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.
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.
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.
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.