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A New Home for CRS

Exterior of CRS World Headquarters
The exterior of the new CRS World Headquarters in Baltimore. The building was once the home of the Stewart & Co. department store. Photo by Peter Kaizer/CRS.

Catholic Relief Services has a new World Headquarters building! At least, it’s new to us.

CRS moved this week into the Stewart’s building, a former grand department store built in 1899 in what was once Baltimore’s premier shopping district. City leaders are hoping the CRS World Headquarters will be a key piece of a renaissance that is blossoming in Baltimore’s Westside. The office opening was featured in a front-page story in The Baltimore Sun.

CRS Fayette Building
The former CRS World Headquarters Building on Fayette St. in Baltimore. The building once housed a straw hat factory. Photo by Peter Kaizer/CRS.

Last week, the CRS staff held a short ceremony to say farewell to the building we’ve occupied since we moved to Baltimore from New York in 1989, but have outgrown. Staff members shared stories, some laughs and a few tears.

Over the weekend, a dedicated crew of CRS employees and the workers of Maryland Office Relocators performed a minor miracle by moving the files, supplies and computers of more than 300 CRS staff and making sure everything was in place and working by Tuesday morning. That included assembling computer setups, connecting them to a new server and installing a new phone system.

The new CRS World Headquarters, located at 228 W. Lexington St., will house approximately 345 CRS staff and will enable us to welcome back 28 staff who worked out of a nearby annex due to space limitations.

On Tuesday morning, as the CRS staff arrived to search for their new work stations, they were greeted by the baroque strains of the CRS Trombone Trio echoing off the stone wall of the three-story atrium at the center of the building. The open environment brings light into the building and will facilitate communication between departments on different floors. The layout, with fewer offices and walled workspaces, desks clustered into “neighborhoods” and corner meeting areas for informal conversation, is designed to encourage collaboration. The new HQ also features a “situation room” with the latest technology that will enhance our ability to communicate with staff in the field and to respond to emergencies like the Indian Ocean tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake.

Business will continue as usual in our new surroundings as we carry out our mission to serve the poorest of the poor — but with greater efficiency and efficacy. A formal dedication is planned for September and a blessing for November, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets in Baltimore.

Atrium of CRS World Headquarters
The atrium inside of CRS World Headquarters stretches from the third floor to the sixth floor. It will give our staff a sense of cohesion and will encourage conversation and interaction among departments on different floors. Photo by Peter Kaizer/CRS.

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3 Responses to “A New Home for CRS”

  1. Godlove Ntaw Says:

    Though at a distance, I’ve been following the events at CRS with great admiration and nolstagia and look forward to return to the cRS family in the near future. There is no place like home and I will love to be there either in September or November for the grand opening and blessing of our new office space.

    Godlove Ntaw

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