The USS Constellation wanted to update its existing visitor center to enhance its presence in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. W Architecture worked with the client to find an approach that would satisfy the city’s approvals and the client’s budgetary needs for this vital Inner Harbor site. Three different approaches were investigated and approved by the city with a desire to create a dynamic entry sequence to the historic ship, and address the operational needs of the USS Constellation Museum. Pier 1 was to be activated as an integral part of the Inner Harbor experience.
To achieve these goals, and address the client’s tight budget, W proposed a prefab frame building, independent from the ship with an elevated plaza, creating a welcoming entry point. The exhibit begins in this plaza, where visitors converge with the grand scale of the ship. The display guides visitors through the center, where they learn about the ships history, and onto the vegetated roof where they can access the ship and view the Inner Harbor. Iconic translucent bulkheads enclosing the stairs extend through the roof allowing light and people to travel between the museum and the ship.
Additional improvements were made to ensure the safety and sustainability of the ship and the museum. The design and elevated plaza allow the museum to rise above the 100 year flood plain. The green roof lessens storm water runoff and additional rainwater will be captured and recycled as irrigation for onsite vegetation.