Published  Dec 2, 2016
Dec 2, 2016

By: Christian Castro

Baltimore, Md. -- Sagamore Development Company and The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) today announced that Dean Brown’s “Cleat Bench” has been selected as the winning design proposal for the “Next Great Baltimore Bench.” Brown is a 25-year-old South Baltimore resident, and a designer for Baltimore-based architecture planning firm Design Collective.

Brown’s design proposal was one of many reviewed by a nine-member jury panel, which selected three finalists earlier this year. Finalists were provided funding to build their benches. Brown teamed with Baltimore-area fabricators including OE Custom and Ludwig Design to build a prototype of his Cleat Bench for the jury’s consideration. On Thursday, December 1, the Cleat Bench design was presented to Baltimore City’s Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel as the winner of the competition.

“As a proud resident of South Baltimore, I’m thrilled that my design was chosen for the Next Great Baltimore Bench,” said Dean Brown. “When I first heard about the competition, I felt compelled to create a bench that would truly represent our city’s bright future. I am excited to see Sagamore Development’s plans for Port Covington come to life, and feel grateful and privileged to play a part in that process.”

Sagamore Development and BOPA opened the national competition earlier this year, encouraging artists, artisans, makers and designers from all backgrounds to submit proposals for the “Next Great Baltimore Bench.” While the competition was open to designers from anywhere, it was hoped proposed benches would have a positive Baltimore narrative and strong local connection. It was asked that bench proposals be useful, beautiful, and specific to Baltimore so that the winning bench could be installed throughout the entire landscape and streetscape of Port Covington, a planned 260-acre master planned, mixed-use redevelopment and park system in South Baltimore.

Brown’s Cleat Bench offers the attractiveness and warmth of wood in the simple shape of a boat cleat, making the benches a perfect fit within the landscape. The nautical representation, matched with the bench’s simple geometry, allows the waterfront character of the site to be carried throughout the whole neighborhood.

“As we move forward with this one-of-a-kind opportunity to transform Port Covington into a thriving, active and inclusive neighborhood, we’re looking every day to foster relationships with local artists, designers and craftsmen who capture the spirit of this great city,” said Marc Weller, president of Sagamore Development. “Dean Brown’s proposal not only reminds us of the city’s great maritime history, but provides yet another example of how talented the citizens of Baltimore are.”

“The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts was thrilled to work with Sagamore Development on this competition. Partnering to provide Baltimore artists with opportunities for unique commissions with high profile outcomes is part of BOPA’s commitment to the cultural community. Dean’s design creatively references the important role the waterfront has played in Baltimore’s history and its future which is relevant and appropriate,” said Bill Gilmore, executive director of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.

The nine-member jury panel tasked with selecting finalists, and the winner of the competition, included: Caroline Paff of Sagamore Development; Betsy Boykin of Core Studio Design, Ryan Patterson of BOPA; Ronnie Younts of Younts Design Inc.; Marcus Stephens of Plank Industries; Patrick Sutton of Patrick Sutton Interior Design; Kuo Pao Lian of PI.KL Studios; Elford Jackson of RK&K Engineers LLP; and, Diana Kolnik, a resident in the nearby Westport neighborhood.

“I’m incredibly thankful that Sagamore Development held this open competition, providing a truly unique opportunity for young local designers,” Brown said. “The team (OE Custom and Ludwig Designs) that built the bench was absolutely great - their knowledge, craftsmanship, and attention to detail was exceptional throughout the process and they truly exceeded my expectations."

Ludwig Design, founded by Matt Ludwig in Druid Hill, fabricates and installs custom architectural metalwork, furniture and concrete. OE Custom, founded in 2004 in Baltimore County, specializes in custom renovations, upgrades, accents, make-overs and complete design and build fabrication using solid wood products.

“Being a local small business, it’s great to be able to collaborate with other local craftsmen on such a cool project that benefits the aesthetic appearance of Baltimore City,” added Paul Timmins, co-owner of OE Customs.

OE Custom procures lumber through the urban forest in and around the Baltimore region, working with local tree companies, governments and land owners to put trees that would normally be placed in a waste stream to good use. For more information, visit or


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