Contract commits RTKL Associates to move into new office tower


March 06, 1991|By Edward Gunts

Despite recent layoffs that have reduced its Baltimore staff from 375 to about 300 and its worldwide staff from 700 to 600, Baltimore's largest architecture firm is still committed to move its headquarters from 400 E. Pratt St. to the Commerce Place office tower under construction at South and Baltimore streets.

Harold Adams, chairman of RTKL Associates, said the firm is contractually obligated to move into the 30-story building, where it has leased about 100,000 square feet of space. If RTKL does not need all that space as a result of staff reductions, it could end up subleasing some of it to other tenants, Mr. Adams said.

Mr. Adams and developer Leonard Harlan said that there is no truth to speculation within the local real estate industry that construction of the Commerce Place tower will be halted once contractors finish the shell of the garage.

Mr. Harlan said the building was not designed so that work can stop with the roof of the garage and resume once developers are ready to proceed with the office tower above, as was the case with the St. Paul Plaza garage and office complex or the 414 Water St. garage.

Mr. Harlan said he and his co-developer, Kajima Development Corp., have awarded all of the contracts for the tower and are still aiming for a spring 1992 completion.

Another sign that work on the tower is moving ahead is that crews this week began erecting a 550-foot-tall crane that will be used to build the tower. When it's in place by the end of the week, the crane will be the tallest in the city, according to a Harlan spokeswoman.

RTKL, the only tenant announced so far for the 450,000 square-foot building, said this week it would lay off five of its 32 principals, including three in Baltimore.

Mr. Adams said the company has recently landed several important commissions, including the replacement of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and the $70 million Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

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