the Neighborhood Design Center
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The Challenge

The Franciscan Center of Baltimore provides assistance and supportive outreach to persons who are economically disadvantaged in Baltimore since 1968. They have been in their current building, constructed ca. 1880, located at 101 West 23rd St. since the 1990s. The Franciscan Center provides nearly 700 meals per day in addition to other services such as case management, counseling, mail service, computer classes, and more.

The Vision

With the Center’s entrance located in the northbound alley (Mace St.), they sought design assistance from the Neighborhood Design Center for improvements to the wayfinding, infrastructure, and greenery of this entrance, with the goal of empowering those who come to the center to arrive in dignity and to better represent the Center’s historic presence in the neighborhood.

The Present

The Franciscan Center’s primary entrance along Mace Street leaves very little dedicated area for pedestrian visitors and allows automobile traffic to take priority. The existing sidewalk and entry do not support gathering or sufficient queuing, causing visitors to use the roadway during the Center’s busiest times.

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The NDC Service

Through the pro-bono Community Design Works program, NDC’s team of designers worked with the Franciscan Center to reimagine the way that the Center’s staff, clients, and neighbors use the space around the buildings’ entrances to enhance the safety, sustainability, and hospitality of these areas.


    • Architect: Richard Rinehart

    • Environmental Graphic Designer: Maria J. Garcia

    • Landscape Architect: Luke Early (Mahan Rykiel)

Richard, Maria, and Luke are the 2023 winners of NDC’s Baltimore Volunteer of the Year Award. They did a phenomenal job working together and in partnership with the Franciscan Center. In addition to regular team check-ins, they met individually to coordinate their work into one model and final presenta- tion, and were always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that the partner had a deliv- erable that was realistic and served a purpose.