Open Space Plan
The UMBC community has placed a high priority, not only on its buildings, but also on its open spaces. Open spaces provide a sense of place and are key factors in creating a collegiate atmosphere indicative of higher learning. They provide places for learning, research, contemplation, gathering, study and recreation. Depending on their design, open spaces can either isolate or they can successfully connect buildings, programs and communities.
UMBC classifies its open spaces into two basic categories: informal and spontaneous outdoor spaces; and areas designed for programmed uses. Exterior spaces for programmed uses such as athletic competition and practice, organized recreation, and other scheduled activities are designed into the campus fabric, much like building spaces. The non-programmed exterior spaces are considered part of this Open Space Plan.
The Open Space Plan integrates a series of well-scaled outdoor places organized by the Campus Framework. The objective is to carefully balance the massing of buildings with the open space they create. It is important to provide a variety of environments to support the variety of needs on campus.
Iconic Green Spaces
The rising stature and advancing maturity of UMBC warrant investment in iconic and memorable green spaces indicative of most mature universities of its size. These spaces are scaled to the size of the campus buildings with distinctive landscape elements.
The open space north of The Commons and east of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery is currently not well utilized due to its large size and configuration, though it sits at an important crossroad between academic, student life and residential land use zones. The Master Plan proposes to redefine this important space by lining it with new student-oriented facilities and reconnecting it to the Pond. This new green space will be the heart of the campus and will reinforce the elements of the framework.
Additional open spaces in this category include the Quad south of The Commons, and the Pond area adjacent to the library. The redevelopment of these spaces will greatly enhance the sense of place and collegiate character of the UMBC campus.
Complementing the Iconic Green Spaces are more intensively used Plazas. These spaces
serve as the forecourt for academic buildings and, properly designed, allow for a mix of uses, including events, congregation and at times access to buildings by service vehicles. Examples include the plaza to the south of The Commons and also the open space in front of the
Typically, quadrangles present places more intimate in scale yet still ample in size for informal activities and gatherings. They help provide a safe, comfortable atmosphere indicative of higher learning and conducive to study and interaction, yet supportive of residential life, education and interdisciplinary collaboration. A successful example on campus is the terraced, landscaped area adjacent to the Pond, leading up to the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, and the open space between the Public Policy Building and the Physics Building.
The newest residential communities on campus, Erickson Hall, Harbor Hall and the Walker Avenue Apartments are successfully organized around courtyards. These courts serve as gathering places for residents, typically equipped with benches, tables, cooking grills and other landscape elements. Typically, the intimate nature of these courts lend them identity, lacking in most of the older residential communities on campus. The University is upgrading the existing open spaces around the traditional residential halls to better serve the needs of the residents.