Seeking to make a strong statement about the way its business has grown and changed, the 15-year-old architectural and urban design firm known as Columbia Design Collective is changing its name and moving from Columbia to downtown Baltimore.
Principals of the company signed a lease this month to occupy the 14th floor of 100 E. Pratt St., an office tower that overlooks the Inner Harbor.
From their drafting tables, employees will be able to see many of the projects on which they are working, including 100 HarborView Drive, the 28-story first tower of the HarborView community; the conversion of the Pier 4 Power Plant to a sports-oriented museum and entertainment complex; and a new health sciences library for the University of Maryland's Baltimore campus.
The firm also has been hired to conduct feasibility studies for the first phase of housing at Inner Harbor East, the 20-acre parcel that Gilbane Properties and Baltimore businessman John Paterakis are developing south of Little Italy.
Nationally, it is designing projects in Houston, Denver, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla.
"We're a different firm than we were five years ago, and our move is a culmination of that," said Dennis Jankiewicz, president of the firm and one of its three principals. "We feel that moving into town is going to energize our office. It's more vibrant than the suburbs."
In conjunction with the move, to take place in May, the company will drop the word "Columbia" and become Design Collective Inc.
Mr. Jankiewicz said that besides acknowledging the new location, the name change signals that the company is working on more diverse urban projects. Even some of the suburban housing it is designing, suchas the Colvista development proposed for Hunt Valley, is urban in character, he noted. "We've gone from being an architect primarily for local builders and developers to a national, interdisciplinary design firm," he said.
The company has 38 employees, including 30 design professionals. Its other principals are Richard Burns and Ed Kohls.
Construction work on the new offices began yesterday, with Whiting Turner Contracting Co. as the contractor.