October 16, 2014


Do you know that October is Architecture Month? It used to be Architecture Week, but there were too many things to try and cram into one week, that gradually it was extended to a month… and even a week or so before and after!

Most major cities have a range of events around Archtober, and Baltimore is no exception. Baltimore actually launched our Architecture Month in late September with Léon Krier who discussed Design for Living. There are several interesting upcoming events, sponsored by the AIA Baltimore and Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

First is a forum on The History and Legacy of the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre on October 21. The Mechanic, as it is called, is a prime example of the Béton brut style of architecture that was very popular, especially in public buildings from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. It is often referred to as Brutalist architecture because of its hard unfinished concrete slab style, and lack of ornamentation. mechanic

I am not a fan of it, however, I do understand that that it needs to be part of the architectural vocabulary of a city. The Mechanic is in the process of being demolished for another project. It’s been sitting, unused, for more than ten years, doomed to failure by its poor acoustics, bad sightlines and small size. The event is free, but reservations are required.

Another Archtober event is Doors Open Baltimore, part of a world-wide open house program which will take place on October 25th. Doors Open Baltimore welcomes the public to tour buildings passed by regularly, but not often entered. This year’s theme is Industrial Baltimore, with more than 40 buildings across Baltimore open for visiting. imageThe website is fabulous, with gorgeous images of some of the buildings, loads of historical information about them and a map to each site. This is the first annual Doors Open and it’s something we’ve been trying to get off the ground ever since I did the one in London a few years ago (before blogging!).

Another fun event, and one I was proud to be a part of, was the Architecture Seen photo contest. This year’s theme was Entryways, and it was very broadly interpreted. One thread running through all of the images, was that they had to be taken in Baltimore.image Some of the entries were simply stunning and we had a hard time judging them. My fellow judges and I never came to blows, but there was some lively discussion. I was the rank amateur of the group, but I managed to hold my own! Please join us on November 4th at 750 E. Pratt St, Sky Lobby Conference Center for the official announcement of the prize winning entries. If you’re in Baltimore, the top photos from the contest will be on display at Miss Shirley’s Cafe Roland Park location from October 20-31st.

Check with your local chapter of the AIA or Architecture Foundation, and see what they have planned for Archtober!


  1. Always disliked the Mechanic...loved going to the theater,but hated the building. The walking tours sound like so much fun..I signed up for a tour of our new neighborhood Woodberry-Clipper Mill..

  2. i wish i was in Baltimore for the Doors Open Baltimore event. I've been so homesick for my hometown lately. I hope its very successful for you! Will you do a follow up and let us know how it went?

  3. The Doors Open Baltimore event was terrific. Thank you for letting us know about it. We didn't get to all the places on our list, but the places we saw were awesome. We're looking forward participating next year.


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