From Rooftop Terraces to Pickleball: Modern Design and Amenities Create Enticing Workspaces

Content presented by NAIOP Maryland

From biophilic features in a mass timber building to custom-built offices in the heart of a mixed-use community to the reinvention of a downtown skyscraper, many of NAIOP Maryland’s 2024 Awards of Excellence winners created exemplary, even visionary, places to work.

Tasked with designing new offices for Greenberg Gibbons, the team at JP2 Architects was both inspired and challenged by the location — 14,000 square feet in the 40TEN mass timber building. The building’s design included expansive window walls, exposed timber columns, a fully exposed wood deck on the ceiling, and the placement of mechanical and electrical systems beneath the floors.

To preserve the bright, open space and to create a desirable workplace, JP2 proposed an uncommon layout – namely, placing cubicles near a window wall and moving many private offices to the interior.

“It took a little courage to go to Greenberg Gibbons and propose dedicating this really wonderful space with views and daylight to cubicles. It arranged the space so that the lowest level employee in the company might end up with a near-window seat,” said Jamie Pett, Founding Partner and Principal at JP2.

The Greenberg Gibbons headquarters includes expansive window walls, exposed timber columns, and a fully exposed wood deck on the ceiling. Photo courtesy of JP2 Architects

Greenberg Gibbons not only embraced the idea but also chose to dedicate “some of the most valuable square footage in their office” to communal space, Pett said. Between their lobby and a window wall, Greenberg Gibbons created huddle spaces, conference space and the “social garden” – a gathering space with varied seating options for dining, working or events plus a kitchen and espresso bar.

Selection and installation of materials was critical to the project’s success. Determined to avoid cluttering or covering any of the wood deck ceiling, “we coordinated with our electrical engineers and curated where conduits would be placed,” said Tenille Jordan, Associate Principal at JP2.

Jordan completed deep research to find attractive and affordable glazed partitions for interior offices, closely coordinated placement of under-floor HVAC and electrical equipment, and sourced magnetized wood flooring plus carpeting with special adhesive to facilitate easy access to under-floor systems.

Columbia Corporate Park consists of five buildings and a variety of amenities and complimentary services for the onsite employees. Photo courtesy of Merritt Properties

The result is a warm, natural, inviting space.

“Anecdotally, I have had people say to me, ‘I would rather come in and work here than work at home,’” Pett said.

In Maple Lawn, Buch Construction was on a similar quest to create distinctive workspaces that would bring employees back to the office and attract new workers to the company. The design for the 40,000-square-foot, build-to-suit facility ultimately included a variety of workspaces to accommodate the company’s highly collaborative work culture and meeting rooms with advanced technology to best serve clients.

“Buch Construction is a national contractor with clients across the country so they needed rooms with high tech that felt and functioned like they were in the room with their clients,” said Michael Greenebaum, President of Greenebaum Enterprises.

The project team designed the building to serve as a showcase of Buch Construction’s capabilities, to inspire employees and provide them with an outstanding workspace. Amenities include a homestyle kitchen that is sufficiently large and equipped to serve as a catering kitchen for events, a golf simulator, a barbeque grill and gathering spaces.

Through the renovation of 100 Light Street, COPT Defense Properties devoted nearly 10 percent of interior space to top-quality amenities and created the two-acre Lumen Plaza at the base of the skyscraper. Photos courtesy of COPT Defense Properties

“The hallmark of the building is the third-floor outdoor terrace. It is set up for entertaining, it has amazing views and it, like the rest of the building, is executed at a very high level,” Greenebaum said. “It makes you want to head over to their building in the middle of the day and just hang out.”

Another element of the project’s success was an unexpected site selection. Buch Construction had been considering another parcel in Maple Lawn “when the idea came up to look at a different site,” Greenebaum said. “This site was originally going to be a retail site. It is next to a hotel and right across from other retail. But we are all about mixed-use in Maple Lawn and putting an office building right next to a hotel and retail would energize the business district.”

Buch Construction liked the idea of giving employees easy options to duck out for lunch and Greenebaum liked the prospect of providing retailers with a new infusion of onsite workers to serve.

For Greenebaum, it was a strong reminder that “over the years, industries change, businesses change, people’s needs change. The vision for your community has to be flexible and sometimes you have to change your masterplan to meet everybody’s needs.” Amenities were outstanding aspects of several other Awards of Excellence winners.

The 10490 Amenity Lounge project by Howard Hughes Holdings transformed a previously underutilized space into an attraction. Serving seven office buildings in Merriweather Row, the Amenity Lounge provides coworking space, collaboration and heads-down workspaces, and the flexibility to use the space for conferences and training sessions. The lounge has a high-top bar and a games area with ping pong, shuffleboard and a golf simulator. It offers direct access to an outdoor patio and connects to a new fitness center.

The Buch Construction headquarters features a bright, modern interior, a variety of inviting workspaces, expansive amenities and connections to the outdoors. Photo courtesy of Greenebaum Enterprises

Set on 88 acres, Columbia Corporate Park provides tenants with access to five buildings and more than 480,000 square feet of Class A office space, but also an impressive array of complimentary services and amenities. Onsite employees have exclusive access to a 3,900-square-foot fitness center, a 32-seat shared conference room, an outdoor courtyard and onsite restaurant. Developer Merritt Properties also operates The Core — a community lounge with a micro market, collaborative seating, private chat room, ping pong table, and two newly developed outdoor pickleball courts.

When Baltimore’s Central Business District experienced a downturn, COPT Defense Properties embarked on a bold transformation of 100 Light Street. The company devoted nearly 10 percent of the entire building – 50,000 square feet in total – to shared amenity space. It created 1817 – two, complete floors with sky-high panoramic views of the city and featuring a spa-quality fitness center, a made-to-order café, a grab-and-go market, a flexible lounge space, and games area. Separately, COPT established a 100-plus-seat conference center with a preconference lounge and kitchen. It also created Lumen Plaza – two acres of new landscaping that offers fresh opportunities to relax at the base of the 35-story building.

“We are proud of what we have delivered. We have given the market a new reason to come and take a look at 100 Light Street,” said John Hermann, Vice President, Asset Management and Leasing for COPT Defense Properties.

COPT is still working to fully lease the 125,000 square feet that TransAmerica vacated in the building. But a growing number of professional services firms have been impressed by 100 Light’s shared amenities and by the ability to use shared space and keep their leased space low.

“Based on the fact that we have executed a number of leases in the last six to 12 months, there is optimism that we will be successful with that building despite the headwinds we have seen in the market,” Hermann said.

40TEN Chesapeake Contracting Group

As Baltimore’s first mass timber office building, 40TEN delivers a bright, open, biophilic workspace.

Spanning four stories and 105,000 square feet, 40TEN features exposed timber structure, wood ceilings, expansive glass lines, large common areas and a floor-to-ceiling height of 15 feet. Built on a repurposed brownfield, the building prioritizes sustainability and occupant wellbeing through multiple design choices. Those include dowel-laminated timber floors, glulam post-and-beam structures, electrochromic glass to manage solar gain, and raised-floor access to HVAC systems for energy-efficient management and occupant comfort.

40TEN also responds to the community’s needs by combining retail amenities and services in the office property.

Administrative Office of the Courts at Annapolis Corporate Park St. John Properties, Inc.

Following an intensive feasibility study, St. John Properties completely reconfigured a fully developed site to create 50,400 square feet of Class A space for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Faced with an aggressive delivery schedule, St. John Properties completed design and permitting of the two-story office over a two-level parking structure within five months then embarked on a 16-month construction and interior fitout project. The $3.9 million fitout included redundant power and HVAC for an onsite server room, as well as power distribution units, UPS battery backup and diesel generators.