Snow Kreilich Architects and HGA - Arthur J. Altmeyer Federal Building in Baltimore celebrates the history of Social Security while creating a healthy high-performance workplace
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Arthur J. Altmeyer Federal Building in Baltimore celebrates the history of Social Security while creating a healthy high-performance workplace

Snow Kreilich Architects and HGA

Renovation  /  Completed
Snow Kreilich Architects and HGA

Located on Social Security’s main campus outside of Baltimore, Maryland, is the Arthur J. Altmeyer Federal Building, an original 1959 signature building on campus at the main entry. This ten-story, concrete-framed building is home to the SSA executive leadership team, houses the campus boiler plant in its lower level, and had no major alterations since its inception. Reflective of its era, the interior layout allowed minimal daylight penetration to the interiors and an occupant density of 280 GSF per person. The uninsulated envelope allowed temperature swings of 15 to 20 degrees. Tasked with a complete re-cladding, all-new mechanical systems, new stairs and elevator cores, and a complete interior overhaul; our team successfully maximized open office work areas and shifted offices to the interior core of the floor plate. The long slender footprint and almost true north orientation of the building afforded the opportunity to provide daylight and views to all occupied areas of the building, achieving a targeted 150 GSF per person design standard. The capacity of the building increased by 33% and allowed critical support segments to be located under one roof. The exterior envelope design required a rigorous energy model and close collaboration between the mechanical engineer and exterior envelope design to optimize the energy performance within the limitations of the existing campus plant and improve occupant comfort. With this approach, there was a constant feedback loop of energy modeling at a micro and macro level with the building systems and the façade design to help establish the performance requirements. Tuning the façade in relation to solar orientation resulted in the concentrated glazing on the northern façade, providing only slender glazed openings along the West, East, and South façades to minimize the solar heat gain. The life cycle cost comparison of mechanical systems supported a VAV with energy recovery system and a façade with a total of 39% glazing, finely tuned in a way that optimized solar orientation to provide optimal occupant comfort and access to daylight. This collaborative effort resulted in a 16.3% Energy Cost Savings and 21.2% Site Energy Savings. The energy modeling studied large scale and small scale moves landing on a panelized façade with ceramic fritted glass in carefully considered locations to mitigate glare. Building and Enclosure Commissioning were performed to maintain the integrity of the performance through design, construction, and post-occupancy. While three floors provide office centric workspaces, the first floor maintains the communal conference center and the remainder provide open workstations. The design paid close attention to acoustics by using laminated glass, structural slab to deck wall construction, and sound masking in open work areas. A stark departure from the central double loaded corridor of the original space, the new office layout provides a central work café on each floor with a kitchenette and break area overlooking the newly landscaped entry courtyard. A variety of interchangeable offices and small meeting rooms provided long term flexibility and collaborative spaces were significantly increased. Open workstations and offices are held off the façade to allow more equitable access to daylight through a unitized exterior façade that varies from elevation to elevation to minimize heat gain and glare on the south, east and west elevations and increase occupant comfort. The new, agile space now offers tremendous biophilic views over the SSA campus and surrounding Woodlawn area, while supporting the mission of the Social Security Administration and enhancing the wellbeing of the employees. In addition to the full modernization, the interior of the auditorium was also renovated. To provide an inviting and dignified appearance to the space, wood was chosen as the primary material. Wood configured as vertical battens provided the required acoustic performance, while aesthetically referencing the vertical expression of the exterior façade. While the ground floor lobby was reconfigured, the existing interior stone cladding was cleaned and reused, saving resources, and linking this new building with the agency’s history. The vertical expression of the new façade reinstates Arthur J. Altmeyer Federal Building as the signature building of the campus and an expression of Social Security: dutiful, restrained, and for the people. The surrounding landscape and solar orientation are used to enhance this expression and contribute to its performance as a sustainable, healthy, and comfortable workplace. The gradient frit on the glass transitions into the opaque anodized aluminum plates. These embossed aluminum plates soften the reflection of the adjacent context and light conditions modulate these reflections over time. This project is a careful balance. It celebrates the rich history of Social Security while creating a healthy high-performance workplace. It maintains the original overall form and its existing concrete structure, preventing tons of concrete from entering the waste stream. It reuses marble from the original lobby in the interior public spaces, while the plan is reconfigured in a way that promotes wellness and meets the needs of today and into the future. The innovative façade successfully transformed a building that previously performed at well below modern energy code standards to one that outperforms ASHRAE baseline values by 14.8%. Maintaining the original concrete structure significantly reduced embodied carbon within the project, allowed the existing central plant to continue to operate, and saved approximately $13 million. This project received LEED Silver Certification and salvaged more than 56% of its construction waste and diverted 3,402.26 tons of waste materials from landfills. The collaboration of architects, engineers, fabricators, contractors, and installers contributed to this refined and truly integrated design.


 Woodlawn, Maryland
 United States of America
 204838 mq
 Julie V. Snow, FAIA & Matthew Kreilich, FAIA, LEED AP - Lead Design Architects with Snow Kreilich Architects
 HGA, Snow Kreilich Architects, Studio NYL, OLIN
 Hensel Phelps: General Contractor
 Wiles Mensch Corporation: Civil Engineer, Woods Peacock (Beginning) + HGA Structural (End): Structural Engineer, HGA Mechanical: Mechanical Engineer, HGA Electrical: Electrical Engineer, Summit Fire Protection: Fire Protection Engineer, Polysonics: Acoustic / AV / Security (Building), Hinman: Blast & Site Security Consultant, Toscano Clements Taylor (TCT): Cost Estimating, Sustainable Design Consulting, LLC (SDC): LEED Consultant, WDP & Associates: Enclosure Commissioning
 Viracon: Glass, facadeTek: Curtainwall, Haworth: Raised Floor, Interface: Carpet, ISEC, Inc.: Millwork
 © Kendall McCaugherty © Hall+Merrick Photographers


Founded in 1995, Snow Kreilich Architects is a studio-based practice located in Minneapolis, MN. Our studio investigates architecture’s capacity to transform experience. Using restraint and minimal means, we pursue the inspired moments architecture can bring to everyday use. Our design process begins with thorough research to support both the pragmatic and the intangible aspirations of our clients, leading to architecture that represents our clients’ ethos and mission.

Hall+Merrick+McCaugherty is the sole copyright holder of the images. We grant permission for THE PLAN and Maggiolli SpA to publish the material relating to the PLAN AWARD or other articles promoting Snow Kreilich and HGA only. THE PLAN and Maggiolli SpA does not have the right to give images to third parties or use in promotional materials outside of the relevant award content. The following credit line must be present on all usage "© Kendall McCaugherty”.


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