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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 3, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 5
A New Day Dawns for Gilman Hall

Renovation will upgrade building and restore its former luster

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

A renovation project that aims to restore an iconic Homewood building to its former grandeur and bring it squarely into the 21st century is one step closer to reality.

On Sept. 19, the board of trustees' Building and Grounds Committee authorized the formation of a Design Review Committee to select an architect and construction manager for the long-anticipated renovation of Gilman Hall. Overdue for general maintenance and the replacement of many of its internal systems, the 90-year-old building is now on tap for a significant interior renovation that will upgrade existing rooms, create additional usable space for students to congregate and study, celebrate and preserve its architectural treasures, and render it more suitable for continued use as a teaching and research facility.

Design work, which includes space planning, programming and the development of a phasing plan, is anticipated to begin at the end of the calendar year.

Opened in 1915, Gilman Hall was the first major academic building constructed after the university moved from downtown to the Homewood campus. With five floors, it contains roughly 110,000 square feet of interior space and features a signature bell tower. The building's architects drew their inspiration from Homewood House and thus began the tradition, which continues today, of classically influenced academic buildings on campus.

Named for the university's first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, Gilman Hall for many years was the campus's central academic building, containing classrooms, seminar rooms, offices and libraries for all the humanities and social sciences departments. Today, Gilman Hall still houses most of the humanities departments for the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Adam Falk, interim dean of the Krieger School and a member of the project's Design Review Committee, said that the time has come to restore Gilman's somewhat faded glory and maximize its potential.

"Gilman Hall is the architectural and intellectual heart of the Krieger School," Falk said. "It is a building that ought to be worthy of the terrific work that is done within it."

The school, he said, needs additional space to adequately house the humanities departments, their students and classrooms, and the planned changes will allow an expansion of program space.

Falk said that his personal vision for the project is not to make a grand architectural statement but rather to make the building more functional and transform what it means to teach, study and work there.

Proposed modifications include recapturing underused areas and the reconfiguration of some spaces to create new seminar rooms, classrooms, offices and study areas that are on par with those in Hodson Hall, the now three-year-old Homewood academic building that features a multitude of state-of-the-art, multimedia-friendly rooms and lecture halls.

Other changes include the installation of new elevators; enhanced lighting; accessibility modifications; modernization of heating and air-conditioning systems; the replacement of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and the exterior refurbishment of windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and masonry.

Gilman's exterior will be largely untouched, as will the Albert D. Hutzler Reading Room, which contains 19 stained glass windows bearing the names and seals of 15th-century European printers, and the distinguished faculty offices that ring the building.

"This is an historical building," Falk said, "and we want to preserve all that is wonderful with it."

Various incremental renovations have been done to Gilman over time. The last, in 1985-86, was mostly superficial.

Falk said that the planned renovation will be done in phases to minimize disruption to the academic schedule. Safety improvements, installation of new core systems (elevators, restrooms, etc.) and the renovation of the majority of the ground floor to house the departments of Near Eastern Studies, Classics and History of Art, and an archaeology museum will be done first.

The ground floor currently houses two bank branches (M&T Bank and the Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union), a U.S. Post Office branch and the campus bookstore. An expanded bookstore will be the retail anchor of Charles Commons, the university-owned mixed-use complex that is scheduled for completion by summer 2006. Planning is under way for the relocation of the other retail services.

In addition, the existing Milton S. Eisenhower Library stacks located in the heart of Gilman will be removed with the resulting space used for programs.

The entire renovation is estimated to cost approximately $35 million. Gifts to fund phase 1 have already been secured, and additional fund raising is under way.

University facilities staff recently sent out a request for proposals, and once an architect and construction manager for pre-construction services are chosen, detailed programming of the spaces will begin.


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