The Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 18, 2002
March 18, 2002
VOL. 31, NO. 26


Homewood: On the Grow Again

Construction to begin on chemistry building and San Martin Center

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

More bricks and mortar, please. The Homewood campus construction boom continues this summer and fall with groundbreakings slated for two new major capital projects.

A chemistry research building and a facility known as the San Martin Center will become the fifth and sixth additions to Homewood since January 2001, joining the Mattin Center, student recreation center, Clark Hall and Hodson Hall.

Groundbreaking for the three-story, two-wing chemistry building is scheduled for May.

Among those eagerly awaiting the start of the new chemistry research building at Homewood are Paul Dagdigian, Chemistry chair; John Toscano, associate professor of chemistry; and Gary Ostrander, associate dean for research in the Krieger School, who championed the project.

The 44,300-square-foot facility will feature state-of-the-art laboratory space, incorporating the latest in safety features and instrumentation, and will be connected to an underground Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center. Paul Dagdigian, chair of the Chemistry Department, says the research building is a "major step forward" for chemistry at Johns Hopkins as it will offer the department flexibility and allow it to remain competitive. The new larger facility will allow for an expansion of the chemistry faculty, from 18 members to 21.

"Having additional faculty will allow us to better cover the breadth of chemistry," Dagdigian says. "But our main concern was that we have fully functioning and safe laboratories for the department."

The chemistry building will replace the department's current research-only facility, Dunning Hall.

Gary Ostrander, associate dean for research in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, says the new building is a physical extension of the school's new strategic plan, a document crafted last year, that charts the future course for the academic division.

"To be a comprehensive, first-rate university, you have to have a strong chemistry department," says Ostrander, who championed the project. "The department's existing research facility, in use by a significant portion of the faculty, is no longer adequate, and that made constructing this new building a top priority for the school."

In this drawing by its architects, the new chemistry building is in the foreground, adjacent to the new parking facility at the Johns Hopkins Club.

Dunning Hall, opened in 1965, has undergone a series of modifications in recent years to address laboratory safety concerns. Earlier this year, for example, problems with the building's air handling system resulted in several researchers having to be relocated while repairs and upgrades were made. Plans to fully modernize Dunning were considered but were thought to be cost prohibitive and would not address the department's need for growth.

Dunning Hall will remain in use throughout the construction period. The new building is expected to be completed by July 2003, at which time Dunning may be turned into swing space for offices displaced by planned Gilman Hall renovations.

The new $17 million chemistry research building/NMR Center will be located on the west side of campus near Owen House, which is scheduled for demolition in early May. Owen House is the current home of the Expository Writing Program, the Writing Center, the Center for Research on Culture and Literature, and the Program for Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality. Its occupants will move to the nearby Greenhouse.

Designed by Ballinger, a Philadelphia architectural firm, the chemistry building will have a red-brick exterior and follow a Georgian style, allowing it to blend in with existing campus structures. Its main wing will contain laboratory space for nine research groups, while the smaller wing will house computer labs, conference rooms and faculty and staff offices.

Dagdigian says the building's large, open floor plan and bright interior constitute significant improvements for those who use Dunning Hall.

"The way that Dunning is designed, the labs are relatively small, and it's not set up in a way that fosters interaction," Dagdigian says. "The new building will allow us to have more interactions between the various research groups."

The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center, which will serve faculty in the departments of Biology and Biophysics as well as Chemistry, will be located below grade to the east of the new chemistry building. Ostrander says it will be "one of the top facilities of its kind in North America."

"We will have some of the most sophisticated NMR spectrometers found anywhere," he says. Now that the Human Genome Project has reached its completion, Ostrander says, NMR facilities will be very helpful to scientists working to better understand the proteins coded for by the genome and their interactions.

John Toscano, an associate professor in the Chemistry Department, is one of the faculty who will be relocated to the new building. Toscano, whose research work involves how light is used to initiate chemical and biological reactions, says he is among a group of faculty and students counting the days to its completion.

"I would say the words are 'anxious' and 'excited,'" says Toscano, who was on the building's design and planning committee. "It is going to be a much more pleasant place to work. This is a very exciting time for the department."

In conjunction with the chemistry/NMR project, a new parking garage will be built on the north side of the Johns Hopkins Club. The two-level garage, expected to be completed by April 2003, is designed for 100 spaces.

Further west of the chemistry research building, on the opposite side of San Martin Drive, will be the new San Martin Center, to be designed by Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca Partnership of Bethesda, Md.

The center is proposed as two structures, connected by a walkway: a roughly 75,000-square-foot building that will serve as the new home for the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Embryology, and a five-level, 540-space parking garage upon which will sit a two-level structure, currently designated for office space. Carnegie's Department of Embryology, whose scientists hold joint appointments in the Department of Biology, is currently located at 115 W. University Parkway.

The San Martin Center will be constructed on the existing U-Lot. Site work is expected to begin in early fall and the facility completed in late spring 2004.

Parking Changes Related to Upcoming Construction

Construction of the new chemistry research building and NMR Center will result in the closure of C-lot, the staff parking lot adjacent to the Hopkins Club, at the end of May. The 14-space faculty lot on the north side of Mudd Hall also will also be closed at that time.

Staff parking displaced from C-lot will be accommodated on the various gated staff parking lots throughout campus.

Faculty parking displaced from the rear of Mudd Hall will be accommodated on the lot west of the north chiller plant.
   To assure the least amount of disruption to club patrons throughout the construction period, the university and Hopkins Club management have developed the following plan:

Parking for lunch and dinner guests at the club will be accommodated on the road in front of the club and on the parking lot at the Greenhouse. Additional parking will be made available to the club for planned special events and occasions. The club will be providing its members with a detailed explanation of the accommodations to be provided.

Construction of the new San Martin Center buildings and parking garage to be built on the Valley parking lot, formerly designated as U-lot, are scheduled to begin in early fall. With the closure of this 428-space parking lot, dislocated staff parkers will be accommodated on the large surface lot at the Johns Hopkins at Eastern campus, 1101 E. 33 St.

Frequently scheduled shuttle buses will provide transportation for parkers between the Homewood and Eastern campuses. An attendant will be on duty at this lot throughout the parking day. Detailed information on shuttle schedule, routes and stops will be provided.

Comments, questions and recommendations about these changes can be sent to the Director of Security, Parking and Transportation Services at