserve the birds, or preserve Fort Carroll.

We disagree.

We see an opportunity to transform Fort Carroll into a significant public space, not only restoring the abandoned island but recasting Fort Carroll a positive force in broader restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. An oyster preserve, an alluring military ruin, an important avian habitat, and a bay with faced with environmental challenges form the building blocks for a dynamic gateway ecological park. Once inwardly focused and fortified, the renewed Fort Carroll sets its sights outward with a new network of pathways that form an open and dendritic circulation system through the site. The renewed Fort also establishes connections to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Bay National Historic Trail, which currently passes by the island.

REGENERATE FORT CARROLL realizes the new and exciting synergies afforded by the union of recreation, environmental education, aquaculture, and habitat restoration. The obsolete military fort will now serve as a catalyst for positive change within the Chesapeake Bay’s multitude of interdependent communities, becoming a literal and figurative gateway to a sustainable future for Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay.


Baltimore, Maryland 21219
United States

Competition Details

  • Name: Open Architecture Challenge: [UN]Restricted Access
  • Host: Architecture for Humanity
  • Type: Public
  • Registration Deadline: May 01 2012
  • Submission Deadline: June 01 2012
  • Entry Fee: $50 USD Professionals , $25 USD Students , $0 USD Dues paying Architecture for Humanity Chapter members , $0 USD Developing Nations
  • Award: More than $5,000 in prizes
  • Status: Concluded

The competition entry ID for this project is 13812.

Project Details

PROJECT LEAD: Colin Curley + Sara Allen Harper
LOCATION: Baltimore, Maryland 21219, United States
START DATE: February 01, 2012
CURRENT PHASE: Design development
SIZE: 3 acres
PROJECT TYPE: Recreation Facility, Public Space/Gathering Space, Landscapes/Parks/Outdoor Spaces, Education Facility - Training Center

About Our Partners

Sponsorship Needed We're continuing our recruitment of individuals and organizations who are ready to accept the mission of sponsoring the complex yet rewarding task of successfully transforming previously conflicted sites into civic spaces. If you are ready to enlist your financial resources in service of this greater good, please call us at 415.963.3511 or contact us.