Crossroads at Towson Row
Towson, Maryland, is transforming into a bustling college town that will rival the most livable towns across the nation. Crossroads, jointly developed by Gilbane and Greenberg Gibbons, anchors the 1.2 million sf. mixed-use development called Towson Row by Master Developer Greenberg Gibbons. It is prominently found at the intersection of two major streets—York Road and Towsontown Boulevard—at the southern gateway into Downtown Towson. Here, MV+A was tasked with the challenge of planning and designing a Whole Foods Market and plaza facing in-line retail with stick-built residential atop it all.
The tight urban building site presents several challenges, most notably a 35′ height difference across the site, activity wanted all around the perimeter, and the existence of a historic railroad abutment. MV+A was able to make creative use of the grade difference across the site by stacking the grocer above plaza-facing retail and residential lobby programs. This arrangement makes use of the rapidly rising sidewalks around the building to allow all retailers, including the grocer, and the residential lobby to have direct access from the sidewalks. While this arrangement creates the desired all-around perimeter activation, the nature of that activation varies as one walks around the block. A much quieter experience with the residential lobby lining the majority of the York road frontage changes to a plaza-fronting retail experience along Towsontown Boulevard and eventually culminates in the Whole Foods Market experience along the higher, newly planned Towson Row Avenue at the center of the development.
The linear plaza along Towsontown Boulevard provides much needed outdoor space for the community and allows the retail programming to spill out into the outdoors. The plaza extends all the way east and incorporates within its footprint the historic railroad abutment found at the previously mentioned southern gateway. The building corner here is carved to acknowledge the existence of the abutment and while it functions as a contrasting background to the abutment, the architecture language here has been devised to give the viewer a layered timeline of the past and the future at this site. As Downtown Towson is being made over, MV+A considers itself fortunate to have a hand in sculpting its future.