Home for upperclassmen set to open its doors in Charles Village
After two years of demolition and construction, the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus is just days away from opening the doors to Charles Commons, the highly anticipated residential, dining and retail complex in Charles Village.
A herculean effort is under way to transform the 313,000-square-foot site -- along 33rd Street between Charles and St. Paul -- from a hard-hat zone into a home away from home for the Commons' first 618 residents. The students will move in Sunday and Monday, Sept. 3 and 4.
They'll be living in an innovative space full of high-tech conveniences like eSuds, which will ping students' inboxes when a washing machine is available in the laundry room and again when their whites are done spinning. They'll have an array of menu items to choose from at "3rd on 33rd," the aptly named third-floor dining hall. And come late October, a 29,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the ground floor will be a short elevator ride away.
The opening of Charles Commons -- two buildings connected by a bridge -- is a momentous occasion for Johns Hopkins and is about much more than its nifty perks and additional beds, said Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education. What it's really about, she said, is a first step toward guaranteeing that Homewood juniors and seniors who want university housing can get it. Up till now, the freshman and sophomore classes have filled the campus residence halls and upperclassmen have been on their own.
"I think it's an important milestone," Burger said. "We go to all this trouble to bring together this extraordinarily talented and interesting group of students and too soon give them no option but to disperse through the community. I think that's a shame and a loss not only for individual students but for the collective whole too. If you disperse the students too soon, you lose some of the educational advantage of having such a bright and interesting group of students together."
Charles Commons brings the Homewood campus across Charles Street into Charles Village, from the style of the building to the brick pavers lining the sidewalk, mirroring the pathways that crisscross the quads.
All students in Charles Commons have single rooms and the price is the same whether they are living in two- or four-person suites, all of which have common spaces and kitchenettes. Leases in the 10-story St. Paul Building, on the east side of the complex, run for nine months, and the rate is $7,892. During the summer, the building will be used for conferences. Students who prefer an 11-month lease can be accommodated in the 12-story Charles Building, on the western side of the site. The lease starts in September and ends July 31, and costs $9,647.
A lot of the social life in Charles Commons will naturally center on the dining facility and adjacent conference rooms. Other amenities include a fitness center, game room, music practice rooms, lounge areas, group study rooms and a community kitchen and patio for student use.
The bridge between the two buildings will have a security station with a guard on duty 24 hours a day. A roving guard will also be assigned to the building 16 hours each day. There are security cameras networked to the campuswide security monitoring system and intercoms at the entrances so the guard at the bridge desk can see and talk to nonresidents who request access to the building.
The big draw for the community — the Barnes & Noble Bookstore — is set to open Oct. 23, according to David McDonough, senior director of development oversight for Johns Hopkins Real Estate. With its entrance on the corner of 33rd and St. Paul streets, the two-story space will feature general retail services on the main floor — books, a coffee bar serving Starbucks coffee, magazines and Johns Hopkins paraphernalia. The second floor will be dedicated to textbooks for Homewood courses. Johns Hopkins-themed murals and notable quotes will decorate the entire store, McDonough said.
When it opens, it's likely that the bookstore will be the highlight of what Charles Commons represents to the administration — as Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Dean Adam Falk put it, "the integration of students and student life into the fabric of the Charles Village community."
"The line between the experience in the classroom and the experience on campus is a porous one; one affects the other," Falk said. "We've been working to get students to see themselves as neighbors, and they've been very responsive. We want them to see Charles Village as an extension of campus and for the residents to see Johns Hopkins as part of their neighborhood."
The project was developed by a Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse-led team called the Collegetown Development Alliance. Ayers Saint Gross was responsible for the project's master plan and the building's facade, and Design Collective designed the interiors of the student housing. Both are Baltimore architectural firms.
For information, high resolution digital photos or to arrange a tour of Charles Commons, contact Amy Lunday at 443-287-9960.
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