Under Armour Stretches Out

Sports Apparel Company Needed More Space For Its 2,600 Employees

December 11, 2009|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker , andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Sports apparel company Under Armour began this week expanding into new offices across the street from its headquarters at the Tide Point office complex in South Baltimore.

With the addition of the new offices, Under Armour will now occupy five buildings at Tide Point, creating a 265,000-square-foot mini-campus. The headquarters was originally about 125,000 square feet.

The company announced two years ago that it planned a $14.2 million renovation on the 7.2-acre property between Beason Street and Key Highway, the site of an old warehouse and freight company. The company did not release financial figures on the project's final cost. Tide Point is a former Procter & Gamble manufacturing facility, and its buildings are named after some of its products.

Under Armour has grown rapidly in the past decade from a small company started by Kevin Plank in his grandmother's basement to an international company with 2,600 employees. It has slowly started to become too big for its headquarters. The new building will house about 450 employees.

J. Scott Plank, the brother of Kevin Plank, said the old building wasn't the most efficient space to do things such as create products and display new merchandise. Plank, also executive vice president for business development, said the new building also better represents the Under Armour brand.

The Cheer building, named after the detergent, will have 14 showrooms, expansive meeting spaces and an innovation lab where new products are created. There are also plans for a gym run by FX Studios.

One of the meeting spaces will be centered on a basketball court where executives can stand on the court while some employees gather around them and others look down from rafters above.

Scott Plank said the search for the campus was several years in the making. He visited companies around the country, including Quicksilver, PacSun, Google, Intuit and some sports companies, which he declined to name. He said there was no one company the campus was modeled after. They took ideas from many.

The company has looked at building another campus on the waterfront in West Covington. But Plank said Thursday that the company has decided Tide Point is the best place to call home for now.

"We looked at a whole lot of different spaces," Plank said. "The best place was actually right here under our noses the whole time."

The new building also includes several environmentally friendly features. Sunroofs and big windows provide natural lighting, and the roof is painted white to reflect the sun's heat and reduce the need for air conditioning. The company used recycled desks, carpet and ceiling tiles.

There are smaller touches that symbolize the company's brand. Pictures on bathroom doors are silhouettes of athletes. The corporate colors - black, red and yellow - are featured throughout the building. The cafeteria is called the "Hungry and Humble Cafe," named after the salutation Kevin Plank uses to sign off his e-mail messages to employees.

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