Mahan Rykiel Associates is an award-winning landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm with offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Hong Kong. We recently caught up with Tom McGilloway, who works as a professional landscape architecht for Mahan Rykiel. He took some time to reflect on the work he does and how design helps create vibrant urban communities.
Tell us a bit about your firm and what you do?
Mahan Rykiel Associates is a landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm. We have a broad portfolio of project types including parks, downtowns, transportation enhancements, retail, healthcare and campuses. My area of focus is park and campus planning and design, and downtown/neighborhood revitalization. A particular focus of mine is working with “Main Street” communities throughout the country. Outside of the office, I was involved in the Hampden Main Street program for 8 years and continue to be actively involved with Friends of Wyman Park Dell and Friends of Stony Run.
What do you love about working in Baltimore?
I feel “connected” in Baltimore. Living and working in the city gives me the opportunity to work with organizations, both professionally and as a volunteer, that are important to the city, particularly in North Baltimore. I am fortunate to interface with great people in both the public and private sectors. Sure, there are many frustrations with life in Baltimore, but the positive outweighs the negative. There are so many passionate people in the community committed to making a difference. It is inspiring!
Why do you choose to support Greater Homewood and the Neighborhood Institute?
The main reason is that I believe GHCC is a fantastic organization that has done a lot for North Baltimore. My relationship with GHCC has been beneficial to me both professionally and as a resident of the Greater Homewood area.
Are there any projects around town that you have worked on which you are particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of Mahan Rykiel’s master plan for the Wyman Park Dell. It has served as an implementation framework for the City, Friends of Wyman Park Dell and local volunteer groups. It continues to allow partners to work together to improve this important open space. To give a little background, The Wyman Park Dell is an historic Olmsted Brothers park located next to the Baltimore Museum of Art, that has maintained its design integrity since the early 1900’s.
The master plan has provided a guide for many completed projects including restoration of the historic stone wall, a new playground, park signage and the planting of/care for over 100 trees. The Beta Fraternity and baseball team from the Johns Hopkins University have helped us for many years with picking up trash, planting trees, removing invasive plants and other maintenance projects. Another exciting project coming soon is a permanent outdoor ping pong table which wouldn’t be possible without the fundraising efforts and creative thinking of Ping Pong Baltimore. The master plan provides a framework for all of these positive things to happen.
What role do you think design plays in building healthy and vibrant communities?
Design allows one to thoughtfully implement creative ideas to improve a place, making it more conducive to positive activity and investment. Good design extends beyond aesthetics and, if done well and done with user groups/the community in mind, can fascilitate economic development and social interaction while being sensitive to the environment and the inherent qualities of a particular place.
Can you share an example of a great project in the area?
There are many. The investment and revitalization that is happening in Remington and neighborhoods throughtout the city continues to highlight the rich variety of places we have in Baltimore. Patterson Park continues to be a model for parks throughout the city and demonstrates the power of investing in our parks and open spaces.