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Office of News and Information
212 Whitehead Hall / 3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2692
Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251

May 1, 1996
CONTACT: Phil Sneiderman

Renovated 'Radiation Lab' Lobby Will Honor
Julian Sinclair Smith

A dark, gloomy entryway in a building that once housed secret military research at The Johns Hopkins University has been transformed into a bright modern lobby, thanks to a gift from the family of a prominent Baltimore broadcasting executive.

The family of the late Julian Sinclair Smith, who received an electrical engineering degree from Hopkins in 1952, will join university officials at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, to name the refurbished lobby of Barton Hall in honor of Smith. The ceremony will take place on the lower quad, outside the main entrance to Barton Hall.

The building opened in 1961 as the Radiation Laboratory. Inside, Hopkins conducted classified research for the U.S. Air Force. As a result, the lobby had no windows and was set up for restricted access.

In 1962, the building was renamed in honor of Carlyle Barton, president of the university's board of trustees between 1941 and 1958. Radiation research at this site ended in 1970. Barton became the home of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and, later, the Center for Language and Speech Processing. Yet until now, its lobby remained as dark and dreary as it was during the Cold War era. The Smith family's gift allowed the installation of new doors, new lighting fixtures and warm cherry wood accents, along with transom windows to let in natural light. Fresh white paint now covers the formerly dark walls.

A portrait of Julian Smith will hang in the lobby. A new display case will let visitors view memorabilia from his career, including his 1952 Hopkins diploma, signed by Carlyle Barton.

In 1986 Smith and his family founded the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is now the seventh-largest broadcast group in the United States. The company's local holdings include WBFF-TV, Channel 45, Baltimore's Fox Network affiliate, and WNUV-TV, Channel 54. Smith died in 1993 at age 72.

Smith's widow, Carolyn, and their four sons have pledged $2 million to Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering to honor his achievements. From the gift, $1.5 million will establish a professorship in electrical engineering. The remaining funds are to be used for extensive renovations at Barton Hall; the lobby project represents the first phase of that work.

One quirky fixture from the old Radiation Lab will remain as a tribute to Ferdinand Hamburger, former chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Hamburger, who was left-handed, insisted that the main doorknobs be mounted on the left side. The revamped Barton Hall lobby will continue to have doors that cater to lefties.

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