28 Walker Development is using heavy timber to build its 40TEN Boston office building at 4010 Boston St. Photo by Ed Gunts.

At first glance, the construction site along Boston Street may look like others in Canton or elsewhere in the city – crane in the sky, columns and beams rising from the ground.

But there’s one trait that sets it apart from others in Baltimore: the method of construction.

The four-story structure is the first office building in Baltimore to be constructed primarily of heavy timber, rather than steel or concrete.

Local developers of apartment buildings often rely on “stick-built” framing systems made of wood cut on site, but for office buildings they typically use steel or concrete.

Other cities have led the way with heavy timber, a construction method that uses large wooden beams to form the framework of a building.

The National Fire Protection Association defines heavy timber construction as a system that has main framing members measuring no less than eight inches by eight inches and exterior walls made of non-combustible materials. The beams can either be glue-laminated or sawn.

The construction process involves prefabricating structural components that are delivered as a “kit of parts” that can be assembled on site – a method different from what homebuilders generally employ. Buildings that use wood in a non-structural, mostly decorative way, such as the recycled wood visible in the elevator lobbies of the Exelon Building at Harbor Point, aren’t considered heavy timber structures.

In Europe, Canada and on the West Coast of the United States, heavy timber construction has become popular as developers find that it can be more environmentally-friendly than building with steel or concrete, since wood is a renewable resource. Heavy timber construction can also help set a building apart from its competitors, aesthetically and for marketing purposes.

Proponents say heavy timber has sufficient structural strength to support buildings up to 18 stories high yet weighs about one-fifth what comparable concrete structures do, reducing the cost to build foundations. Heavy timber construction also has a smaller carbon footprint than steel and concrete construction, and developers say exposed wood can give interiors a warmer, more “rustic” feel.

28 Walker Development is using heavy timber to build its 40TEN Boston office building at 4010 Boston St. Photo by Ed Gunts.

In Baltimore, builders have been slow to embrace heavy timber construction, even though it’s allowed under the city’s building code.

The only other office building that’s being designed as a heavy timber structure is the Under Armour headquarters planned for Port Covington and not yet under construction. Besides that, the only other heavy timber structures in the works in Baltimore are the Johns Hopkins Student Center under construction along Charles Street near 33rd Street, and a multi-family housing development on Aliceanna Street.

The Boston Street office building, called 40TEN Boston because its address is 4010 Boston St., is a project of 28 Walker Development. It’s part of 28 Walker Development’s Collective at Canton mixed-use community.

Moseley Architects is the designer; Chesapeake Contracting Group is the general contractor; StructureCraft is installing the wood frame, and NAI KLNB is the leasing agent. Columbia National Real Estate Finance provided a $28 million construction loan, and MD Energy Advisors provided a $2.5 million “clean energy” loan.

According to the developers, 40TEN Boston will contain 97,000 square feet of space. Half of its office space is leased and all of its ground-floor retail space is leased. Ceilings will be 15 feet high. The building’s wood columns and beams will be visible on the interior. The roof will have an “amenity deck” available to all tenants, featuring views of the downtown skyline and Canton waterfront.

The first tenants will move in during the first quarter of 2023. One of the first tenants, and the only one announced so far, is Celebree School, a childhood education and care center that leased 10,275 square feet of indoor space and will have a 6,000-square-foot outdoor playground.

A rendering shows what the 40TEN building will look like. The building will include office and retail spaces, as well as a rooftop “amenity deck.” Credit: Moseley Architects.

Mark Sapperstein and Scott Slosson, leaders of 28 Walker Development, have often been on the cutting edge of real estate trends in the area, from their decisions about where to build to marketing ideas such as offering a free bicycle to anyone who rents living space at The Wheelhouse Apartments on West Cross Street. As seen with the redevelopment of the former Phillips Seafood property in Locust Point, they like to offer buildings with “charm” and “character” that helps them stand out in a competitive market.

In an announcement about 40TEN Boston that was published last year on citybizlist.com, the developers said “28 Walker chose to utilize heavy timber based on the material’s positive energy efficiency attributes” and its ability to create “an organically warm exterior and interior design with flooring, columns and exposed ceilings all comprised of natural wood.”

Throughout the design and execution of the Canton Master Plan, “we have consistently introduced elements that represented firsts for Baltimore City including attracting retailers such as Target, Sprouts Farmers Market and Mission BBQ, and this heavy timber building represents the latest evolution of this program,” Sapperstein said in the company announcement.

“The aesthetic appeal of wood and projection of warmth and beauty cannot be replicated with steel,” and its use recalls “the iconic interior images of buildings that were constructed during our city’s infancy,” he said.

Sapperstein added that he believes the exposed-wood aesthetic will be valuable for company leaders who want to give employees reasons to return to the office after working remotely.

“The interior design of 40TEN itself reflects a post-pandemic world that meets the evolving needs of companies and employees, with an emphasis on healthy indoor environments and the efficient use of flexible workspaces,” he said.

“Now, more than ever, buildings, creative layouts and employee amenities play an integral role in attracting and retaining talent. We had this in mind when designing 40TEN and believe its one-of-a-kind ambiance and health features will be a corporate advantage that businesses can leverage.”

The developers’ decision to use heavy timber construction has received widespread attention in the real estate industry. 40TEN Boston has been the subject of articles in Commercial Observer; the Design Develop Construct Journal; Commercial Property Executive and Costar Research, as well as local news outlets.

“We believe that if an office tenant wants to work in a run-of-the-mill standard office building, there are plenty of those already within the city of Baltimore,” Sapperstein told Commercial Property Executive. “We didn’t need to add to that.”

Planning Commission approves final design for TouchPoint Empowerment Center at Mondawmin Mall

A rendering of TouchPoint Empowerment Center at Mondawmin Mall. Credit: BCT Design Group.

A local business leader working to convert the vacant Target store next to Mondawmin Mall into a community hub cleared a key hurdle Thursday when Baltimore’s Planning Commission gave final design approval to the project.

Working with the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council, Whiting Turner Contracting Company CEO Tim Regan this year purchased the former Target store at 3201 Tioga Parkway for $1 million and is leading an effort to turn it into the TouchPoint Empowerment Center, a community hub that will help revitalize Mondawmin Mall and the areas around it.

The vision involves bringing in shops and services and launching “businesses, organizations, programs and collaborations” that will empower the community and “lift up Baltimore.” Whiting Turner will have an office there, and several of the services will be health care-related.

The project will also include a workforce development consortium with participants such as the Center for Urban Families; Catholic Charities; BGE; Whiting Turner and Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Regan told the commissioners during a virtual meeting.

“The plan is…to really be a catalyst for development and improvements in the surrounding area, and in a way change the narrative of Mondawmin and in some ways I guess, in a small way, West Baltimore,” he said.

“We all feel very strongly that there is tremendous human capital that’s in these communities and much of it is trapped and never has a chance to see the social capital and the interaction so that it finds its way out. We’re really trying to find a way to do that.”

BCT Design Group is the architect. Mahan Rykiel is the landscape architect and MK Consulting Engineers is the engineer. Planning Commission design approval was required by the Planned Unit Development legislation that guides redevelopment around Mondawmin Mall and the Mondawmin Mass Transit Station. Design review before the planning commission meeting was conducted at staff level. Brookfield Properties owns Mondawmin Mall.

Before it closed in February 2018, the Target store contained 127,000 square feet of space. Regan told commission members that total redevelopment costs for the project are “in the $25 million to $30 million range.” He said his team is aiming to begin construction by early next year and move in tenants starting in the summer of 2023 and continuing for the next year.

Patagonia opening this month at 700 S. Caroline Street

The historic E. J. Codd Company building at 700 South Caroline St. in Fells Point will soon be home to Maryland’s first Patagonia location and the company’s biggest store. Screenshot via Google Maps.

Maryland’s first branch of Patagonia, the California-based outdoor clothing and gear retailer, is expected to open this month in the historic E. J. Codd Company building at 700 S. Caroline St. in Fells Point.

The company hasn’t announced a specific opening date, but its website says it will be in “Summer 2022.” It will be Patagonia’s biggest store, the website states.

“The 15,000 square foot, fully remodeled brick & steel building was constructed in 1882 by the E. J. Codd Company, a boiler manufacturer,” the company said. “We’re excited to repurpose a part of Baltimore’s industrial past.”

Goats, nature’s weed wackers, return to Wyman Park Dell

The Friends of Wyman Park Dell are fundraising to bring back goats to help manage vegetation. Photo via GoFundMe.

In 2020, the Friends of Wyman Park Dell brought in a herd of goats to eat away at the overgrown vegetation on “BMA Slope,” a steep hill that frames one end of the park. Now the group is raising money to bring them back for an encore.

The volunteer organization has launched a GoFundMe drive to raise $3,750 to bring goats from Prosperity Acres, a farm in Sunderland, Maryland, to graze on the slope from October 13 to 16, as part of its long-term plan for managing vegetation. More information about the Friends of Wyman Park Dell is at www.wymanparkdell.org.

Bonstra Haresign Architects and PI.KL Studio named to design next phase of the Center/West development in Poppleton

La Cite Development of New York has selected Bonstra Haresign Architects of Washington to lead a design team for the second phase of its Center/West development in Baltimore’s Poppleton neighborhood.

The first phase of Center/West, completed in 2021, includes 262 apartments, a salt-water pool, landscaped courtyards and two fitness centers. According to the developer, Center/West’s next phase will provide about 600 units of rental housing, including 200 “senior living” apartments and 120 “inclusionary” units.

In addition to Bonstra | Haresign Architects, La Cité’s design team includes Baltimore-based PI.KL Studio, headed by Pavlina Ilieva and Kuo Pao Lian; landscape architect iO Studio; KES Engineering and the Baltimore office of civil and structural engineer Delon Hampton Associates, with retail planning advisor MV+A, and MEP engineer Salas O’Brien.

La Cite’s master plan for Center/West calls for 2,850 units of mixed-income housing plus retail and community space, in four phases of construction.

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Ed Gunts

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

One reply on “Urban Landscape: Baltimore’s first heavy timber office building rises in Canton; TouchPoint Empowerment Center advances; Patagonia opening in Fells Point; Goats return to Wyman Park Dell”

  1. The Warehouse at Camden Yards, which houses a number of businesses, is also built out of heavy timber with a brick exterior.

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