Baltimore, MD | 4,000 sf
Professional Photography by John Dean Photographer
It started with a simple idea: find a small building near home to purchase and renovate as a permanent office. But after a few failed attempts in a competitive market, the vision began to wane. Just as Megan started to lose hope, Phil expanded the search. A one-story school uniform factory built in the 1950s was not what we thought we were looking for; rather than a modest historic storefront, this was more of an ugly duckling.
The factory had been converted into an insurance office in the 1970s, and little had changed since. Dark finishes, dropped ceilings, large executive offices, and a sea of cubicles left the building dark, dated, and compartmentalized. But the building had good bones and the old Goucher neighborhood was eclectic and inviting. Walking through the brown brick façade revealed a much larger building than one might expect, larger than Present Company needed. We thought, why not open a co-working space and share the building with other entrepreneurs. After all, the only thing better than running a small business is running two! In fact, why not combine the space with Megan’s longstanding dream of opening an art and architecture bookstore to foster community engagement. After several frustrating months and false starts, everything was finally coming together.
The renovation was a reboot. We removed (nearly) everything and started fresh. In between the demo and the construction, we threw a warehouse party. We invited artists to create temporary installations. We tagged the walls. Behind the drywall, the moment marked the building as our own. When the walls were down and the ceilings removed, we saw our beautiful open space and knew we had made the right choice.
Floors were polished and skylights were cut; the addition of a glass front door connected views from front to back. Rooms were added without compromising the open feeling of the space. The heart of the building became the kitchen and conference room, connected by an overhead door. Features from both previous lives of the building can still be found intact; from the insurance vault-turned “phone booth” to the working conveyor belt in the basement. Exposed turquoise plaster and uniform sorting shelves give character to the small conference room while remnant 70s furnishings provide fun accents throughout the space.
The design is a mix of vintage-inspired materials and colors, a timeless and vibrant look that supports the resident mix of independent professionals, non-profits and small businesses. The project was very personal to us, and it reflects who we are a company.