The grand opening of Chesapeake Contracting Group’s (CCG) new offices in late June revealed freshly renovated, light-filled space that mingles bold colors with natural elements and high-tech systems with a casual work vibe. But for at least one CCG employee, the biggest selling point for the company’s new Owings Mills headquarters was the fireplace in the lounge.
When a company committee solicited input from employees on what they would like in the new space, “one young woman said to me that she was always cold and it would be great to have a fireplace in the lounge, so we put a fireplace in the lounge,” said Frank Settleman, President of Chesapeake Contracting Group.
CCG’s move to new offices was spurred by the most practical and mundane reasons. After 30 years of being headquartered in Reisterstown and watching the company’s offices spread across four floors of two separate buildings, leaders of the construction company realized they had simply run out of room and needed a single, modern facility to support the firm’s ongoing growth.
But in the midst of a pandemic, a recession and a profound shift in American work culture, the routine act of leasing new office space took on added considerations and ultimately embodied some major trends in the office market.
The firm started planning a move in January 2020. When the pandemic hit Maryland months later, CCG leadership kept on planning because “we made a conscious decision that we were not only going to survive a pandemic, but thrive through one,” Settleman said.
In August 2020, the company signed a lease at Merritt Properties’ 10065 Red Run Boulevard building and began working with Design Collective, a long-time project partner, to renovate the space.
“By the time we started talking to the design team, we felt that people had gotten used to working at home so we should create workspace that looks and feels like home,” Settleman said.
The team decided on a clean, contemporary design with some eclectic touches. The 20,000-square-foot office, which is nearly 8,000 square feet larger than CCG’s Reisterstown offices, includes individual offices, workstations, multiple meeting rooms and large, open spaces. Pops of brightly colored furniture and walls mix with natural wood features, stone walls, a plant wall and large windows.
“The greatest compliment that I have gotten about the space so far was when I was sitting in the lounge/pantry area one day. One of our people walked in and said he felt like he was walking into his own kitchen at home,” Settleman said.
CCG equipped every office and workstation with sit-stand desks, opted for larger-than-average eight-foot-by-eight-foot workstations, and added glass panels to the tops of each workstation partition so that employees could feel safely separated but see across the office whenever they stood up.
CCG, which prides itself on being a technologically advanced builder, also “designed all the offices and workstations so that you have a work wall where your technology goes. Most of our people are hooked up to two or three screens at a time,” Settleman said. But the layouts ensure that “when somebody walks into your office, you have to turn away from the technology to look toward the person. You are not looking over the top of screens when you interact with other people.”
CCG, he added, also carefully selected the location of its new office to address one other employee consideration. “We wanted to make sure we were closer to amenities so our associates would have time to run out and do whatever they needed to do, have more options for lunch and be able to go to the gym.”
Located at the southeast end of Red Run, CCG’s new offices are less than a mile from Foundry Row (which CCG built), Metro Centre at Owings Mills and Mill Station.