Overview

Charm City is a place where the history of America stands in the same place as its future. Its spaces are old buildings that have worn many, many masks as businesses came and went. But still, no matter what skin the city wears, there is no denying the legacy of its bones. This list ranks the best restaurant designers in Baltimore, who know how to work with the city’s old warehouses and its forgotten industries, and yet design sustainably for the future. Whether for a renovation or a new construction, the design minds behind these firms create eatery spaces for restaurant clients that are both new and still Baltimore.

Top Architects


Alexander Design Studio

Architects:
Charles Alexander
Phyllis Cook
Jessica Damseaux

Awards:
AIA Baltimore Honorable Mention,
AIA Maryland Merit Award,
Baltimore Heritage Adaptive Reuse and Compatible Design Award

Address:
8212 Main St, Ellicott City, MD 21043

About Alexander Design Studio

Alexander Design Studio can be most recognized as a proponent of green design. This work ethic has led to numerous clientele including the American Cancer Society, Baltimore City Public Schools, and a number of local churches. The firm’s renovation work at Mount Vernon Mill No. 1 has garnered much attention from the likes of AIA Maryland while other projects have been granted Honorable Mentions and Design Awards from AIA Baltimore. Most recently, it was given the 2020 Baltimore Heritage Preservation award and the 2019 AIA Baltimore Honorable mention for its work on Cosima at Mill No.1. Furthermore, the team has been featured in the Urbanite, Style, Chesapeake Home, the Baltimore Business Journal, and the Baltimore Sun. Currently, this firm is managed by principals Charles Alexander and Phyllis Cook. While both are AIA and LEED accredited professionals, Alexander possesses experience from his travels abroad and awards to support his expertise, Cook carries 25 years-worth of architectural experience that assists the firm in creating designs that are architecturally and sustainably sound.

Featured Projects

The firm’s first featured project is The Cosima at Mill No. 1. Covering an area of 12,000 square feet, the project included converting the boiler house of a historic cotton mill into a Sicilian restaurant that utilizes wood-fired cooking. Most of the challenge was to create an efficient restaurant while maintaining the stone foundation wall, the chimney, the remains of the coal boiler, and the adjacent river to give the space some character. Another impressive restaurant space on the team’s portfolio is the DuClaw Brewing Company building. An 8,400 square foot space costing $2 million, it is located at a free-standing building and has a final design that uses sliding planes and translucent spaces to create views that can be seen from multiple perspectives.


Architectural Design Works

Architects:
W. Paul Thompson

Awards:
Archer-Bull Award for Design and Construction Excellence,
Harford County Historic Preservation Commission Project of the Year Award,
Southern Maryland Builders Association,
Award of Excellence

Address:
22 W Allegheny Avenue, Suite 301, Towson, MD 21204

About Architectural Design Works

Architectural Design Works is an architectural and land planning firm that has been working out of Towson for the past 25 years. Every commission the firm receives starts with research and analysis to ensure a project’s maximum potential is reached. The firm’s process is driven by a focus on successful construction and risk management, which includes interviews with every individual contractor in front of the client. Previous projects include a range of markets, including commercial, residential, government, and industrial. Since its establishment, the firm has gathered various awards including the 2004 Archer-Bull Award for Design and Construction Excellence, the 2001 Project of the Year Award from the Harford County Historic Preservation Commission, and a 1994 Award of Excellence from the Southern Maryland Builders Association (SMBA).

Featured Projects

Padonia LLC hired Architectural Design work for the construction and design of the Bluestone Restaurant—a 10,000 square foot restaurant in Timonium. Located between warehouses and a light rail line to make it seem like it has been with the neighborhood for a long time, the restaurant’s design is inspired by modern architecture trends and the area’s quarry mining history. Most notably, it features a glass entry tower that bathes the space with natural light, and a Red Barn Addition reminiscent of rural Baltimore county. Another notable project in its portfolio is the Crackpot restaurant in Bel Air. Covering an area of 16,000 square feet, it has an Eastern Shore style design that houses a gourmet seafood market, crab steaming facilities, the 25-seat restaurant, a bar, and a private party room.


Brown Craig Turner Architects

Architects:
Bryce Turner

Address:
100 N Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

About Brown Craig Turner Architects

Brown Craig Turner Architects is a multi-disciplinary design firm that has served architecture and interior design clients in the retail, housing, hospitality, and corporate markets for clients in over 50 countries. This capability and experience has been recognized with a plethora of awards. Most recently, its work on the historic 37 story 10 Light office tower was awarded 2018 PACE Awards along with numerous other awards. To make amazing projects like these, Brown Craig Turner Architects has gathered a team of talented professionals and a leadership team serving as guides. The leadership team includes President and CEO Bryce Turner. An AIA Fellow, Turner is a registered architect in 20 states, and has worked in places as far as Africa and Asia. Aside from this great team, the firm also looks out for future architects by hosting an intern program for interested student designers.

Featured Projects

Ratcheting up in elegance is Brown Craig Turner Architect’s interior design work for Bond 45, an Italian restaurant in National Harbor. From the custom tiled floor to the hanging lights, the 8,000 square foot restaurant screams upscale. Following the aesthetically pleasing Bond 45 is pizzeria Fiorella, which trades fanciness for rustic charm. Painted plates make for wall decorations, and warm reds and yellows are evident throughout the brick-laden interior.


Curry Architects

Address:
606 East Joppa Rd., Towson, Maryland, 21286

About Curry Architects

Founded in 1990 by Shellie Curry, Curry Architects is an architecture firm that strives for fitting an entirely new project into an already established neighborhood while still keeping the project’s unique taste. Aside from designing an entirely new project, the firm is also known for designing plans for renovation and adaptive reuse projects.

Featured Projects

Among its eye-catching projects, its most notable one is the 4,900 square foot Nailah’s Kitchen. A vibrant addition to Baltimore’s dining scene, its contemporary interior and facade looks to educate visitors on the art, history, and culture of Senegal. Aside from this project, the firm has crafted many other structures that are unique enough to earn features from publications like Baltimore Style Magazine and the Baltimore Business Journal.


Design Collective

Architects:
Dennis Jankiewicz
Fred Marino

Awards:
AIA Maryland People’s Choice Award,
AIA Baltimore Grand Design Award,
ULI Award for Excellence

Address:
601 E Pratt Street, Suite 300, Baltimore, MD 21202

About Design Collective

Established in 1979, Design Collective has completed projects nationally and abroad. During this time, it has honed its skills in architecture, planning, and interior design to the point that it has crafted walkable communities that have been honored with several awards. Most recently, it was recognized by AIA Maryland with the People’s Choice Award for the interior design of a Cushman & Wakefield office in Baltimore. It was also awarded the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Baltimore’s Grand Design Award and the ULI’s Award for Excellence for its work on the Fitzgerald—a transit-oriented development and mixed-use apartment community in Mount Vernon. Aside from these awards, Design Collective has also been featured in several magazines including Baltimore Business Journal, the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, and Architect Magazine.

Featured Projects

Design Collective repositioned, reorganized, and renovated the 6,400 square foot Harbor Market Kitchen & Cafe at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The team’s goal was to create a space that could accommodate the daily estimated 4,000 customers. Since the existing space found it difficult to accommodate this number sustainably, the firm designed a new cafe layout, installed an open kitchen, and used recyclable and renewable materials with energy-efficient systems. The environmentally-conscious redesign included elaborate recycling and compost collection bins. The firm also installed an attractive feature wall that simulated ripples of water using blue LED lighting.


Eastwing Architects

Address:
837 W 35th St., Baltimore MD 21211

About Eastwing Architects

Doing more with less is a motto this architecture company holds firmly unto. Combining years of experience with creativity fostered by limitations, restrictions, and regulations, Eastwing Architects has a portfolio of beautiful projects for clients across Baltimore.

Featured Projects

Among these projects is Sophomore Coffee. A cozy little space set in the basement of a Baltimore building, this coffee shop carries a warm and welcoming atmosphere brewed by a palette of light colors, beautiful but subtly designed LED lights, and the utilization of natural light that flows into the space even just from a few small windows.This project was a collaboration with interior designer Ann Fortune, also an owner of Sophomore Coffee


Foundry Architects

Architects:
Matthew Compton

Awards:
AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Award,
AIA DC Merit Award,
AIA Baltimore Residential Award

Address:
2701 N. Charles Street, Suite 100, Baltimore, MD 21218

About Foundry Architects

Founded in 2011 by Matthew Compton, Foundry Architects is an architecture firm that designs functional, sustainable, and financially viable projects. So far, the firm has crafted such designs for structures in the residential, commercial, educational, and institutional markets. Whatever the project is, the overarching goal is to create spaces that invest and integrate into the community. Over time, these beautiful, award-winning projects have led to the firm’s recognition in Chesapeake Home + Living.

Featured Projects

Standing in one of the Baltimore area’s first suburban shopping districts is a historic building that was constructed in the mid-20th century. While it was used as a store for Hess Shoe, today it is a restored restaurant known as Shoo-Fly Diner, which exhibits a traditional American feel. The first floor is home to a bar while the second floor houses the restaurant for table service. The upper level also features classic, U-shaped diner counters that provide views into the open kitchen—a current trend in Baltimore restaurant design. Foundry Architects’s work at Beau Thai in Washington, DC is another project that displays the firm’s flexibility. While the previous project was pure nostalgia in its design, this Thai restaurant blends the present with the past. The structure of the restaurant is industrial—the exposed ceiling, the concrete floor—yet at the same time, faded photos of the owner’s family, taken from their homeland, adorn the walls.


Heath Design Group

Architects:
Mike McGowan
Brian D. Laug
Chung Gobell

Awards:
National Association of Industrial and Office Properties Awards

Address:
516 N Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

About Heath Design Group

Established in 1991, Heath Design Group can be most recognized for being awarded by the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties twice for its work. The firm is known for serving the corporate, healthcare, retail, and nonprofit industries. Aside from having years of industry experience, Heath Design Group also has an experienced team who are knowledgeable about building codes, ADA, life safety, and LEED requirements. The team is led by company president Mike McGowan. A Cornell University graduate, he also serves on the board of Downtown Management Authority—the city’s oldest and largest business improvement organization, and on the Downtown Partnership Foundation—which seeks to stimulate the area’s economic development.

Featured Projects

Heath Design continues the trend of Baltimore designers artfully renovating existing spaces, with Langermann’s. The award-winning restaurant specializes in South Carolina Lowcountry cuisine and enjoys views of the harbor. Before it was a restaurant, however, the space was home to a warehouse. Heath Design keeps Baltimore’s history alive by incorporating into the design the exposed ductwork, the brick walls, and the original warehouse windows. The 8,500 square foot restaurant also features an open kitchen and inviting linen-covered tables. Alongside this project are Lemongrass and Tsunami, which are two Asian-themed restaurants occupying the site of a former warehouse. Its biggest draw is the two-story Buddhist statue visible from both the Thai and Japanese halves of the building.


Patrick Sutton Interior Design

Architects:
Patrick Sutton

Awards:
AIA awards for Design,
Institute of Classical Architecture and Art John Russell Pope Award for Interior Design

Address:
1000 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

About Patrick Sutton Interior Design

A firm that has received five AIA design awards, and the John Russell Pope Award for Interior Design from the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA), Patrick Sutton is an interior design and architecture firm known for crafting designs that beautifully capture and tell client stories. When approaching the design of a restaurant, Patrick Sutton starts with the menu. His ultimate goal is to find the restaurant’s soul, the restaurant’s story, and transport guests there. In effect, Sutton creates a mental vacation for them. Whether it is a residential or hospitality project, the firm has been recognized with praise from The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Style, Curbed Washington DC, the Washington Post, Style, and many other publications.

Featured Projects

While all of the firm’s projects share the trademark luxurious elegance, these projects still embody a design that is unique to the restaurant. One of these beautiful creations is Cinghiale Restaurant. A structure that carries an old-world charm, this Italian eatery borrows the scale and energy of dining establishments in Paris and adds the intimate qualities of Tuscany. This classy and relaxed air is a great imitation to the feel of walking through the streets of Bologna or Milan. Another notable project of the firm is the Tagliata & Elk Room. Built in an old industrial building in the middle of Baltimore, this restaurant combines the feel of a ramshackle farmhouse and a chic Tuscan eatery with crumbling brick and plaster walls, wide-board floors, and billowing drapes that capture a cozy atmosphere.


Rohrer Studio

Architects:
Dianne J. Rohrer
James P. Suttner

Awards:
ASID Maryland Historic Commercial Award,
AIA Baltimore Architectural Design Award,
AIA Maryland Interior Design Award

Address:
611 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

About Rohrer Studio

Devoted to keeping its designs sustainable, Rohrer Studio is most known for having a team that is 80% LEED certified. Over the years, this firm’s work has been featured in the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Chesapeake Home, and Style Magazine for designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and consider the context of the surrounding community. Certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise in Maryland state and Baltimore City, Rohrer Studios was founded in 1999 by Dianne J. Rohrer, CID, a 25-year veteran of architectural interior design. Her projects have been recognized by the AIA, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and the International Interior Design Association. Her experience ranges from new construction, adaptive reuse, and historic renovations, the latter of which Baltimore city has in spades.

Featured Projects

A recent project for Rohrer and team was the 1157 Bar & Kitchen in Tide Point. In Baltimore, where transforming historic spaces into modern venues is the name of the game, Rohrer Studio displays its talent. Described as a cozy, go-to restaurant, the structure was an Honorable Mention for the 2016 AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Awards. One of the judges commented positively on the compact design of the restaurant, which used to be a small-scaled row house. Rohrer Studio’s work with renovated row houses continues with the Salt restaurant and tavern in Upper Fells Point. The bar’s most eye-catching features are the light fixtures hanging above the bar, which glow green over bar guests. The hip bar area contrasts the exposed brick walls of the rest of the restaurant, blending the old and the new. This design won Rohrer and team an ASID Maryland Interior Design Award.


Schamu Machowski + Patterson Architects

Architects:
Walter Schamu
Charles Patterson

Awards:
6 of Baltimore Sun’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2016

Address:
1100 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

About Schamu Machowski + Patterson Architects

SM+P Architects’s talent can be seen in the stonework of the city’s most iconic buildings. Since 1982, this firm has completed numerous complex projects for various clients like the National Institute of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Aside from this client, SM+P Architects has completed projects like the restoration of the B&O Railroad Museum and the Bromo Seltzer Tower. When it comes to restaurants, most of the projects it has crafted are included in lists of Charm City’s best places to eat. Currently, these projects are guided by the expertise of company president Walter Schamu and vice president Charles Patterson. While Schamu is known throughout the region as an expert in historic architecture, Patterson, with 20 years of experience, acts as the director of design. Walter Schamu, FAIA, has been the president of SM+P. He is known throughout the region as an expert in historic architecture and is also the founder of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation. Vice President Charles Patterson, AIA LEED AP, has been with the firm for 20 years and acts as the director of design. The Baltimore Sun’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2016 includes six of their clients, two of which are listed below.

Featured Projects

In 2016, The Baltimore Sun released a list of the 50 Best Restaurants which includes six of the firm’s clients. The Woodberry Kitchen was named No. 3 on The Baltimore Sun’s list and No. 1 on a similar list compiled by the Baltimore Business Journal. While local artisans worked on architectural details, SM+P Architects designed the interior light features and bench seats. To remind visitors of the former industrial shell space’s origins, stacks of cut lumber hover above the wine shelves. The design also features a large glass wall that separates the interior from the surrounding neighborhood outside. Alongside this project is The Alma Cocina Latina which took the 8th rank in The Baltimore Sun’s list. A restaurant that replaced an old can company building in Canton, the new space’s design allowed for more natural light to flow into the space that utilized a palette of colors. Another notable feature is the restaurant’s new corten and cypress “tunnel” which pierces the restaurant’s original brick facade.


Urban Design Group

Architects:
Mike Burton

Address:
1909 Thames St, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21231

About Urban Design Group

Sustainable design and civic responsibility are the philosophies Urban Design Group involves itself with. With an impressive work ethic and projects that contribute to additional green space and improve air quality, this firm has been recognized for being an advocate of green urbanism. Currently, the firm is handled by founder and president, Michael Burton. An affiliate of the AIA, NCARB, and LEED, Burton has over 20 years of experience in historic preservation, land-use, urban planning, commercial/retail design, and multi-family residential architecture.

Featured Projects

Turning a vacant space into a classy restaurant was a $1.2 million project awarded to Urban Design by the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Inner Harbor. The 5,500 square foot space that has become the SIP Kitchen & Wine Bar features wood and iron light fixtures reflecting the city’s industrial past. It also features wall installations that display the 72 different wines guests can self-pour. The restaurant’s opening was covered in the Baltimore City Paper and Baltimore Magazine. Alongside this project is Marie Louise Bistro in Mount Vernon, in which the former site of Gampy’s Restaurant was restored and expanded into the French-Mediterranean restaurant. Now sporting blonde wood furnishings with a pressed-tin ceiling hovering above, this beautiful restaurant was featured in the Baltimore Sun.

Credits

Photo of Cinghiale (heading photo) courtesy of Erik Kvalsvik
Photo of Pazo (featured project for Patrick Sutton Interior Design) courtesy of Patrick Sutton Interior Design
Photo of the Garden Room courtesy of Gordon Beall

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