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The Best Retail Architects in Baltimore, Maryland

22 Min Read


Baltimore has a long history of trade and commerce that began three centuries ago. Aside from linking with the country’s first-ever commercial railroad, the city also once dominated the East Coast as a shipping and manufacturing hub. Home to one of the busiest shipping ports in the US today, it remains Maryland’s center for a wide variety of industries, especially in the commercial sector. The city’s decades of economic growth continue to shape and reshape its urban landscapes and some of the most in-demand professionals that play a significant role in its transformation are architects and interior designers that have responded to the ever-evolving needs of businesses and corporations that established their roots in the city. This article features the best retail architects in Baltimore. Aside from looking at the awards, publications, and annual industry rankings, the firms included here were qualified based on the number and quality of projects that they completed in the area. The companies here are either based in Baltimore or have done multiple architectural and interior design projects in the city. The list also looked at the background of its principal, the firm’s years of practice, and its overall performance and collaborations with the industry’s leading professionals. Most importantly, the article included firms that have, in one way or another, contributed to the city’s ever-evolving architectural landscape through enduring and unforgettable spaces for the commercial sector.

Top Architects

Ammon Heisler Sachs Architects

300 West Pratt St. Suite 275, Baltimore, MD 21201

About Ammon Heisler Sachs Architects

Taking on each architecture, planning, and interior design project with a deep understanding of its client base, Ammon Heisler Sachs Architects is a customer-centric firm that has completed numerous works for the banking, corporate, industrial, hospitality, education, healthcare, and retail industries. Each of these projects was completed to embody the brand and standards of its users while using design to enhance performance and provide a modern environment for working, healing, learning, and living. The firm is led by three principal architects, David Ammon, Joseph Heisler III, and Harold Sachs, all of whom hold memberships with the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Additionally, they are all LEED-Accredited Professionals (LEED-AP), a title that is given by the US Green Building Council to professionals who have the training and expertise to produce sustainable, energy-efficient architectures. Under their leadership, the firm has helped shape Baltimore’s commercial architectural landscape. One of its loyal clients is Race Pace Bicycles, one of the pillars of the region’s cycling community. The company commissioned the firm to complete several locations across the region: Key Highway, Charles Village, Bethany Lane, and Westminster. The results are highly functional, modern spaces that feature a large, well-lit, and engaging space where locals can feel right at home. The open floor plan allows the client to display its products, assist its customers, and provide a vibrant space for people who share the same interests.

Architectural Design Works

22 West Allegheny Ave. Suite #301, Towson, MD 21204

About Architectural Design Works

Since Architectural Design Works’s (ADW) inception in 1995, it has faced and overcome challenges that continue to influence the firm’s current architectural practice. Fusing its past experiences and today’s state-of-the-art technology, it has developed and honed its methods to cater to a complex, multi-faceted, and diverse clientele. Offices, restaurants, banks, religious centers, government offices, industrial structures, and commercial spaces dominate the firm’s portfolio, some of which are Archer-Bull award recipients and nominees. Still others have won SMC Home Builders Association of MD recognition. As a retail architect, the company implements an approach that centers on the needs of the client and the actual market base to create a space that satisfies their functional and aesthetic needs. One of the firm’s retail projects is for Utopia Women’s Fashions, a 3,000-square-foot commercial space designed to provide an upscale shopping experience for the city’s most sophisticated clientele. The store also was a more practical alternative to fashion aficionados: they no longer have to travel to nearby cities for quality designs. Among the long list of architects interviewed by the client, ADW was chosen because of its “experience” approach to design, and its reputation as one of the firms that have established long-term relationships with many local businesses. Applying the firm’s “experience” approach to architecture, the Architectural Design team started the project with intensive research and market interviews with patrons and high-end fashion figures in the community. Coupled with the firm’s experience as a designer and creative professional, it conceptualized a classic yet trendsetting haven that strategically sits next to a high-end men’s clothier and a custom jewelry store. The store’s interior features a pavilion that welcomes customers to the world of high-end fashion clothing. Elements of wood for its cabinetry and flooring provides a warm, sophisticated appeal. That appeal is complemented by silk flower arrangements and a neutral palette—a design choice that allowed the store to highlight its main products. Sitting areas for guests can be found throughout the store’s spaces.


901 South Bond St., Baltimore, MD 21231

About CallisonRTKL

With locations scattered across the world, CallisonRTKL is a global architecture and design firm headquartered in Baltimore. The company has served a wide continuum of markets working with high-value clientele throughout different regions, including Australia, China, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, North America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. The firm’s decades of experience in architecture are defined by the legacy of two notable design practices that came together to deliver architectures that enhance people’s lives and “make the world a better place.” As an architect and designer for the commercial sector, the firm has worked with mid-range and luxury retail giants to complete spaces that represent the qualities and characteristics of their brands. The result is a portfolio that continues to set the standards in design and is filled with award winners. One of its recent milestones is its recent win in the 2020 Shop! Design Awards. The firm’s projects for Nordstrom, Fido, 7-Eleven, and böhme, have all won the competition’s Gold awards. Similar projects for the market conceptualized with the same level of quality and thoughtful design can be found in its extensive gallery. Many of these projects are from repeat clientele, with commissions that cover multiple U.S. locations. The firm’s partnership with Cole Haan Brands is a perfect example. Since 2001, the firm has completed interior architecture and design projects for Cole Haan’s several retail stores. Working with the client’s in-house team, the company focused on revitalizing the brand’s prototype and transforming it into a more cost-effective design while enhancing how the spaces represent the client’s brand. The results are outlet store spaces that represent the client’s identity while catering to the emerging needs of its new customers.

Curry Architects

606 East Joppa Road Towson, MD 21286

About Curry Architects

Since its inception in 1990, Curry Architects has developed an architectural practice that focuses on enhancing the built environment and improving the lives of its users. The rich Curry portfolio is all about new construction, renovation, and adaptive reuse. Led by founding principal architect Shellie Curry, a member of the AIA, the firm has worked on pioneering designs and industries to create unforgettable spaces throughout the region. These projects continue to serve a wide range of markets, including government, residential, education, athletic, medical, cultural, commercial, and civic. One of the firm’s most interesting works is for a medical marijuana dispensary in Baltimore. The company recently partnered with Culta, a seed-to-sale company in Baltimore that offers cannabis and cannabis-related products. The project is one of the first medical marijuana startups in the region. It was also one of the firm’s most distinct commissions—an opportunity to design the space according to the venture’s unique brand. The space, built during the golden age of the region’s shipping industry, lived as an industrial warehouse that was repurposed for a local bank. The company then led the interior redesign and the selection of its interior and exterior furnishings. The choice of the contrasting black and white palette exudes the client’s bold brand. Geometrical elements repeated throughout the space are a charming reference to the brand’s logo. The open floor plan introduced a polished, modern retail space that is open and inviting. The overall modern industrial style of the interiors with dominant wood and steel elements, diffused lighting, exposed beams, and sleek lines, attract a hip, sophisticated market. The firm also nodded to artistry and craftsmanship by sourcing local furniture. An added touch is the store’s Walnut casework, designed by the firm and produced Goodwood Design.

Foundry Architects

2701 N Charles St. Suite #100, Baltimore, MD 21218

About Foundry Architects

Foundry Architects is an architecture firm that focuses on delivering a space that “invests and integrates deeply in its community.” True to this advocacy, the company has completed residential and commercial projects that champion sustainable, LEED-accredited, and socially-interactive architectures that have changed people’s lives and enhanced the way they live. Under the leadership of Matthew Compton, the company has partnered with established brands to realize these visions. One example is its partnership with one of the oldest and most established, local commercial figures in the US. The company completed the second location for a notable local establishment, the Wagshal’s Market in Washington, D.C. Wagshal’s has been an important commercial site for the upper Northwestern region. The company has been in the business for over 90 years and the firm was tasked with the responsibility of designing a second store that carries the legacy of its pioneer location while incorporating modern elements to both the design and functionality of the store. The result is a new Wagshal’s store produced through the firm’s reinvention of the original’s old market charm. Some of the highlights of this project are state-of-the-art glass meat and deli cases. Custom designed and shaped to encourage engagement and maximum product viewing, these cases are the main star of the space’s interior. Suspended scales, adjustable LED lighting, and a porcelain tile ceiling provide a modern look that embodies the client’s venture into a more contemporary image as a brand that is ready to face the newer challenges of a more modern market place.

GWWO Architects

800 Wyman Park Dr. Suite #300, Baltimore, MD 21211

About GWWO Architects

GWWO Architects is guided by a design philosophy that produces responsible architectures that “enrich the human experience.” To do reach this goal the firm focuses on “inspirational, evocative, and progressive” designs. You can see the results in its award-winning portfolio with projects that have been recognized by AIA and have constantly featured by leading publications, including the Building Design+Construction Magazine and Engineering News-Record (ENR). Its projects in the academic sector are some of its most celebrated designs. The firm’s work for the University of Maryland in Baltimore is an especially striking example. For UMB Book Store, in collaboration with the store operator Barnes & Noble, the firm completed full design services, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and construction administration services to complete a retail space that takes advantage of its location along a key campus circulation path where students gather and where the main traffic in the campus takes place. The new bookstore’s design perfectly integrates it with the building’s main floor. Its wide entryway welcomes visitors and students and visually connects the space with the main student lobby. Displaying a wide range of university merchandise—apparel and related items—the client opted for a floor-to-ceiling glass wall and storefront to achieve the result of visibility and connection to the building’s main space. Included in the design and build of the project is an office, a stock room, a meeting room, a new staircase and elevator, and functional access to the building’s loading dock area.

Heath Design Group

516 N Charles St. Suite #500 Baltimore, MD 21201

About Heath Design Group

Specializing in commercial architecture and interior design, Heath Design Group showcases an award-winning portfolio of clients that have long dominated the country’s commercial industry. Its unforgettable architecture and comprehensive design solutions have been highlighted by renowned industry publications: the Baltimore Business Journal named it a top interior design firm. In 2014, the National Association for Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) awarded the company with three Awards of Excellence recognition.The company’s reputation for quality and consistency is represented by the repeat business and loyal clients that it has secured since its founding in 1991. The firm worked with Total Wine & More, a large, family-owned, and multi-awarded retail giant that maintains over 200 locations across the US. Commissioned to design several branches around the country, the firm also led one of these projects that can be found in Maryland. When the wine, beer, and liquor store relocated into an existing retail space, the firm was commissioned to create a design around a more spacious, visible floor. The new location is also expected to allow the company to double its size and operations, as well as include some interesting, customer-focused features. These include a tasting bar equipped with a distillery area, a gift collection area, and a classroom. The result is a space that provides the company’s main products and includes thoughtful spaces where patrons and customers can interact and share the fun experience of enjoying wine.

JP2 Architects

2811 Dillon St., Baltimore, MD 21224

About JP2 Architects

In 2006, Jamie Pett, John Hutch and Gordon Godat established JP2 Architects in Baltimore’s Canton Square. After working together for years with several huge firms in the region, they decided to start their own practice. Today, the firm delivers architecture and interior design projects for a range of clients, from prominent REITS, to local restaurateurs. These services cover initial planning, design development, construction documentation, and construction administration. Using an approach that offers unique solutions appropriate to the project and the suitable application of systems, materials, and technology, the company has completed retail, mixed-use, hospitality, multi-family residential, commercial offices, among others, across the region. Some of these projects earned numerous awards for design excellence sustainability. One of the firm’s biggest retail projects was for Kenilworth, an institution and a landmark in the community. The mall is known for its eclectic mix of local and national retailers, restaurants, and staged events. Since its compact size and easy shopability are a big part of its allure, the goal of the renovation was to enhance and modernize the project without losing the character that makes the mall so beloved. When a tenant elected to downsize, it provided an opportunity to change the appearance of the south end of the mall and to bring in new retail offerings. The facades of these tenants and the new mall entry feature a strong presence of contemporary forms, colors, and materials. From its old and dated interiors, the new space now highlights contemporary upgrades. For its exteriors, new entrance structures were added at the east and west sides. These borrowed the forms and materials from the upgraded project frontage. Also included in the work was a new landscaped courtyard on the west side of the project with two new restaurant buildings that took the architectural vocabulary established in the prior phases. In addition, JP2 designed and documented the interior fit-out for the tenants, Filipe’s – a Mexican restaurant and the locally owned Kenilworth Gourmet. The firm also produced a wayfinding signage package, project signage for the building visible from I-695, and a pylon sign at the entrance from Kenilworth Drive. All these changes achieved the goal of retaining the character and appeal of the original mall but with a fresh new look and a wider variety of shopping and dining opportunities.

K2M Design

180 West Ostend St. Suite #217, Baltimore, MD 21230

About K2M Design

Over its two decades of operations led by its president Scott Maloney, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, K2M Design has built enduring relationships with clients, partnerships that have delivered architecture, engineering, interior design, and multi-discipline facility assessment projects to the region’s diverse sectors. Some of its biggest markets include residential, education, commercial, government, hospitality, senior living, corrections, and retail. The firm has provided high-concept renovations and concept roll-outs for several local and national brands including Levi’s, Liz Claiborne, Joe Fresh, BigFoot, and Intimate/Home Ancillary. The firm served as the project’s brand architect to provide a modern commercial facility that captures each of the brand’s culture and target demographics. Awarded by Weatherhead 100 as one of the region’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2019 and recognized by Northcoast 99 as one of the Best Places to Work, the firm attributes its recent success to its highly collaborative environment and dynamic company culture. The firm applies a “Power of 2” design practice, a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of taking care of its people, the same people who take on every client and work on projects with the utmost care and commitment.

Penza Bailey Architects

401 Woodbourne Ave., Baltimore, MD 21212

About Penza Bailey Architects

Established in 1981, Penza Bailey Architects is an award-winning Baltimore firm that specializes in interior architecture, architecture design, and planning services. One of its most recent recognition was given by the Baltimore Business Journal when it awarded the firm as one the 2020 Largest Architectural Firms in Greater Baltimore. Home & Design Magazine, on the other hand, included principal architect Jeff Penza among its Portfolio of 100 Top Designers. These commendations and milestones highlight the firm’s unique approach to its design practice. Sustainable, universally accessible, financially viable, and contextually appropriate designs define the company’s contribution to the region’s established and growing industries. Private and public companies are both on its client list, and the firm completes projects for custom residential, institutional, and commercial architectures. For the retail sector, the firm has completed high-scale and high-value design projects, some of which allowed the company to deploy its expertise to take on a wide range of challenges. One example is a full interior and building renovation design for a high-end brand. The company was in charge of the comprehensive redesign and renovation of the entire Alex Cooper Auctioneers auction house building. The project involved adding a wall space dedicated to artwork. The design also introduced a secure jewelry display case while removing several display cases. As part of its master planning, many improvements were made for the store’s exterior such as improvement on the façade, new signs, and a re-cladding of the north wall.

Ratcliffe Architects

10404 Stevenson Rd., Stevenson, MD 21153

About Penza Bailey Architects

Focusing on client customization to cater to high-end residential and private commercial markets, Ratcliffe Architects has been in the industry for twenty years and has established a following based on referrals and repeat businesses. Ten architectural professionals, led by principal, AIA member and NCARB-certified architect Peter Ratcliffe, work together to offer architectural and drafting services to the greater Baltimore area. The company is known for its nod to functional, aesthetically-pleasing designs. One of the firm’s works that represent these characteristics is an elegant flower store that was transformed to meet the sophistication, quality, and productivity of high-end retail. The project, measuring 6,400 square feet, includes a primary store space and expands to a back end and production facility. The highlight of its interiors is a French limestone fireplace that backdrops a welcoming seating area. The store’s retail area offers a vintage elegance of custom casework and dominant wood elements that add allure and warmth to the space. Its antique walnut flooring complements the charming aesthetics of distressed faux-finished wood trim. The choice of natural materials continues to the production area where you can find exposed Timber trusses, a vaulted ceiling, and a ridge skylight that permits a flow of natural light into the work area. Reclaimed barn wood has been repurposed as production tables. Flowers are preserved and displayed inside a glass-fronted, walk-in cooler—a design choice that provides a functional and stylish solution to protect the enterprise’s primary product.

Rohrer Studio

611 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201

About Rohrer Studio

Sustainable, transformative, and holistic spaces make up the Rohrer Studio’s portfolio of architecture and interior design. The firm’s twenty years of architectural practice—led by founding principles Dianne Rohrer and Jim Suttner—is guided by a philosophy that focuses on the human scale experience. The results are award-winning works that meet its client’s creative needs while ensuring that every project meets the project owner’s budget and timeline. One of the firm’s notable works is an architectural tenant fit-out project. This work represents its ability to deliver sustainable, environmentally-friendly spaces for the commercial retail sector. It also highlights how the company can adhere to the unique needs of its clients and how the design should represent the project owner’s brand. To address the client’s need for a “green” space, the company carefully selected its materials. From reclaimed wood, the firm built a 33-foot living wall complete with vertical plantings, complemented by a neutral color palette to complete the warm and relaxing atmosphere. Custom shelf units and display cases blend perfectly with the interior’s overall theme, highlighting the store’s main merchandise. This unique, eco-friendly space caught the attention of architecture and interior design organizations, awarding the project with the AIA Maryland and AIA Baltimore Chapter Awards, and the ASID Maryland Chapter Award as well.

RSP Architects

3700 O’Donnell St. Suite #200, Baltimore, MD 21224

About RSP Architects

RSP Architects marks over four decades of architectural practice that has delivered design, planning, and management services to a wide continuum of markets, from Fortune 500 firms to emerging start-ups, not just in the US but around the world. The company is headquartered in Minneapolis and extends its services to other regions, including Baltimore. Its work as an architect and designer for the retail sector are some of its most recognized projects. As retail experts that have over forty years of experience, the firm has designed commercial spaces where “consumers are engaged and have a choice.” Its most recent recognition for its contributions to the sector includes the 2020 Top Retail Design Firm awards by VMSD and the 2019 Top 125 Retail Architecture Firms ranking from Building Design+Construction. The firm also won the 2018 Development Process STARR Award, given by the Minnesota Shopping Center Association. The company has worked with some of the biggest brands in the commercial retail industry. One of its most loyal clients is Target Corporation, America’s eighth-largest retailer. The firm’s partnership with the “iconic bulls-eye” company goes back to 1979. Today, the collaboration brings in hundreds of projects for new store construction design, renovation, and remodeling. To date, the company has produced more than 1,000 projects for the retail giant.

SM+P Architects

1100 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201

About SM+P Architects

Since its inception in 1982 as an architect that specializes in residential design, SM+P Architects has grown to cater to a more comprehensive architecture and interior designs for a wide range of industries, delivering thoughtful and functional spaces for clients from the education, hospitality, healthcare, entertainment, residential, and commercial sectors. Walter Schamu, an AIA Fellow and the president and founding architect of the firm, is a respected figure in the region and one of the pioneers that founded the Baltimore Architecture Foundation. Schamu’s expertise and leadership have helped the firm combine its background in traditional, timeless architectures with the modern and contemporary aesthetics that adhere to the growing and evolving needs of the markets. Some of its most recent projects that showcase these characteristics are for the commercial industry. Peepers, a family-owned, fourth-generation optometry clinic and spectacle retail company that operates throughout the US and Canada, commissioned the firm to design its new Severna Park location. The owners wanted a clean, minimalist aesthetic for their new store, a 7,800-square foot of space that will accommodate an optometry clinic and laboratory, as well as a central location for its reading glasses and sunglasses showroom. The resulting design presents a touch of sleek, modern interiors that highlight the natural beauty of wood and custom-made furniture and display cases. The showroom’s primary head-turner is a beautifully arranged central “carpet”, a charming herringbone wood flooring that matches well with its custom-wood low tables and wood-clad millwork shelving walls. Additional shelving units categorize the frames according to their price scales and separates frames for the children’s section. Behind the showroom is the optometry lab, designed to be comfortable and welcoming.

Swanson Design

1100 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201

About Swanson Design

Brian Swanson, the firm’s president and creative director, has led Swanson Design for over 30 years. Swanson’s vast experience comes from working and collaborating with a wide range of industries, traveling the US, the UK, Canada, and South Africa for years to practice architecture and establish a design firm that represents internationally-recognized design standards, especially for its work in the retail sector. Some of Swanson’s most notable projects include the luxury stores of Las Vegas’s Wynn Encore. He also led the design team for the US Naval Academy Visitor Center Gift Store. For the corporate office and residential sectors, known fashion icon Tyra Banks commissioned the firm to design Banks’s corporate offices and residence in New York. In Baltimore, the company has worked with Sunnyfields Cabinetry, a home center and a local household name that provides high-end kitchen and bath design solutions. The project for Sunnyfields’s commercial space exudes classic luxury and modern elegance, thanks to its minimalist design that highlights sleek lines and clean, warmly-lit spaces. The exterior gives a full view of the modern-industrial inspired interiors through floor-to-ceiling glass walls and black trims. Inside are display cases that delicately showcase the store’s main products. Its showroom—adorned with wooden elements and glass and steel fixtures—complete its vintage and classy vibe.


  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at Baltimore Architect with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at Home Builder Digest, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights.  Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson  Education: Arizona State University, Bachelors in Business Administration