Urban Solutions from the Creator of egoLOGICAL City

What does an upscale residential project in La Jolla have to do with supportive housing in Baltimore? Ask Kuo Pao Lian whose passion for urbanism won him and co-entrant Shelby Morris recognition as runners-up in the 2004 Next Generation competition for egoLOGICAL city.

Lian, along with his wife and partner Pavlina Ilieva, recently moved to San Diego to work with Sebastian Mariscal Studio where he’ll be learning everything he can about development design-build on sites such as the large home in La Jolla. Meanwhile back home in Baltimore, their housing project, with a very different client, is taking shape.

The Lanvale Institute is a converted school that has been operating as temporary housing for homeless mothers and children since 1988. In 2005, housing advocate Tim Williams took over the building and is looking to introduce “supportive housing,” a practice that links permanent homes with social services.

The designers hooked up with Williams while working on Hidden Walls, a project commissioned by Baltimore’s Urbanite magazine. Hidden Walls was created in collaboration with Ed Burns, writer/producer of HBO’s The Wire, and Robert Blum, interim director of the John Hopkins Urban Health Institute. The idea was to take city blocks of dilapidated housing stock in Baltimore and turn their focus inward, block by block. They saw the resulting inner courtyards as safe spaces filled with play areas, urban farming, and other amenities.

For Williams they did a preliminary building analysis and spatial studies to help determine the possibilities of the Lanvale Institute. As Lian explains, “This project for us is very unique and dynamic, primarily because it’s taking on a new shape for architecture and urbanism. It is fully a situation where the flashy images of high design, or presumptuous neighborhood master planning or ‘creating communities’ is not the overlying headline. It’s truly about building the idea, about physically building social programming and instead of forcing that into the community, they have relied on the community to sustain such a project.”

So while Lian and Ilieva are in California leaning to build, Williams is in the process of raising funds and studying the needs of the community to determine what services are best to include in his plan for supportive housing. The designers’ new skills will, in essence, connect that high-end home on the west coast to housing for the disenfranchised in the east.

To read more about Hidden Walls see, http://urbanitebaltimore.com/project/teams/hiddenwalls/

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