David A. Wallace, 87, the urban planner whose design for reviving Baltimore's Inner Harbor provided a model for transforming other downtown waterfronts from tawdry warehouse districts to tasteful tourism magnets, was found dead with his wife July 19 at his home in Philadelphia.
A Philadelphia police spokeswoman said Dr. Wallace and his wife, Joan, 83, had committed suicide. They had consumed a mixture of alcohol and narcotics and were found with plastic bags over their heads, she said. The spokeswoman said that Dr. Wallace had prostate cancer and that his wife was terminally ill.
Dr. Wallace, a leading figure of inner-city renewal, taught for 17 years at the University of Pennsylvania and was a retired partner of the Philadelphia design firm of Wallace, Roberts and Todd.
His earliest work included plans for redevelopment of blighted parts of Philadelphia. After his achievement in Baltimore in the 1960s, he devised a master plan for Lower Manhattan's fading commercial district to complement the new World Trade Center.
He said he always considered the long-term fiscal welfare of a city.
He called the Baltimore project "the major one of my professional life."
When he arrived in Baltimore in 1957, he was distinctly unimpressed with what he saw: the warehouse-laden waterfront and the decrepit buildings with their backs to the harbor; food and other material floating in the water; and an impenetrable grid of streets making the area all but inaccessible to traffic.
He had a major role in planning the city's Charles Center, a plaza-and-office building project a few blocks north of the harbor. He saw Charles Center as the key to further change.
Recruited by the city's top businessmen, he became director of the Greater Baltimore Committee's planning council and drafted the conceptual plan that transformed a seedy harbor into a 250-acre enclave fit for the convention trade.
His 30-year, $260 million plan envisioned a clean public space. He established guidelines for a ring of buildings around the harbor that provided a more aesthetically appealing framework for the city's skyline.
There was some opposition, especially when Dr. Wallace suggested tearing down "the Block," a nearby zone of honky-tonks, pool halls and burlesque theaters with bump-and-grind artistes. Business owners objected, and one man said that razing the Block was "just like tearing down Bourbon Street" in New Orleans.
"A well-planned city should cater to all sorts of impulses," the designer replied, adding that the new inner harbor would be a far more lucrative attraction.
The Block stayed, much to his consternation. Some of the plan changed as well over the years, with high-rise buildings, parking areas and restaurant barges appearing as federal urban renewal funding withered.
Sidney N. Brower, professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland, said Dr. Wallace's Baltimore work remains, with Boston's Faneuil Hall, an archetype for urban-renewal ventures undertaken in the face of skepticism that such large projects could work.
"There were not many dramatic examples of inner-city turnarounds," he said. "First Charles Center and then the Inner Harbor served as national examples."
Dr. Wallace was involved with large-scale redevelopment plans in New York City, along New Jersey's Hudson River riverfront and in Norfolk.
He decried "homogenization" of waterfronts, telling an audience of urban renewal experts in 1983, "There is a very real problem that all the waterfronts will begin to look alike, instead of retain their unique character."
David Alexander Wallace Jr. was born in Chicago and raised in Philadelphia. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a master's degree in architecture. He served in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II.
He said his mother, a social worker, played an influential role in his career. Because of her, he went to Los Angeles to study race and city planning with the noted black architect Paul R. Williams. In the early 1950s, he received a master's degree in city planning and a doctorate in urban planning, both from Harvard University. His doctoral thesis was on planning policies that contributed to racial segregation in Chicago.
In the early 1950s, he became chief of planning and development for Philadelphia's redevelopment authority, and taught planning and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania from 1962 to 1979.
In 1963, he became a founding partner of his Philadelphia planning and design firm. After formally retiring in 1991, he maintained a working relationship with the firm and wrote a book, "Urban Planning My Way," published this year.
He was a 2003 recipient of the American Planning Association's distinguished service award.