Originally built in 1885 as a livery stable, the building was occupied for several decades by the Lion Brothers embroidery company, with numerous additions constructed throughout the 20th century. The design team oversaw an exterior restoration to the long-abandoned structure as well as the creation of modern workspace that retains the building’s industrial character.
Misaligned floors and multiple interventions from a variety of architectural eras challenged the team to create a cohesive, efficient plan allowing for multiple tenants and uses. The interior features a new central core with an open stair, exposed brick walls and duct work, refinished concrete and wood floors, and the original sliding, steel-clad fire doors. Vibrant colors and environmental graphics enliven the tenant spaces, inspired by the terra cotta medallions along the exterior that depict embroidered patches once made in the factory.
The extensive use of glass throughout the interior creates transparency and allows for ample natural light within the office and studio spaces. The building offers a variety of workplace environments, including traditional office, open concept, and cutting-edge co-working spaces. In addition to CBH|QEA, the design team included Skarda and Associates, Inc., for structural engineering; Kovacs, Whitney & Associates, Inc., for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering; and STV for civil engineering.
Located adjacent to the University of Maryland BioPark, the Lion Brothers building now serves as home to a dynamic mix of tenants, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Intermedia and Digital Arts program; the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Graduate Research Innovation District (GRID); Enterprise Homes, Inc.; Baltimore Community Lending; Spring Garden Lending; and Neopol Savory Smokery. CBH|QEA also provided interior design for all of the tenant spaces with the exception of Enterprise Homes, Inc. and Neopol Savory Smokery.
The building offers an engaging presence along the street, with accessible parking nearby. Many of the previously boarded-up industrial steel windows were restored and upgraded to improve thermal comfort, with others replaced as needed. Exterior lighting illuminates the building at night, making the structure visible throughout the community and to drivers entering the city from the south.
The Lion Brothers renovation serves as a successful example of the use of Maryland’s historic tax credits. With several bills related to historic tax credits recently under consideration by the Maryland state legislature, architect Anath Ranon, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, testified in March that, “Without the historic tax credits, this building would have remained empty and abandoned. Its tenants would not be actively contributing to the renaissance of this neighborhood."