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Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Saves approximately 840 gallons of potable water monthly by using recycled greywater for irrigation.
  • Reduces surface temperatures by 10-14°F on sunny summer afternoons on the sand as compared to asphalt, a proxy for the previously existing multimedia cap.
  • Diverted 17.4 tons of composted waste from landfills and recycled 24.7 tons of glass and aluminum in 2017. Using a waste management service focused on composting saved $4,300 annually as compared to conventional waste management. In addition, 680 gallons of used cooking oil is collected annually and recycled offsite to make soap.


  • Attracted an average of 500 daily visitors and 75,000 total visitors during the 2017 season. Observations on two days in 2018 showed that Sandlot attracts 12 times the number of visitors per acre than a nearby waterfront park with similar recreation facilities.
  • Hosted 44 special events for nearly 15,000 visitors during 4.5 months of operation in the 2017 season and 2.5 months in the 2018 season.
  • Attracts visitors from a diverse geographic area within Baltimore City and Maryland, with 95 surveyed visitors representing at least 42 zip codes and 23 cities.


  • Provides 8 permanent and 130 temporary/seasonal jobs, 65% of which are for Baltimore City residents, as well as 6 bookings for local musicians since opening.
  • Generated $89,000 in sales tax and $79,000 in parking revenue during the 2017 season.
  • Stimulated $677,110 in labor and material costs on a site that otherwise would have no investment until the redevelopment phase.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc.

  • Project Type

    Waterfront redevelopment

  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    1000 Wills Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21231
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  • Climate Zone

    Humid subtropical

  • Size

    2 acres

  • Budget


  • Completion Date


Sandlot is an interim, pop-up active waterfront destination and eatery located on a former industrial site in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor. Cut off from the rest of the city for more than 140 years by industry and resulting pollution, this  vacant 2-acre gravel site has undergone intensive environmental remediation and is now home to Sandlot. As a temporary installation in an area set aside for a future public park, Sandlot first operated during the summer and fall of 2017 and is expected be open seasonally during the entire 7-year construction period of Harbor Point, a 27-acre mixed-use development. Design strategies were aimed at creating a destination-driven, context-specific open event space that uses reclaimed materials with rich texture and a simple spatial vocabulary. The family-friendly, summer leisure ambiance provided by outdoor games like volleyball and bocce, food festivals, holiday celebrations, and music performances is complemented by comfort food and drinks, which are locally sourced from urban gardens, farms, and the Chesapeake Bay. While the site amenities and vegetation are non-permanent, their selection and placement are aligned with responsible design strategies that ensure their viability and adaptability within the context of an urban beachfront.


Project Goals

  • Restore access to the waterfront by providing a destination for passive and active recreation
  • Reduce surface temperature of the existing vacant asphalt and gravel site
  • Recycle greywater
  • Recycle and compost all waste
  • Attract and engage visitors from a diverse geographic area
  • Generate local revenue and employment opportunities
  • Stimulate local food production
  • Sandlot provides unrestricted public access to non-bulkheaded shoreline on Baltimore’s waterfront.
  • All structures and amenities, from the restrooms to the kitchen and trees, are temporary installations on the 2-acre site during the 7-year development of the mixed-use Harbor Point development. The site is slated to become a permanent public park.
  • 530 wood shipping pallets representing 2 pallet typologies and 6 different sizes were used to establish a cohesive visual vocabulary for site elements like planters, stage platforms, and deck railings.
  • Eight 8-ft-by-20-ft salvaged shipping containers, sourced from the Port of Baltimore, were repurposed to create an arched entryway, signage, storage area, trash room, bar, kitchen, and cold storage area.
  • 16 trees, including 3-in caliper American sycamore, silver linden, and red maple, will grow on-site for the duration of the project and will be transplanted in the future park.
  • A reclaimed wood deck, steps, and an ADA-accessible switchback ramp mediate the grade change between the ground and elevated shipping container structures.
  • 2 greywater tanks below the deck, with a combined capacity of 1,250 gallons, capture greywater from hand sinks as well as rainwater runoff and reuse it for irrigating the raised pallet planters and galvanized stock tanks, which contain trees, perennials, and hops.
  • 55,000 sf of sand at a depth of 6 to 9 in, sourced from a neighboring county, cover the existing compacted gravel surfaces at the site and create a beach-like environment.
  • 6 beach volleyball courts, 3 bocce courts, swings, and a climbing structure provide recreational and social opportunities for families, local groups, and the community.
  • Construction-grade galvanized culvert pipe was used as the concrete formwork for 25 light posts. This method allowed for quick construction and eliminated the cost of removing traditional sonotube forms, which are used in concrete construction to create round forms.
  • Trash receptacles were made from salvaged auto engine crates.
  • Soap used on-site is biodegradable and produced by a company that supplies cooking oil, then recycles the used oil to produce soap.

Downtown Baltimore’s Harbor East district where Sandlot is located was home to Baltimore Chrome Works, a chromite processing plant, from the mid-19th century to the 1980s. During the plant’s operation, large quantities of chromium migrated from the site into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as well as the groundwater below the harbor.

Upon the plant’s closing in mid-1989, the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Maryland Department of Environment entered into a Consent Decree with the owner of the site for further investigation and remediation, including construction of a containment structure – a deep vertical hydraulic barrier and a multi-media cap. The containment structure was completed in 1999.

Redevelopment began in earnest in the mid-2000s, with the developer’s vision of Harbor Point being a mixed-use and “exemplary model for brownfield revitalization in an urban waterfront setting.” In September 2013, the Baltimore City Council approved tax increment financing to fund construction of infrastructure and public park space on Harbor Point. The developer of Harbor Point plans to include a 5-acre waterfront park, part of which will be where Sandlot is located, in this long-term revitalization effort. 

  • Using beach sand as a pavement treatment had an installed cost of $1.22 per sf, as compared with using other aggregate materials, such as stone dust, which would have had an installed cost of $4.00 per sf.
  • The pallet planters constructed on site had a lower per unit cost of $200 each compared to typical site-constructed planters made of 6-ft-by-6-ft pressure-treated timbers, which would have cost $600 each. The pallet stage construction cost $5.87 per sf, as compared with standard decking which would have cost $30 per sf.
  • Construction of the deck guardrails from wood shipping pallets cost $38 per linear ft, compared with standard cable metal railings which would have cost $150 per linear ft. 
  • The trees were planted at 3-in caliper size with an average plant material cost of $225 per tree. With a projected growth of 0.5-in caliper per year, the trees should reach a 7-in caliper size before they are transplanted in the proposed future park. Typical 7-in caliper trees of the species that are planted on-site cost $1,300 each, resulting in a cost savings of $1,075 per tree when transplanted in the future development.
  • The sand layer has proven to hold water longer and not drain as quickly as the wood deck or asphalt surfaces on the site. This makes the sand less than ideal from an operations standpoint as visitors avoid the area after rain, affecting sales. The operator has considered installing a hard surface material, e.g. a wood deck, in key activity areas such as the dining space.
  • Due to the grading of the adjacent parking lot, which directs runoff to Sandlot, and the limited stormwater management on site, heavy storms have caused sand erosion and the subsequent need to replenish sand in some areas. The project has invested in additional edging to contain the sand as well as some upgrades to stormwater management infrastructure being mindful of the temporary nature of any site improvements for Sandlot.
  • One of the primary challenges of the site involves the limited amount of shade due to the lack of vegetation and distance from surrounding buildings. In order to control initial cost of construction, the project has taken an additive approach to site development and is incrementally installing additional shade canopies and vegetation.
  • The use of 100% greywater recycling, cooking oil recycling, waste recycling, and composting systems have proven successful in reducing the amount of upfront investment and infrastructure on the site. The addition of solar power and blackwater recycling components would allow the project to be almost 100% self-sufficient and easily replicable.
  • As the site was previously 100% hardscape and no plants were present, the owner installed 25 new trees and a variety of local plant species in hopes of bolstering the area’s native ecosystem. An observational study conducted as part of this case study was unable to confirm that the objective had been met. The proximity of visitors and restaurant activities to the vegetated areas might discourage the activities of pollinators and insects.
  • The public has flocked to the site since its inception, demonstrating the importance of and need for accessible waterfront recreation in Baltimore. However, both the site and food service have at times struggled to keep up with the heavy usage. As a result, the project continues to adapt spatially through site modifications, as well as commercially through product and service upgrades.

Shipping Containers (kitchen, bar and refrigerator): Luke Steckel Enterprises
Pole Lights: Lithonia Lighting
Festoon Lights: Tokistar Lighting
Hammocks: Tentsile Hammocks
Shade Cloth: Commercial 95
Outdoor Sofas: CB2
Galvanized Stock Tanks (for hops): Tarter USA

Project Team

Client/Operator: Foodshed
Developer: Beatty Development Group
Landscape Architect: Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc. 
Architect: BHC Architects
Civil Engineer: RK&K
Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing: JDB Engineering Structural
Engineer: Morris Ritchie Associates
Contractor: Studio on Sisson Street

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect was responsible for generating conceptual sketches for placemaking elements and functional site layouts, pushing the boundaries of temporary site design. Acting as thought leaders for the generation of a typology of site elements, products, and construction methodologies, the landscape architect collaborated closely with the client and builder to find creative solutions for construction implementation on a unique and challenging site.


Water conservation, Reused/recycled materials, Waste reduction, Recreational & social value, Job creation, Visitor spending, Other economic, Play equipment, Reused/recycled materials, Local materials, High-albedo materials, Greywater reuse, Revitalization, Placemaking

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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