At today’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the Baltimore Design School, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recalled visiting the building for the first time with State Senator Catherine Pugh, who championed the project for years. This was before partners like MICA got on board, before funding was secured, and before a nifty Ziger/Snead design and $27 million dollars worth of renovations turned Greenmount West’s Crown Cork and Seal factory building from a vacant eyesore into a state-of-the-art school.
“I have to be honest with the senator,” the mayor quipped. “I thought she was crazy when she first had me up in here. We had natural air conditioning, because there wasn’t a window in this place. I said, ‘I don’t know how they think they’re gonna turn this into a school. She’s either a visionary or she’s crazy.’ Today, I will affirm she’s a visionary.”
That sentiment was echoed by other dignitaries in attendance (and there were many), including Martin O’Malley. The governor also told the students on hand—it was their first day in the new building—that “we expect great things of you guys.” He followed that challenge with the following meandering observations: “You have this tremendous opportunity to think anew, to think conceptually, to not only see things as they are in the symmetry of this world you come into, but to imagine a different symmetry, to be able to hit a disruptive but more creative vibe that creates a new world and creates and imagines new things, better healthier things, things that make our world a more attractive place, yes, but also a healthier place. These are exciting times.”
They are, but not for the vague reasons he stated. It’s exciting that the city is making this sort of investment in arts-related education during difficult times. It’s exciting that a vacant property has been turned into a showplace. It’s exciting to unveil a state-of-the art school—we need a hundred more of them. It’s exciting to see this sort of development in Greenmount West. And it’s exciting to see another anchor drop in Station North.