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Terraces offer respite from workaday stress

Jim Astrachan apologizes for the condition of his three tomato plants.

The terrace at Tydings & Rosenberg has a panoramic view of the Inner Harbor and Baltimore’s two sports stadiums.

“I haven’t been able to water them over the weekend … so they don’t look too great,” Astrachan said recently, standing on a balcony outside his law office on East Redwood Street, 21 stories above downtown Baltimore.

Several firms and businesses have terraces in the city as places for respite, client gatherings and in-firm celebrations. City noises are muted, unpleasant odors fade, the view expands to a panorama of Baltimore and the cool winds offer a break from the summer heat.

Astrachan, who bought his plants earlier this year, uses his balcony as “a way to get away from it all.” He hopes to add more plants, such as basil and peppers, if the crop is successful this year.

“I just like growing things,” said Astrachan, of Astrachan Gunst Thomas P.C.. “It’s very stressful. It’s litigation all day. It’s nice to talk to a tomato head rather than a tomato head on the phone, and you can quote me on that.”

Venable LLP, on East Pratt Street, has a different approach to its sky deck. The law firm’s 10th-floor terrace is filled with speakers, chairs and tables and large plants kept by building management. There is also a pergola and bocce ball court.

“We kick off [the bocce ball league] when the summer associates get here,” said Debbie Stickles, director of administration at Venable, who likes to occasionally enjoy her lunch break on the terrace.

Tydings & Rosenberg LLP, on the 27th floor of East Pratt Street, has a rectangular terrace on the south side of the building that overlooks the entire Inner Harbor. Cal Ripken Way, approaching I-95 can easily be seen, as can both Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium; even Francis Scott Key Bridge is visible more than five miles away.

Havas Discovery, a marketing and advertising agency, also has a balcony overlooking the Inner Harbor from its 10th-floor perch on East Pratt Street. The balcony, lined with flowers but too small for social occasions, contains a bench and walking space.

Several Baltimore skyscraper gardens and terraces are private or part of hotel pool decks, many of which are in Harbor East, like Spinnaker Bay and The Promenade.

“It’s like having your own little park,” Stickles said.