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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 15, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 12
South Quadrangle Project Announced

Parking lot will be transformed into welcoming entrance to Homewood

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

The Homewood campus is about to get a new front door. The university's Buildings and Grounds Committee last week approved the schematic design for the South Quadrangle Development project, an ambitious three-part endeavor that calls for a Johns Hopkins University Visitor Center, a computational sciences building and a 600-space underground parking structure.

A new building, seen in the foreground in this rendering, will be the first stop for visitors to the Homewood campus. It faces toward Wyman Park Drive.

When completed, the project will define the main entrance to the campus from the south. Currently on the site — the portion of campus south of Garland Hall — is a visitor/staff parking lot and what was once known as Garland Field.

The university master plan, drafted in 2000, calls for three more buildings to be added to this portion of campus at a later date.

Larry Kilduff, executive director of the Office of Facilities Management, said that this will be a "truly transformational" project for the Homewood campus.

"What makes this project especially significant and unique is its position on the campus and the fact that it is creating a new south entrance," he said. "This whole project began with the idea that we needed a visitor center. The cars there now are really an eyesore at what is really the entrance to campus."

The 26,000-square-foot Visitor Center will house the Admissions Office, which is currently located in Garland Hall; an alumni board room; and an area that provides visitors information on Johns Hopkins history, current research and the Homewood undergraduate experience. There is currently no central location to welcome, assist or inform campus visitors.

Travers Nelson, program manager in Facilities Management, said, "The intention is that the university's Web site will provide directions to this location as the main entrance to campus. At the moment, there being no central reception place, we might have visitors to this campus that we never know about," he said. "We expect that having built this facility, we will learn more about who our visitors are and maybe have more visitors as well."

In the master plan, the South Quad schematic design shows the Visitor Center at 6 o'clock. Other structures are, clockwise from bottom left: a future building, Clark Hall (with a future building behind it), Garland Hall, the new computational sciences building (with Barton behind it) and a third future building.

The Visitor Center will likely borrow architectural elements from other campus buildings and feature a red brick facade, Nelson said. It will be flanked by a colonnade that will ultimately connect to two future buildings in the southwest and southeast portions of the quad, additions called for in the updated site master plan.

"Our thinking is that the Visitor Center will be a traditional building," he said. "Because it is going to be the welcoming point, we want it to represent the essential character of the campus. Whatever we do, it will be quite consistent with and interpretive of the Georgian tradition of the campus."

The computational sciences building will be located directly opposite Clark Hall. The 74,000-square-foot facility will provide space for interdisciplinary, computationally intensive science and engineering programs. It will contain primarily research space, along with a 125-seat colloquium room and several seminar rooms. Two tenants already identified are in computational life sciences and the robotics research group in the Whiting School of Engineering.

"This is very much an interdisciplinary building," Nelson said. "The expectation is it will be useful for collaborative research, including faculty from the School of Medicine and potentially the School of Arts and Sciences in addition to Engineering."

The three-level underground parking structure, positioned under the quad, will replace the existing lot south of Garland Hall and will add approximately 150 spaces to the permanent-parking capacity of the area. A set of stairs and elevators from the new garage will lead up to the Visitor Center's colonnade. The entrance to the parking structure will be off Wyman Park Drive, near the southwest gate.

The university has hired the firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott as the architects for the entire project. The Boston-based firm, one of the nation's oldest, has previously designed academic buildings for Columbia, Dartmouth and Yale, among many others.

The South Quad — formed by the Visitor Center, Garland and Clark halls, the computational sciences facility and three future buildings — will be landscaped in keeping with other Homewood open space improvements. The quad will be lined with trees and feature a long expanse of "recreational turf" that can withstand heavy foot traffic and student activities.

Upon schematic design approval, the project entered the design development phase, which is expected to conclude in early April 2005. Site construction is scheduled to begin in June 2005 with a completion and occupancy date in late 2007.

Nelson said that the early portion of construction will include several months of soil excavation in preparation for the construction of the underground parking facility.

He said that the soil dug up will be put to good use. "We have contacted parks and recreation offices in the city and county to find out if someone has a football field or something like that in their plans but don't have the dirt for it," he said. "We'll find a good home for our dirt."

During the construction phase, parking alternatives will include the new San Martin Center's parking structure and the lots at Johns Hopkins at Eastern, which are serviced by JHU shuttles.


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