LAI Baltimore members participate with Architecture & Planning students on Baltimore-Rotterdam Architecture + Urban Design Exchange Trip

Article authored by:

Klaus Philipsen - LAI Baltimore Chapter Member

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA, is president of ArchPlan Inc., an architecture and urban design firm in Baltimore specializing in award winning community revitalization, adaptive re-use, historic preservation, and transportation projects since 1992. Philipsen received a five-year degree of architecture at the University of Stuttgart, Germany in 1975. He has also worked as an architect and planner in Stuttgart, Germany and London, England and resides in the US since 1986 and has taught architecture and urban design as adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland and at Morgan State University. Full Bio


Susannah Bergmann - LAI Baltimore Chapter Member, LAI Regional Vice President - Eastern North America

Susannah Bergmann owns Kaliber Construction, Inc., a commercial construction firm, with her husband. She was born in the Netherlands, raised in Seattle, WA, lived in New York, and in 1995 made Baltimore area her home.


Rotterdam and Baltimore are both port cities and share many similarities and challenges such as the need for flood resilience, transforming industrial waterfronts, equitable development, and managing post-Covid vacancies due to remote work and a competitive city neighbor close by (Amsterdam, Washington DC).  Although they have significant differences, the two cities offer unique opportunities for learning from each other.  

In March 2023 students, faculty, and professionals visited Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft, Antwerp and beyond. This trip was similar to an extended “LAI Land Economics Gathering” for students. This was the first edition of the in-person Architecture and Urban Design Exchange since the pandemic, and it was an eye-opening experience for all.  Read about the trip organized by Baltimore’s Morgan State University SA+P Associate Professor Cristina Murphy and Dutch collaborator Thijs van Spaandonk.

The trip was so successful that another edition is being planned for 2024 that is intended to be even more impactful. The trip to Rotterdam has now become part of a for-credit course at Morgan’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) taught by Professor Cristina Murphy, so students will receive course credit this time.

In March 2024, students (undergraduate and graduate) and faculty from SA+P will travel to Baltimore’s sister city of Rotterdam. Students will participate in design workshops that are linked to the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR). The trip also includes visits to design firms and architecture schools, architecture tours, lectures, the city of Amsterdam, and more. Community-centered design and environmental sustainability is the focus for this exchange. An exhibition is planned for the end of the semester in Baltimore.

In Fall 2024, professionals and researchers from Rotterdam and Amsterdam, along with faculty and students from Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst (RavB), will reciprocate the exchange by coming to Baltimore. They will participate in design workshops and learn about methodologies and local initiatives for community-based urban development in Baltimore.                                      

As we know, travel experience offers an impactful opportunity for students to widen their horizon and exchange ideas about architectural design, planning, resiliency, and sustainability. For many students this exchange is the first time they have received an opportunity to travel abroad. Students who attended past Baltimore-Rotterdam exchanges shared that it was “eye-opening” and that they appreciated the “exposure to different environments and design” and “innovation over there and the social investment…” It “enhanced our mindset of what it means to be an architect” and made them “want to work internationally.” Dutch student exhibit at RAvB

Spending entire days with industry professionals builds relationships that can support a student’s future.  For example, this year one of the graduate student participants received a paid internship at the Rotterdam firm Powerhouse Company and a graduate landscape architect student received a civic fellowship.  Professionals can also learn new ideas and perspectives from the  next generation of designers plus, of course, benefit from all of the local industry experts’ presentations, tours, and discussions.

LAI Member Klaus Philipsen was a speaker, participant, and mentor. He chronicled the Rotterdam trip  experience in his blog trilogy linked here:

Urban Design

We thank these LAI Baltimore members and firms who were donors and sponsors of the 2023 trip:

Anonymous donor
brennan+company architects
Nathan Betnun
Michael Cordes
Jerry & Carol Doctrow
Klaus Philipsen, ArchPlan Inc.
Quinn Evans

Inside Powerhouse Company’s floating office in Rotterdam Photo Credit: AR

Inside Powerhouse Company’s floating office in Rotterdam Photo Credit: AR



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