February 6, 2024 / President's Letters

President’s Letter: February 2024


Photo from the event: from Left to Right – Melanie Ray, AIA, Bmore NOMA President,
Chris Mfume, the Civic Group, and Ryan Pietrowski, AIA, Hanbury.


Hello members!


As we reflect on a fantastic start to 2024, we embrace the momentum as we honor and celebrate Black history.


From pioneering designs that embody resilience and creativity to groundbreaking projects that redefine the boundaries of architecture, the legacy of Black architects in Baltimore is profound and far-reaching. Their continued vision, talent, and dedication to improve our built environment inspire the next generations of architects, designers, and urban planners.


This month offers us an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of Black design professionals to our city’s architectural landscape and to acknowledge their continued impact on shaping this place.  AIA Baltimore will be assisting in partnership with Bmore NOMA and Morgan State NOMAS chapter to host a portfolio review session at Morgan State on February 13th in preparation for Morgan State’s Architecture Career Fair on February 22nd (Employers please sign up here).  I encourage members to attend and aid these great students with their path into the profession.


Additionally as architects we can explore the history and learn more about the remarkable stories and achievements of Black architects in Baltimore.  One resource BAF and Baltimore Heritage created is the video “The Early Black Architects of Baltimore” highlighting the early history of Black architects in our city . This insightful video highlights the unique heritage of early Black architects prior to 1970, who helped shape Baltimore, influenced the early generation of Black architects and established early Black architectural firms.


Related to learning about the city and our area, last month, the Center for Architecture and Design hosted a charrette for the Baltimore City Comprehensive Master Plan, focusing on the downtown section.  The participants included a diverse group of people from architects and landscape architects from across the Baltimore region, as well as planners, DOT, developers, Downtown business stakeholders and city agencies.  Baltimore City Planning expressed gratitude for the ideas and the volunteer’s dedication in making it a highly successful event, with groups engaging in discussions about the various sections of downtown Baltimore, generating ideas, presenting them to the entire group for discussion and then inviting public feedback.


Several groups proposed innovative enhancements to the streetscape and improvements to facilitate pedestrian navigation bringing in precedents from international urban design. Additionally, there were intriguing long-term concepts, such as additional green spaces, access to sustainable food choices, and new uses for the current BCPD facilities.  There is opportunity for humanistic and equitable design around this planning effort; Baltimore City Planning will organize the materials and make them available for all members and citizens to review and provide feedback, likely in the summer of 2024. Please stay tuned.


Let’s come together this month to celebrate diversity, honor heritage, and foster inclusivity in our profession and community. Together, let’s continue to build a more equitable and vibrant future for all.


With gratitude,


Ryan Jordan Pfarr, AIA
2024 President