About this Sacred Place

Bon Secours Community Works (BSCW) works to enrich West Baltimore communities with programs and services that contribute to the long-term economic and social viability of neighborhoods. Nature Sacred partnered with Bon Secours Community Works to help bring a community vision for Unity Park to life.

In 2017. housing developer Unity Properties began engaging their residents around the vacant, 8200 square foot dumping ground at 2 N. Fulton Avenue located a half block north of 158 units of Bon Secours Family Apartments on West Baltimore Street, and a half block south of Bon Secours Community Works’ Family Support Center, a building that serves close to 4,000 residents annually with programs in child development, career placement, and financial education. They discovered community members had four major needs: a safe place for resting and playing; relief from the heat; a venue for community celebration; a place for active and imaginative play. Firesoul Shakira Franklin’s insight that opening fire hydrants in the summer heat is a quintessential urban American tradition, but that those days are long gone for community residents, was key to the concept of a splash park. This space will provide cooling respite during summer heat waves, a place for children to play, and socialization or break opportunities to parents – a key necessity especially for families who may have barriers to accessing public pools.

Through the engagement process, the community developed this project goal statement to encapsulate their intended outcome: To create a safe place for children to play in a variety of ways, where caregivers feel comfortable and welcomed, that is centered around a water feature, which is free for all, beautiful, relaxing, and can be used for all types of community events.

The final concept was generated with the community members as a part of the design team and incorporated all the ideas, and inspiration gathered during a robust engagement process. Two main ideas rose to the top during the design workshops. The first is that there is “a child in everyone” that deserves to play. The team recognized the importance of feeling invited into the space and onto the park amenities regardless of age or ability. Opportunities for entering gradually and literally dipping your toes into the action would encourage intergenerational play that would benefit the health and well being of everyone. The second is that “it takes a village to raise a child” and it therefore needed to be comfortable for the full spectrum of neighbors. Using the model of a village or the stoop, the park is connected with paths and has areas to sit along the edge while the children can run in full view and protection of the community.

The construction of this park will not be the end of this process, as the making of all public space is an on-going process. The people that care for, inhabit, and make memories in this space, will be remaking it forever. The process of designing has been one that has not only planned for the physical changes but also has worked to strengthen the social structure that will allow this place to be the heart of this neighborhood for generations.


Design Team:

  • Ari Miller, Design Director, Hinge Collective
  • Alexa Bosse, Principal, Hinge Collective