Under Armour unveiled designs Thursday for a new global headquarters in South Baltimore’s Port Covington, featuring a soaring, stadium-like glass structure with a solar panel canopy, ground-floor flagship store and a performance center for employees and visiting athletes.
The Baltimore-based brand touted the building as cutting-edge both in its energy efficiency and facilities for creating and testing performance-based sports apparel and footwear.
“We want this building to pop,” said Vaki Mawema, principal and co-managing director of Gensler Baltimore, Under Armour’s architect. “We want it to be a really impressive thing to look at but also an amazing thing that you want to go and discover ... We want it to be iconic and memorable.”
Rendering of Under Armour's Port Covington corporate headquarters design, as seen from the planned multi-use field on its south side. (Courtesy of Under Armour / HANDOUT)
Besides becoming a workplace for 1,500 corporate employees, the planned Cromwell Street campus is expected to draw customers to shop, elite athletes to try out products, and schools and community members to use a track-and-field facility and multi-sport playing field.
State-of-the art athletic facilities, which include a basketball court, will be used to test products in development and measure athletes’ performance.
Under Armour also said it’s aiming to create one of the region’s most environmentally sustainable buildings by using carbon-reducing designs, materials and technology.
A rendering featuring an overview of Under Armour's Port Covington corporate headquarters and campus. (Courtesy of Under Armour / HANDOUT)
The headquarters, to be developed on 50 acres on company-owned property, has long been planned as a key anchor of Port Covington, the massive waterfront community sprouting south of Interstate 95.
Under Armour downsized earlier plans about a year ago, saying a re-imagined hybrid workplace means it will need less space than it leases and owns at its current Tide Point headquarters in nearby Locust Point. And it will need far less space than originally projected in 2016, just before years of rapid brand growth skidded to a halt and it put plans for the new headquarters on hold.
The larger Port Covington project is being developed separately by Sagamore Ventures, owned by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, and Goldman Sachs, which started construction in 2019 on five mixed-use buildings, including the centerpiece Rye Street Market.
The vision for the 235-acres along Cromwell Street includes up to 14 million square feet of shops, restaurants, office space and housing, plus 40 acres of parks, across 45 new city blocks. On Tuesday, Sagamore announced that two national developers of high-profile urban projects have joined the team to lead the next phase of development.
Under Armour and project architects presented plans for the headquarters Thursday to the city’s Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel, one step in a timeline aiming to start construction by the end of the year.
Panel members praised the design and campus layout for its reflection of Under Armour’s own innovation and mission, calling the building “spectacular” and likely to become a focal point for the city. But they said even more can be done to take the project to the next level in welcoming employees and visitors.
Panel member Pavlina Ilieva said the team set “an extraordinary tone” for the campus.
“It matters not that it’s no longer two large towers,” Ilieva said. “It matters that it reflects where Under Armour is today, that it’s looking forward into the future and that it’s here in Baltimore. What the iconic building has to offer here is it really has an opportunity to be a great destination.”
Under Armour’s 1,500 corporate employees, who now work in Locust Point and in one building at the Port Covington site, would complete a move to the new building by 2025 and likely continue a workplace model that mixes on-site and remote work, said Neil Jurgens, Under Armour’s senior vice president of global real estate.
The proposed headquarters will offer “an innovative, collaborative and flexible work environment that supports our hybrid work philosophy,” Under Armour President and CEO Patrik Frisk said in an announcement of the proposed design.
Rendering of Under Armour's Port Covington corporate headquarters design, as seen from the east. (Courtesy of Under Armour / HANDOUT)
The five-story, 280,000-square-foot building would include the Under Armour store and a performance center with gym, weight rooms, and a recovery and wellness center on the first floor and employee offices on upper floors. The building is expected to reach a goal of net-zero operation through carbon-reducing designs and materials.
The waterfront property will feature spaces for workplace collaboration and pedestrian pathways.
“This is a reflection of who we are” as a company, Jurgens said.
It will be built with sustainably forested “mass timber,” a form of superstructure construction using natural wood engineered for greater strength with decreased “embodied” carbon — the carbon dioxide — emitted in producing the material.
This rendering of Under Armour's Port Covington corporate headquarters design depicts its eco-friendly elements. The building is designed to qualify for LEED-Platinum certification. (Courtesy of Under Armour / HANDOUT)
The design also will rely on geothermal technology for heating, cooling and water reduction. The building will be outfitted with an architectural wrapper of “ETFE,” a high-performance fabric layered on the facade that helps reduce solar heat gain and sun glare to the building, which transitions to photovoltaic panels, giving it a “unique character like nothing else in the city,” Mawema said.
The building’s north-side entrance, facing Cromwell Street and Port Covington, will feature the Under Armour name and a customizable lighting display. The design aims to convey the brand’s strength and efficiency, Mawema said.
Rendering of Under Armour corporate headquarters design, facing Port Covington and Cromwell Street. (Courtesy of Under Armour / HANDOUT)
“It’s shape is going to be like nothing else in Baltimore,” the architect said. “We approached the design so that the project gets people moving within it and around it. Movement is a huge part of how we will understand and experience the Under Armour brand, not just within the building but across the whole campus.”
Under Armour currently has offices in a building on site known as Building 37. The building was recently renovated and will reopen shortly, housing product innovation and technical design teams. The company began site development and work on the track and field facility in February.