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Of the sixteen projects submitted to the AIA Chesapeake Bay Chapter’s annual design competition last year, only four received awards.  We were gratified that our Eastport restaurant project, Blackwall Hitch, was one of them.  It was voted by our peers and the public to receive the People’s Choice Award.

Prior to the revelation of the Jury’s awards, AIA members and the public were invited to review the submissions online and cast a vote for the most compelling.  And Blackwall Hitch is a very compelling story — more than just a renovation, the project was truly a reincarnation. This is how we summarized its story in our submission:

Just over the Spa Creek bridge from downtown Annapolis lies the quirky maritime neighborhood of Eastport. At its gateway and dubiously anchoring its “Restaurant Row” stood a worn building that had been home to a long series of less-than-successful ventures. With large open spaces, its layout was poorly resolved and generally lacking presence and a sense of identity.

New ownership recognized the site’s potential to showcase an upscale, “urban chic” establishment. Site upgrades, including pervious paving, bioretention cells and conservation landscaping, were made with a Water Quality Grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment through cooperation with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Spa Creek Conservancy, and the City of Annapolis. A complete renovation of the building involved a new entry with a nautically-themed stair leading to a new rooftop deck, reconfiguration of the bar and dining area and a new raw bar. The entire exterior image was redefined to better reflect the maritime character of the neighborhood and to provide more light into the bar.