Recreation Pier

Sagamore Pendry Hotel

2018 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement

Over $20 Million

Sagamore Development Company | Owner 

Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani, LLC | Consultant 

WT Construction Company| Contractor

After years of neglect, an icon has been reborn on Thames Street in Baltimore. The process of renovating the Recreation Pier into the Sagamore Pendry hotel and bringing a staple of the Fells Point neighborhood back to life began in 2014, when Sagamore Development purchased the property after 15 years of neglect and disuse had turned the once-iconic structure into a derelict.

Opened in 1914, the Recreation Pier and its headhouse began life as a commercial pier that has been referred to as the Ellis Island of Baltimore, facilitating the processing of new immigrants into the city. As time moved on, the facility was used as a community center, providing ballrooms for dances and a roof-top playground, a maritime radio station, a parking garage, and as a set for the television show Homicide: Life on the Street, and the movies Step It Up and Step It Up 2.

The Recreation Pier is listed as a historic building by the National Park Service, the Maryland Historic Trust (MHT), and the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, requiring extensive coordination and sensitivity of design to gain approvals from all agencies involved.

WBCM provided a complete package of structural, civil, and marine engineering services, including coordinating the design between architects and engineers, for the renovation of the historic Fells Point Recreation Pier into a three-level, 128-room luxury hotel. The hotel uses the historic head house as the lobby and bar area while additional renovations restored the ballroom and grand staircase, rehabilitated the pier, installed a pool overlooking the Inner Harbor, created additional bar and restaurant spaces, and constructed a new boat launch.

The head house required extensive work that included the restoration, replacement, or reconstruction of all brick and stonework and all wooden windows. The grand staircase was restored to its original design by removing a modern infill, and the third-floor ballroom was re-plastered and restored to its original grandeur. WBCM assessed the existing steel framework of the head house for structural integrity and elevations were surveyed to determine if reuse was feasible. The existing structural steel framing was incorporated into the hotel design where practical. The new second floor of the hotel was placed between the existing first floor and the high bay roof, and the existing high bay roof framing was modified and reused to support the hotel’s third floor. The strategic placement of new framed floors and the reuse of existing structural steel was key in meeting the requirements of the MHT.

WBCM oversaw the dive inspection of the existing bulkhead, piles, and other critical marine structures and compiled an inspection report outlining deficiencies and suggested remediation. The MHT required the existing pier to be reused and rehabilitated. In response, WBCM’s design reused the existing structurally-deficient pier as a formwork for a new pier. Holes were cut in the exiting pier, new piles were driven, and a new 24-inch deck was poured in two 12-inch lifts. The top lift of the new structural two-way slab encapsulated all the structural steel elements, including the soil anchor pockets, sheet pile walers and tie rods, and the base plater connections for the building columns. The new pier accommodates three stories of hotel rooms, an interior courtyard, an extended deck, and an integrated infinity pool.

WBCM assisted the team in establishing the pier deck and first floor elevations in accordance with FEMA and City floodplain resiliency requirements. The at-grade level of the renovated structure was raised three feet to get above the 500-year Design Flood Elevation and the exterior of the building was flood-proofed above the 500-year Flood Protection Elevation.

The result is an anchor for the Fells Point community and a stunning building that houses a world-class hotel and exciting amenities.