UA headquarters rendering
Under Armour is on target to begin construction next year on the first phase of its new global headquarters in Port Covington.

Company representatives today presented preliminary designs for the project to Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel as part of the process of obtaining construction permits.

“We expect to break ground in ’17, with a delivery in 2020 for the first phase,” said Neil Jurgens, vice president of global corporate real estate for Under Armour.

Plans for Phase 1 call for 500,000 square feet of work space, parking for 1,500 cars and related landscape improvements. The tallest buildings in the first phase will be about 130 feet tall.

The sportswear company is currently based in Locust Point. Its first completed building in Port Covington was the conversion to offices of a former Sam’s Club big box store.  The master plan calls for the 50-acre site eventually to contain 3.9 million square feet of work space and parking for up to 5,000 cars.

Jurgens said the first phase is being designed to accommodate up to 1,500 employees, who will join the 500 to 600 who now work in the converted Sam’s Club, called Building 37.

Jurgens said he could not provide a figure for how much Phase 1 will cost or specifics on which Under Armour departments will be located there.  He said Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Pennsylvania, the master planner for the headquarters campus, is also the architect for the buildings in Phase 1.

The entire headquarters at East Cromwell Street and West Peninsula Drive consists of four stages of construction, including 12 separate “initiatives” over 25 years, according to BCJ principal Frank Grauman. Beyond a certain point, it will be “pedestrian only,”  he said.

Design review panel members questioned the size of one proposed garage, which was shown as being 800 feet long and up to 120 feet high.

“It’s probably one of the biggest garages in Baltimore,” said panel member Gary Bowden.

“Can it be broken in two? Can it be staggered?” asked panel member Rich Burns.

They also questioned the company’s plans to provide public access to Ferry Bar Park, a city-owned park at the southern tip of Port Covington.

Jurgens said Under Armour plans to close the park temporarily to reconstruct it, but when it reopens it will continue to be open to the public.

He said the dirt excavated during construction will be spread over the 50-acre site to raise the grade and help the peninsula withstand any rising water levels associated with climate change.

He also said Under Armour plans to continue to own and occupy its current headquarters in South Baltimore. “For the foreseeable future,” he said, “we’re looking at holding onto Tide Point.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.