Presented by MCB Real Estate and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation

On Saturday, June 24, 2023, architectural firms, landscape designers, and other creators grabbed their buckets and shovels to build sand sculptures. However, these creatives didn’t head to the beach, they headed to the Harborplace amphitheater located at 301 Light Street for City Sand ’23. “Reimagining Harborplace” was the central theme of the event, which was presented by MCB Real Estate in partnership with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

   Teams were given a total of four hours to complete their sand sculptures. Onlookers gathered around the amphitheater which housed several sandboxes to watch the teams build their creations which had to reflect the central theme. According to Lauren Hill, Executive Director of The Baltimore Architectural Foundation, a total of nine teams comprised of 10 firms participated in the event. 

   “Our goal was to bring energy back to the Inner Harbor and to come up with some creative ideas,” said Hill. “With new organizations looking to come up with new ideas for the future, MCB Real Estate was very interested in collaborating and organizing this event along with us to reimagine the Harbor.”

BCT Design Group won both the Golden Shovel and Silver Bucket awards for their sand creation.
Photo by Ursula V. Battle

   Hill added, “It’s really important to bring people back to the Inner Harbor. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the event. It’s great to see a lot of people out. The teams came with their ideas and put them into place.” 

   When it was all “sand and done,” it was BCT Design Group who scooped, and shaped their way to victory, winning both the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards. As the Judges’ Choice winners, BCT Design Group was awarded the Golden Shovel. The company received the Silver Pail as the People’s Choice winners. Their winning sculpture consisted of three large conjoining hands with the Inner Harbor skyline as its backdrop. 

   Nicole Kreynus, is an Architectural Designer with BCT Design Group. Kreymus said its winning sand sculpture encompassed Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, people, unity and connectedness.

   “When we were thinking about reimaging Harborplace, we all thought Harborplace comes down to the people,” said Kreynus.“The three hands symbolizes unity of people of Baltimore all coming together.”

   BCT Design Group is a collaborative of award-winning studios trusted by local and global clients to bring their projects to life.

   “We collaborated and sketched it out,” said Kreynus. “We brainstormed about what we would need, and it was a team effort. We had seven people from BCT Design Group on our team, and everyone volunteered to do what they naturally did best. Everything turned out nice and we worked very well together. It was a lot of fun. It was great seeing people moving through and stopping to see us.” 

Lauren Hill, Executive Director of The Baltimore Architectural Foundation.
Photo by Ursula V. Battle

   The event was fashioned after an idea that started in 1989 by The Rouse Company at Harborplace and returned after a 10+ year hiatus. MCB Real Estate in partnership with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation brought City Sand back to Harborplace. 

   The Baltimore Architecture Foundation is a 501c(3) non-profit organization that celebrates design and the built environment. BAF reaches thousands of people with its programs and initiatives, from Doors Open Baltimore to Future Architect Resources/Kids In Design. 

   Founded in 2007, MCB Real Estate, LLC is an institutional investment management firm headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. MCB boasts a diverse portfolio of operating assets totaling approximately 14 million square feet of retail, mixed-use, multi-family, industrial, office and medical and life sciences properties with approximately four million square feet of development and redevelopment projects underway. 

   “The Inner Harbor is what people think of first when they think about Baltimore,” said Kreynus.“This event was amazing.”   

   Tyler Miller of the global architecture, design, and planning firm Gensler, said the company paired with landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm Mahan Rykiel to create “Baltimore Time For A New Shell.” 

Tyler Miller of the global design firm Gensler, standing next to “Baltimore Time For A New Shell.”
Photo by Ursula V. Battle

   “Everyone was very excited,” said Miller. “Half of our team is with Gensler, and the other half was from Mahan Rykiel. This was a great event.”

   To learn more about upcoming events at Harborplace, visit

Ursula V. Battle
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