When the new Homewood master plan was completed in 2000, it was expected to guide growth on the campus for decades to come.
That's still true. But some decades just feel like they go faster than others.
Far more quickly than anyone imagined just two years ago, Homewood has grown and changed.
The Mattin Center and O'Connor Center, two long-planned student services buildings, have been completed. So have two more recently conceived academic buildings, Clark and Hodson halls. A new chemistry building, NMR research facility and parking deck are coming up out of the ground near the western entrance to campus. And over the past three summers, the grounds have been transformed. What once was a hodgepodge of busy roads and ragged asphalt sidewalks is now a safer, more serene and attractive campus laced with brick and marble paths. Wayfinding signs and kiosks are being installed. New trees and shrubs line the quads, with more to come next planting season in the newly rebuilt area between Garland, Levering and Gilman.
The changes have come fast and furious. One reason, simply enough, has been the need to grow.
"Our construction program--both over the past few years and for the foreseeable future--has been driven largely by the needs of the faculty and students," said James T. McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration. "The faculty needs the most modern research space and space to launch new scholarly initiatives. The student body needs the best residentia, recreational and co-curricular space we can provide. They both need the kind of high-tech classrooms that Hodson Hall provides. And growth in all those areas has implications for administrative and support services, for parking and for traffic and pedestrian circulation."
Why else has construction moved faster than the expected pace? Opportunity has come knocking. For instance, the Hodson Trust was looking for a building to house its archives. The result: Hodson Hall. The Whitaker Foundation and trustee emeritus James Clark both had strong interests in the university's biomedical engineering programs. The result: Clark Hall. A donor, who declined to be identified, was taken with the master plan's vision of a campus consistent with the university's world-class stature. The result: the open space projects of the past three summers.
As needs and opportunities continue to intersect, the pace of construction at Homewood will continue to be fast and furious. The result, says McGill, will be "as much progress in a short time as on any campus of Homewood's size anywhere in America." Here's a summary of projects planned or contemplated over the next few years.
This project began over the summer and is scheduled for completion next August. The three-story, 56,000-square-foot chemistry building west of Mudd Hall will house research labs and offices; it will permit expansion of the Chemistry Department's faculty and a move into important new research areas. A nuclear magnetic resonance imaging facility will be underground, east of the new building. The 104-space parking deck to the west will serve both the university and the Johns Hopkins Club.
Over the years, it has never been easy to find your way around Homewood unless you already knew your way around. Recent and planned construction has only aggravated the problem. But relief is at hand. Contractors are at work now installing a complete new wayfinding system. When it is finished, there will be "trailblazing" signs on the streets around campus, directing visitors to parking. There will be consistent building identification signs and signs denoting handicapped-accessible entrances. The most remarkable part of the system will be a campuswide network of computerized kiosks that will provide visitors with text and visual directions from wherever they stand to any building on campus. The terminals will also provide information on the location of departments, offices and services, as well as the daily schedule of campus events. More information on this first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art system will be announced in The Gazette in coming weeks.
San Martin Center
Construction begins in January on this three-part project. One 80,000-square-foot building will be a new home for the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Homewood-based Embryology Department, a close collaborator of the university's Biology Department. A companion building will house a five-level, 510-space parking garage topped by two levels of office space. The site, on what now is the valley parking lot below San Martin Drive, will wind up with far more trees and green space than currently exist there. A gentler grade down from street level through the complex will provide recreational users better access to the Stoney Run stream valley. A pedestrian bridge over San Martin Drive will make the crossing easier and safer for commuters who use the garage and work uphill on the main campus grounds. The design of this project has been adapted to accommodate the concerns of residents in the neighborhood across Stoney Run.
The ramshackle, underutilized tunnel underneath Gilman Hall is about to become a major pedestrian link and one of the most attractive, interesting and well-used spaces on campus. The tunnel was long used for storage and recently reopened for deliveries. When renovated, it will represent a major improvement in pedestrian movement between the southern end of campus, near Levering, and the northern end, including Decker Garden, the Johns Hopkins Club and beyond.
Starting in December, crews will move in to relocate existing utility pipes and ducts and upgrade rag-tag interior surfaces. They'll install a vaulted white ceiling, brick, granite and cast-stone walls and floors, and large, nearly floor-to-ceiling display areas for artifacts from university history and exhibits of the current work of faculty and students. Lit by a combination of recessed lamps and natural light drawn in from reopened windows into the Gilman light well, the new Gilman Gallery will be open around the clock. Completion is expected by June.
The wooded sculpture garden north of Mudd Hall and downhill from the O'Connor Recreation Center is long overdue for a facelift. Starting in the spring, its asphalt walks will be replaced with brick paths consistent with the recent makeover of the rest of the campus, and the well-loved but damaged animal sculptures by Beniamino Bufano will be repaired, restored and illuminated with new lighting.
Charles Village Project
A developer will be selected by the end of the year to plan and build a mixed-use project on university-owned property along 33rd Street between Charles and St. Paul streets. The project was first conceived several years ago on the notion that the university's book store should be more accessible to visitors and the general public than it can ever be in the basement of Gilman Hall. The vision that emerged later in the master planning process is that the bookstore would be joined on the site by other retail or commercial tenants, much-needed additional student housing and parking. The chosen developer will fashion a plan and a design for the site in cooperation with both the university and the Charles Village community. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2004.
A donor has provided seed money to pay for preliminary planning for a project that would dramatically transform the southern end of campus. Though that planning has just begun, the Homewood deans and working groups of faculty, administrators and students will soon begin looking at concepts that include a much-needed visitors welcome center and--across from Clark Hall on the new quadrangle forming around Garland Field--a new computer science building for the Whiting School of Engineering. The visitor center would include offices for Undergraduate Admissions, ending the need to hold sessions with prospective students and their parents in the cramped atrium of Garland Hall, where they are constantly disrupted by people bustling about on other business.
Plans for the visitors center and computer science buildings would include a redesign of the southern vehicle entrance to campus and a replacement for the Garland Field parking lot, perhaps the hidden underground parking deck envisioned in the 2000 plan.
No definitive time line for this proposed project has been set. Should it go forward, however, construction could not possibly start before the summer of 2004 when the San Martin Center parking deck opens.
Gilman Hall Renovation
A complete basement-to-bell tower renovation of Gilman Hall, the campus's oldest and best-known academic building, is a high priority of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Funding the project is a major goal of the school's portion of the university's "Knowledge for the World" fund-raising campaign. A preliminary schedule indicates construction might start in 2005. Many of the other Homewood projects already under way will lay the groundwork for the work at Gilman. Those projects will provide new homes or temporary "swing space" for departments and functions that will have to leave Gilman during the renovation. For instance, the Chemistry Department's Dunning Hall and the current Carnegie Institution building might be available for temporary relocations once the new chemistry and Carnegie buildings are complete.