The Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 10, 2001
December 10, 2001
VOL. 31, NO. 14


Montgomery Campus to Double Space

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Based on the projected growth of enrollment and county population, and partially on a "build it and they will come" philosophy, the university is planning to enter into a ground lease arrangement with a private real estate developer to construct a 130,000-square-foot facility at the Montgomery County Campus, effectively more than doubling the amount of facility space on the Rockville, Md., site.

The new building, to be available by the end of 2003, will contain classroom, laboratory and office space, and is intended to attract biotechnology and other research companies and institutes. The real estate developer, to be determined by a competitive bid process, will cover construction costs and manage the new building while the university retains ownership of the land. Under the terms of the agreement, Hopkins will reserve the right to approve the building's plans, specifications, tenants and property manager.

The announcement of a third facility for the Montgomery County Campus comes less than two years after the completion of its 49,000-square-foot Academic and Research Building, which houses seven computer labs, five biotechnology wet labs, eight neurophysiology labs, 22 "smart" classrooms, a counseling lab, a coffee house and a bookstore.

Elaine Amir, director of the Montgomery County Campus, says that she "can use the additional space today," as the Academic and Research Building filled up two years ahead of schedule.

"We just don't have much wiggle room to accommodate the need for classrooms and labs," Amir says. "Our enrollment numbers are very strong and are only projected to grow." The campus currently has 8,300 students and 350 full-time and part-time faculty. Enrollment is projected to increase 10 percent to 15 percent within the next four years.

Opened in 1988, the Montgomery Country Campus houses more than 40 part-time and full-time graduate and undergraduate programs of four divisions: the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Whiting School of Engineering, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education.

To date, 50,000 square feet of space have been reserved at the planned facility for expansion of part-time graduate and undergraduate programs. Amir says the majority of the excess space is designated for Hopkins research projects and for non-Hopkins entities that mirror the university's research mission. An example of the type of organization the campus hopes to attract, Amir says, is the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, which moved into the Academic and Research Building last year. The institute has some 30 scientists specializing in Alzheimer's research.

"Our second building doubled our facilities and added some diversity to the campus," Amir says. "The plan now is to increase the amount of research on campus."

The scheduled construction is the next phase of the 35-acre campus's build-out plan. The master plan calls for a total of six buildings, with the original facility acting as the centerpiece of a quadrangle.

Amir says the vision for growth is to integrate teaching, research and business activities at one location.

The need to expand is driven primarily by the county's growth, Amir says. Montgomery, now the most populous county in the state, has the nation's third-highest concentration of biotechnology firms and is the largest center for gene research in the world. Many of the courses offered at the university's Montgomery County site have been developed in academic disciplines that are of particular interest to the growing biotechnology and information technology industries emerging in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

"We are surrounded by the biotechnology, information technology and medical research communities here. These fields are expanding and are constantly in need of highly skilled personnel," Amir says. "Employees at companies and federal research laboratories are registering for degree and certificate programs on campus and are demanding the latest in technology. That is what we can offer."

Amir adds that each of the county's four hospitals is currently building additional space. To meet the medical community's growing needs, she says the campus is seeking to offer programs affiliated with the schools of Medicine and Nursing.

The search for a developer for the building, Amir says, is in its final stage. Earlier this year, requests for qualifications went out to 30 prominent real estate development firms from around the country. The university received 18 responses and has since narrowed the field to six firms.

David McDonough of the Johns Hopkins Real Estate Office says that the university intends to complete its search by February and that the facility will be available for occupancy by the fourth quarter of 2003.