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Under Armour to Build Massive Mass Timber HQ in Baltimore

According to Gensler studio director Joseph Rivers the project is "like kids in a candy shop for architects"


Fri 16 Jun 23

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Under Armour is pushing the boundaries of the envelope by announcing its new 26,012 square meter mass timber building in Baltimore, USA.

Spearheaded by architectural practice Gensler, the project sets new standards for combining cutting-edge design, sustainability, and efficient construction techniques.

Architects are buzzing with excitement. “It’s like being a kid in a candy shop for architects,” shares Joseph Rivers, studio director of Gensler. The unique blend of novel materials and sustainability systems employed in the project is rarely seen in the industry.

“We talk about these sustainability systems all the time, but very infrequently, they all get employed.”

“I think this building will help lead the region towards a more sustainable future.”

CLT is the standard feature in the net-zero building

The building’s distinct form, resembling a sports stadium with a front façade canopy crafted from an innovative fluorine-based polymer, is already turning heads.

The development is part of a new Under Armour Global Campus. Footage courtesy of @ImeUmoh

However, the standout feature is its cross-laminated timber structure, an unusual material choice for such a high-profile project in the city.

The plans were unveiled at Baltimore’s (Urban Design & Architecture Advisory Panel) meeting last month.

The Gensler-designed building, known as Teammate Building 2 (TMB2), will achieve a net-zero operation goal by significantly reducing embodied and operational carbon.

The building will also qualify for the LEED-Platinum certification.

While the cross-laminated timber (CLT) details have not been revealed, Gensler’s design lays out the structure in a 9 x 9 metre grid.

This approach standardises the beam depths and column sizes, optimising construction efficiency and cost.

Rivers highlights that mass timber’s cost has been driven down over the past five years, now standing as only a small premium over traditional materials like concrete or steel.

Plus, it offers a significant speed advantage in erection.

Under Armour’s commitment to ‘Act Sustainably’

Built in accordance with Under Armour’s commitment to ‘Act Sustainably,’ the building will be a hub for collaboration.

The new building meets Under Armour’s commitment to ‘Act Sustainably’ and will qualify for LEED Platnum certification. (Image credit: Gensler)

Alongside interior spaces designed to foster teamwork, it will host a flagship retail store open to the public and state-of-the-art sports facilities.

These will be nestled within a vibrant landscape that encourages pedestrian movement throughout the campus and the picturesque waterfront.

Rivers says additional manufacturing plants have also helped drive down the cost of mass timber over the past five years to where it is only a small premium over concrete or steel.

Another ‘plus’ is mass timber can be “significantly quicker” to erect than concrete or steel, Rivers says.

The new complex will also have a network of photovoltaic roof panels, a geothermal system, sunshades for solar heat reduction, a rainwater harvesting system, HVAC that provides 100% fresh air intakes, and an energy recovery system.

Mass Timber at the forefront of Gensler Research Institute

While the project is one of the architect’s largest mass timber commissioned, Gensler has been involved in about 100 projects, representing millions of square metres.

According to Gensler studio director Joseph River, mass timber can be erected significantly quicker than concrete or steel.

Joseph Rivers says mass timber has been at the forefront at the Gensler Research Institute, a network of researchers looking at new design ideas.

“I would say the industry has caught up on construction methodologies and technologies,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot more clients wanting to explore it.”

The side of the building facing the company’s track and field facility will be framed in glass, engineered to reduce solar heat.

“The biggest exterior challenge for us was how to create a building with 360 deg. visibility which feels connected (to the community) and really represents the brand,” Rivers said.

Bobby Blabolil, senior associate and architectural designer with Gensler, says the sooner the building is erected and enclosed, the sooner interior installation starts, and tests on the high-performance, sustainable systems will be completed for the opening of the building in late 2024.

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  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.

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