Architectural Activism: Rebuilding Lives/Rebuilding Communities

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Rebuilding Lives/Rebuilding Communities entails the adaptive reuse and transformation of mostly abandoned buildings formerly used as an orphanage and hospital in West Baltimore into an expanded drug treatment facility and building trades school. Students will experience the therapeutic power and sense of accomplishment derived from working with their hands while developing the skills necessary to rebuild the crumbling urban fabric seen throughout Baltimore's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The area adjacent to the site is in desperate need of rehabilitation and could serve as a workshop for the building trades program.

As owner of the site since November 2003, Coppin State University could manage the facility and coordinate the building trades program with their Department of Applied Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling. This department offers graduate degrees in several related fields including Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, and Correctional Education.

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum could serve as the anchor of the new campus. Built in 1876 to benefit the Jewish children of Baltimore, it could now become a refuge for today's orphans of society, those whose lives are shattered by drug and alcohol addiction. Creatively reusing virtually all of the buildings on the site would also demonstrate any building, especially historic properties in challenging neighborhoods can be successfully recycled and become the catalyst for positive change in a community. It would also illustrate the leadership role architects can and should play in determining how best to address the visual, social, and economic impact that vacant and abandoned buildings have on cities across the nation.