Baltimore Office of the Promotion & the Arts  and Sagamore Development Company LLC present:


image copyright Sagamore Development LLC

image copyright Sagamore Development LLC


Design Competition Brief

Issued: February 29, 2016

Phase I applications due: 11:59 PM, April 29, 2016

Application Link-


1.1 Introduction and Goals

What will it will mean to “sit on a bench” in Baltimore’s newest waterfront redevelopment?

Sagamore Development Company LLC (Sagamore), is currently planning a 226-acre mixed-use redevelopment and park system along the Port Covington waterfront in South Baltimore.  The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is partnering with Sagamore to hold an open design competition, asking for “wide-open thinking” about what street furniture in the new Port Covington may look like.

Sagamore and BOPA want to encourage artists, artisans, makers, and designers from all backgrounds to apply, and to ensure all applicants are treated professionally through the competition. Sagamore wants to encourage multiple points of view, local connections and a true Baltimore story through this design competition.

The competition will happen in two phases: a national open call for ideas, and a semifinalist round asking short-listed candidates to further develop their proposals and prototypical bench.

BOPA and Sagamore hope the competition will result in the design, development and manufacture of an original and contemporary solution to a public street bench. The ideal bench would be useful, beautiful, and specific to Baltimore so that it can be installed throughout the entire landscape and streetscape of Port Covington, including the planned East Waterfront Park, currently under City review.

While the competition is open to designers from anywhere, we hope that the benches will have a positive Baltimore narrative and strong local connection.  Ideally the benches would be manufactured in Baltimore, or carry another specific trait that makes the result contemporary, specific to Baltimore and iconic.

The desired outcomes of the Competition are to:

  • Stimulate “wide-open thinking” about what street furniture in Port Covington may look like;
  • Attract the attention and participation of artists, designers, teams and firms at a variety of scales and experiences;
  • Receive a variety of design solutions that explore the potential for new building methods and materials; and
  • Raise the arts and design profile of Baltimore.

1.2 The Role of the Street Bench

Street benches have been a part of the public realm since at least the 14th century to encourage public use of open space in parks and plazas. They are used to create specific spaces with furnishings, to provide respite and relaxation opportunities and more recently, to make architectural or sculptural statements in public spaces.

In Baltimore, street furnishings have been notable not for their innovative design, but as public billboards for city slogans. From “Charm City” under Mayor William Donald Schaefer to “The City That Reads” in 1989 and “Believe” as recently as the 2000s, Baltimore has used benches to communicate and brand the City. Sagamore and BOPA want to encourage a new generation of creative artists, makers and designers to design the Next Great Baltimore Bench. The Next Great Baltimore Bench should tell a story about the hardworking heritage and history of Baltimore and the Port Covington site, be engaging for the public, be connected specifically to local materials or manufacturing and be an iconic design.

1.3 Project Description

Port Covington is currently a 260-acre underutilized industrial area featuring approximately three miles of waterfront between Interstate 95 and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and is located within 2 miles of downtown Baltimore, Maryland.  Sagamore’s goal is to build on Baltimore’s hardworking heritage and harness the city’s innovative spirit to create a thriving, active and inclusive waterfront neighborhood at Port Covington.

This multi-year project will create thousands of jobs, build green spaces and parks, preserve and further enhance public access to the waterfront, provide outdoor recreation opportunities and bring significant long-term economic benefit to the City of Baltimore, the state and the region.

Sagamore’s goal is to secure master plan approval, zoning entitlements, and local, state and federal funding.  As currently contemplated, the Port Covington redevelopment will include the following uses once complete:

  • 1,500,000 square feet of destination, attraction, entertainment and specialty.
  • Over 7,500 residential units; rental and for-sale product at various price-points.
  • 500,000 square feet of “maker” and industrial/light manufacturing space.
  • 200+ hotel rooms.
  • 1,500,000 square feet of office space (in addition to the UA World Headquarters).
  • Civic and cultural uses including 40+ acres of public parks, an accessible and engaging public waterfront and other world-class public facilities.

As one of the largest urban renewal projects in the United States, the redevelopment of Port Covington will provide extraordinary economic growth and job opportunities for both the City of Baltimore and the greater region.  An area essentially cut off from Baltimore’s downtown neighborhoods by the elevated structure of I-95 and the adjacent CSX rail yard, will become a dynamic, innovative, mixed-use experience and destination.

As the home of a new global headquarters for Under Armour, the community will be fueled by the culture of one of the most dynamic companies and fastest growing brands in the world, with planned workspace that may accommodate more than 10,000 employees.

image copyright Sagamore Development LLC

image copyright Sagamore Development LLC

1.4 Sponsor’s Identity:

Sagamore is a privately-held, full-service real estate firm founded in 2013 by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and real estate developer Marc Weller.  The company is focused on investment and development opportunities in Baltimore, MD and is currently master planning a large tract of land known as Port Covington in the City of Baltimore.  The planned project, spanning 42 city blocks, will have a transformational impact on the City and metropolitan region.    The project will be anchored by a new, 50-acre, 3.9 million square foot global headquarters for Under Armour with approximately 9 million square feet of mixed-use development adjacent to the campus.

Sagamore is a part of Plank Industries.  Plank Industries is a privately-held company with diversified holdings in commercial real estate, hospitality, food and beverage, and thoroughbred horseracing, all under the Sagamore group of brands. The company is based in Baltimore, MD, and serves as the private investment office of Kevin A. Plank, the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Under Armour, Inc. (NYSE:UA).  Tom Geddes is the CEO of Plank Industries.  The mission of Plank Industries is to execute the strategic vision of Kevin Plank, and to elevate Greater Baltimore through investment, waterfront revitalization, impactful philanthropy, entrepreneurship, global engagement, and strategic communications.

BOPA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, produces events and arts programs as well as manages several facilities. It is the official Baltimore City Arts Council. BOPA coordinates Baltimore’s major events including New Year’s Eve and July 4th celebrations at the Inner Harbor, Artscape which is America’s largest free arts festival, Baltimore Book Festival, Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar, School 33 Art Center’s Open Studio Tour and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade.

In the past, BOPA has been called upon to orchestrate or assist with large-scale city events.  The activities include the Ravens Rally Super Bowl Send-Off and the Ravens Super Bowl Victory Parade in 2001 and 2013; Miss USA in 2005 and 2006; Baltimore’s Celebration of the Army-Navy Game in 2000 and 2007; the Star-Spangled Salute to Michael Phelps in 2008, the Star-Spangled Sailabration in 2012 and the NFL Kick-Off in 2013. Currently, BOPA is preparing for exciting upcoming events in 2014 including the Star-Spangled Spectacular.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts manages the Creative Baltimore Fund Grants, Baltimore Mural Program, Free Fall Baltimore, PNC Transformative Art Prize, MECU Neighborhood Grant Program and Bright StArts Workshops For Children. BOPA oversees historic attractions and sites including the Top of the World Observation Level, School 33 Art Center, The Cloisters and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower.



2.1 Competition Format

The competition will be held in two phases:

Phase I (Open Ideas): Applicants shall submit ideas and proposals for unique benches as instructed below. All proposals will be reviewed by a jury panel which will select semi-finalists for further consideration. Up to five applicants will be invited to move on to the Phase II- Semifinalist round.

Phase II (SemiFinalist): Short-listed applicants will be invited to develop their phase I proposals into a more complete design package and a model of their refined bench design.  The design package should describe technical aspects of the design such as material options, installation requirements and a scalable fabrication process, budget and timeline for production. Semifinalists will be provided a $2,000 stipend to develop their concept and prototype/model bench.

Public Comment: Semifinalist submissions to Phase II will be made available to the public for review and commentary, via the BOPA website and an in-person exhibit of the design-boards and models.

  • Jury Panel

The competition will be reviewed by a diverse jury panel representing professionals and stakeholders from multiple backgrounds.  BOPA staff will administer the competition and review process.  BOPA will maintain records and scores collected during the selection process and provide reasonable professional feedback to applicants if requested.

  • Two representatives from BOPA and/or the Public Arts Commission of Baltimore
  • Two Baltimore based design professionals (architect, designer, furniture or industrial designer, or design educator)
  • One representative from Sagamore Development LLC
  • One representative from the Baltimore City Recreation & Parks Department
  • One representative from the Department of Transportation familiar with standard benches and street furniture
  • Two stakeholders with an interest in the South Baltimore Project

The Jury Panel for selection for a Phase 2 will include the same members as the Phase 1 jury, and will make a final recommendation as to a competition winner, but the decision to pursue any particular final design proposal will be Sagamore’s.

  • Competition Outcomes

The competition is a call for ideas.  There is no commitment on behalf of Sagamore or BOPA to produce or develop any proposal or design received.  In the event that any of the proposals are selected to be built, the author(s) of the selected proposal will be included in all aspects of the design development process, and properly credited. All applicants should anticipate the possibility of being invited the semi-finalist round of the competition, and be prepared to further explore and develop their proposal if they are selected.

2.4 Submission Requirements

PHASE I: Your complete submission must include:

-Proposal: a single page (11” x 17”, horizontally formatted, and saved as a flattened PDF or JPEG). This page should fully visually describe the author’s proposal and provide a basic understanding of the concept.  You may compose the layout of the board however you choose but this document should provide the jury all of the necessary information to understand your proposal.  At least one image should define the scale of your bench.  The Proposal may include a short description (up to 300 words) of your overall concept. *Note: This board should be anonymous and not include applicant information.

-Description: A written narrative, (single space, 11 pt. font not to exceed two sides of a single 8.5”x11” sheet,) describing your proposal, concept behind your bench, and any relevant details on your design.  This sheet can also include descriptions of relevant images include in the Proposal

-Author Narrative: A written narrative (single space, 11 pt. font not to exceed one side of a single 8.5”x11” sheet) describing the background of the author(s) of the project, and any experience relevant to the competition.

-Applicant contact information including: primary contact name, address, email, phone number, website, full list of team members

-agreement to the terms and conditions listed in the official application site

Phase I applications MUST be uploaded at the following link:

PHASE II: Phase II will include a more in-depth RFP document speaking to the technical requirements of the Phase II design package and an interview process to address any technical questions the semi-finalists may have.

Semi Finalists will be expected to produce a prototype or model bench as part of the final submission for this phase.

2.5 Question & Answer

All questions regarding this Phase I of the competition and this design brief must be submitted to with subject line “Bench Design Question” by 11:59 pm March 18.

Answers will be provided publicly on the Call to Artists webpage by March 18

2.6 Disqualification:

Any submission may be subject to disqualification if any of the following apply:

  • Submission is submitted in any format other than being uploaded to BOPA’s Submittable site. (i.e. emailing, mailing, hand delivering your submission do not count)
  • If the submission is received after the deadline for entries has passed
  • If the applicant expresses their identity on the phase I proposal sheet (11×17)
  • If a submission is not complete or only partial information is provided.

February 29: Full Competition description and Phase I Brief available to the public.

April 29: Phase I submissions due

May 19: Announce Semi-Finalists.

May 28: Phase II RFP issued to to Semifinalists

June 30: Phase II responses due

June 9-August 31: Phase II Public Exhibition

August 31: Finalist/Winner announced


Each Semi-Finalist participant will receive a $2,000 stipend for their participation and to further develop their concept and develop a prototype or model bench.

The selected winner will receive an additional $3,000.

Sagamore may, at its discretion, enter into a further engagement with the competition winner to develop the specific concept, manufacturing process or any other element of the selected design. The scope, schedule and budget will be determined between Sagamore and the competition winner.



The copyright of any design submitted through this competition will remain with the author.

The Competition partners reserve the right to exhibit, or publish any design submitted to this competition in any manner and format they so desire. Any images, illustrations, renderings, schematics, may be used separately or together, with or without explanatory text without cost. Competition partners will take every reasonable step to credit the designs author when using such imagery.


THE NEXT GREAT BALTIMORE BENCH DESIGN COMPETITION is managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. For questions or more information on competition please contact:

Ryan Patterson

Public Art Administrator

Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts

10 E. Baltimore Street, 10th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21218


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