Section1 is a movement. It is an exercise. A celebration. An example of how the creative minds of our generation can shape communities and enrich our lives. Our foundation is dedicated to fostering opportunities that promote and produce vibrant, progressive and creative forms of urban art. To do this we transform vacant, underutilized and derelict sites into vibrant, creative venues and cultural centers. These destination, designated as Section1 Parks, provide and oasis for creative expression. A practice that is required to promote diversity, encourage social discourse and develop innovative environments, which lead to systemic positive social change. The development of our network of Section1 Parks will be done utilizing a creative place-making platform and human centered practices. In doing so we will leverage the talent from the communities we serves, instil ownership of these parks and maximize the value such open spaces can have on our society.
Section1 was founded by Richard Best in September 2012, while attending a dual masters program between Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and Maryland Institute College of Art. The program, Design Leadership, prepared its founding cohort to apply creative process to business settings, while focusing on social value creation. As an independent thesis project, Mr. Best saw not only opportunity to transform an abandon 3.5 acre site into an unprecedented urban art park, but also the opportunity to utilize design thinking to re-image public space. Upon graduation Mr. Best was provided with $10,000 in seed funding from Maryland Institute College of Art’s LAB Award, aimed at supporting projects that encourage local talent to use the city as a canvas for creative vision and aid in Baltimore’s retention of the creative class. This seed funding, in turn, was utilized to establish Section1 Inc., a non-profit dedicated to utilizing urban art to enrich our lives.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Located in the heart of Baltimore, between Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Maryland Institute College of Art and the University of Baltimore, sits a vacant 3.5 acre canvas. Surrounding this canvas is a rich community, comprised of artists, designers, and educational institutions, museums, historical landmarks and a demographic largely consisting of the creative class. The site, since the extension of the Jones Falls Express-way (JFX) in the mid 1970’s, has set vacant. Limited access prevents the site from being commercially developed and with the exception of light vehicular traffic, is largely unused. The exception to this can been seen on columns that support the JFX. For nearly 40 years urban artists have found value in this space and used it as a medium for their creative practices.
For the past two years Section1 has been working fervently to transform this site into what will soon be the world’s largest urban art park. A park featuring the highest concentration of street art in the country, 3 live performance venues, an 18,000sft skate park and an acre of lush green space. The development of this park will provide Baltimore with a premier urban arts venue that provides an opportunity to bring together a culturally diverse and otherwise segregated society. An opportunity for a community of artist and social innovators to set a precedent in urban design that inspires the world.
The development of the Section1 Urban Art Park will not only provide the nearby communities of Bolton Hill, Charles North, Greenmount West, Mid-Town Belvedere, and Mount Vernon with a much needed recreational park, but also serve as a cultural center for the entire city of Baltimore. The robust programming of festivals, concerts, and educational and creative events will build an internationally renowned arts destination, allowing the city to increase tourism and attract and retain new residents of the creative class.
Among the first developers to utilize urban art as a means of community revitalization and economic development was Tony Goldman, of Goldman Properties. His earliest success was the transformation of a small burrow of Southern Manhattan. Leveraging from the creative cultural already present in the community, he developed what is now the artistic heart of New York City, known as SoHo. Mr. Goldman also used this strategy to rejuvenate various areas of Miami, including the once delinquent community of Wynwood. The Wynwood district is now a thriving art Mecca, host to the world famous street art museum, Wynwood Walls. The district also hosts the annual Art Basel conference, bringing artist, collectors, and galleries from around the world for a week long festival. It is this same vision that the Section1 sees for the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, and one we intended to actively pursue.
The New York High Line transformed an unused freight rail in the West Side of Manhattan into an elevated public park. The park was developed in three different stages. The first section opened in 2009 and the second in 2011. The park attracted over 2 million visitors in 2009, a number that has expanded to 3.7 million annually. The development of the High Line set an international precedent in urban design. Baltimore is currently home to 4,905 acres of green space. This equates to 9.5% of the cities landscape. When compared to other densely populated cities such as New York or Washington DC with a rate of 19.5%, there is an obvious need for park growth. Of the 4,900+ acres of parkland in Baltimore, less then 2 acres is present in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. The area is currently home of roughly 6,000 residents. When comparing Baltimore’s average rate of 7.7 acres of land per resident, this is an additional need of over 5 acres of park space in the area.
Across the country skate parks can be found under major highway overpasses, such as that of FDR Park in Philadelphia. These unique location provide an environment out of the elements that not only increase the longevity of the parks materials, but also provides shade and protection to the park patrons.
The IASC reports that roughly 7% of the U.S. population identifies themselves as skateboarders. This includes both passive and active users. They recommend that cities develop 1.0 SF of public skate park per user to accommodate the demand of this user group. Baltimore is now home to roughly 44,000 skateboarders. Currently only two public skateboard parks exist within City limits. They include Carroll Park and Skatepark of Baltimore. While the two combined equate to roughly 26,000 SF of skate park space, this number does not reach the current demand requiring an additional 18,000 SF of park space.
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