The Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 24, 1999
May 24, 1999
VOL. 28, NO. 36


Update: Homewood Arts Center

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

When Craig Hankin looks at the large plot of dirt that faces the 3200 block of Charles Street, he sees the future--and he's loving it. From that clearing will rise, in a little more than a year, the student arts center.

"We're being patient, but the arts center can't be built quickly enough for us," says Hankin, the director of the Homewood Art Workshops, which will be housed in the 53,000-square-foot center. With three distinctive wings and an enclosed courtyard, the center will include arts studios, a black box theater, the Film and Digital Media Center, a dark room, rehearsal halls, music instrument storage, practice rooms, spaces for various undergraduate groups, a student publication production room and a cafe.

The three-winged arts center, designed by Tod Williams, Billie Tsien and Associates, will nestle into a wooded grading along Charles Street. More than 100 new trees will be planted, along with thousands of shrubs, ground coverings and bulbs.

A sheltered plaza between the wings will incorporate terraces and stairways, while the perimeter of the building will blend into the wooded landscape.

Having to clear the site was a difficult decision for staff and students involved in planning the future home of student arts groups, so conditions were established to preserve as many existing trees as possible and to create an environment that echoed the serenity of the woods formerly on that spot.

Among the most appealing aspects of the plan by Tod Williams, Billie Tsien and Associates was that it was designed to be nestled into a wooded grading rather than be set on top of the ground. The design incorporates four existing large American beech trees, and two large black cherries cleared from the site will be used as part of the interior.

The budget for the project includes nearly $200,000 for tree preservation and landscape design. More than 100 new trees--a mixture of tall, mature trees and young saplings--will be planted on the site. Among the species selected by Mahan Rykiel Associates of Baltimore are serviceberries, eastern redbuds, European beech, Patmore green ash, myrtle, black tupelo and northern red oak. In addition, Homewood's new "front door" will be enhanced with thousands of shrubs, ground coverings and bulbs.

The Baltimore City-owned monument to local merchant and financier Johns Hopkins is boarded up to protect it from possible damage during construction, but the project calls for the university to refurbish the statue as the centerpiece of a brick-lined garden.

After a summer of foundation work, the building's exterior will take shape throughout the fall. Interior work and landscaping will continue until early in the fall 2000 semester, when it is expected that students will be able to dedicate the space.
--Steve Libowitz