Winners of the Golden Shovel and People’s Choice Award with their finished product. Photo: Dorothy Yeager/City Sand at Harborplace

1990s City Sand Sculpture Contest Revived at Inner Harbor

A favorite summer event from the heyday of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor waterfront is back for locals and tourists to enjoy.

After an 11-year hiatus, Harborplace hosted the City Sand event over the weekend, calling on local architectural groups to create sand sculptures in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The theme for the show’s revival was ‘Reimagining Harborplace’ in light of the long break the event has had since the early 2000s. The teams created what they believe is a look to the future for Baltimore’s Inner Harbor development, once called the city’s “crown jewel”.

City Sand was started in 1989 by the Rouse Company at Harborplace and was a yearly anticipated event. MCB Real Estate partnered with Baltimore Architecture Foundation to bring this event back to the Inner Harbor. 

“As we reimagine Harborplace with the City of Baltimore, we are extremely excited to bring amazing events to the Baltimore Harbor”, said David Bramble, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of MCB Real Estate.

The event benefits the Baltimore Architecture Foundation nonprofit organization, encouraging people to explore more of what Baltimore has to offer in the realm of architecture. Teams represented local design firms, architects, landscape designers and more. 

The actual building of the sculptures happened Saturday, June 24. Builders worked from 11-3 on their sculptures and were judged the same afternoon. The day was humid with rain off and on throughout the event, posing a challenge for sand building. Tents were set up to help protect the designers, who were stained orange from the damp sand. 

The sand used comes from Southway Builders with each team being responsible for providing their own forms, shovels, tools and buckets. No power tools were permitted along with paint, additives, armatures, frameworks or accessories were allowed. Just sand and water, which was provided on site.

The winners of both the judging portion and the People’s Choice Award was BCT Design Group. Their sculpture depicts hands linked at the wrists in their 10’ x 10’ x 1’ (3.7 square yard) design space. They were presented with the Golden Shovel Award.

Niki Kreynus was one of the winning architectural designers from BCT Design Group.“The design intent was just thinking about what the Inner Harbor means to us as far as how we approach a lot of our architectural projects locally,” Kreynus says. 

Nupur Mistry, one of BCT’s interns, came up with the design of the hands linked together. Her idea stemmed from the Baltimore community, “honing in and focusing on people and community as a key theme in our design.”

BCT had a team of eight designers working on the sand sculpture and finished in about four hours. Organizers plan to make the revied City Sand an annual event once again.

-Dorothy Hood