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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University December 3, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 13
Extreme Makeover

On a recent tour of the renovation, Eddie Delluomo, project superintendent for construction manager Bovis Lend Lease, explains the logistics of Gilman's basement excavation work to Krieger School Dean Adam Falk.
Photo by Will Kirk /HIPS

Behind closed doors, workers begin three-year Gilman transformation

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Don't be fooled by the relative calm outside. Though much toil and sweat remains for Gilman Hall's extensive transformation, the renovation of the iconic Homewood academic building is well under way.

The $73 million three-year renovation effort to restore the 92-year-old building began this summer and didn't stop when fall semester came around. Students and faculty continue to stream through the active building, as do construction crews who work four days a week from late afternoon until early morning.

The Gilman renovation project, designed by New York-based R.M. Kliment and Frances Halsband Architects, seeks to restore the historic building to its former grandeur, bring it squarely into the 21st century and once again make it a national model for teaching and scholarship in the humanities.

Adam Falk, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said that this exciting renovation project seeks to restore, enhance and revitalize Homewood's "most important building."

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

Currently, the construction manager, Bovis Lend Lease, is focused on "early work packages." Crews have thus far dismantled the stacks in the core of the building, torn down several walls, punched out strategic interior access holes to move people and equipment, and gutted the former location of the bookstore to get ready to dig a basement to house mechanical systems.

Before, after and during the early demolition work, a series of more delicate efforts have been carried out, such as the careful removal of 100-pound marble floor tiles that can be reused, conservation of books from the stacks and the painstaking, piece-by-piece relocation of artifacts in the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Collection, an effort that is still ongoing.

Students and faculty have been moving artifacts, including an Egyptian coffin and a mummy, to temporary holding rooms elsewhere on the Homewood campus.

The majority of the books from the stacks were moved to the recently completed Library Service Center located on the APL campus.

The Krieger School has paired up with the Sheridan Libraries to hire a firm to conduct a full inventory of the building's art and other historical objects.

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 135,000 square feet of interior space and features a signature bell tower. Following the renovation work, the space available for academic departments will grow from about 49,000 to about 55,000 square feet. Pooled classroom and seminar space will grow to nearly 11,000 square feet.

Specifically, the renovation effort will bring classrooms, faculty offices and other spaces up to modern standards. The exterior of the building will remain largely untouched, but the renovation will give Gilman an extensively reconfigured interior that will allow for better traffic flow and the reassembly of all 10 humanities departments in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Tammy Krygier, a lecturer in Summer and Intersession Programs, and Sanchita Balachandran, a lecturer in Near Eastern Studies, prepare an Egyptian sarcophagus from the Archaeological Collection for its move to temporary quarters.
Photo by Will Kirk /HIPS

The building's most visible and dramatic new feature will be a three-story glass-topped central atrium where there is currently an open, unused light well.

A second-floor courtyard will serve as a bridge between the Hutzler Reading Room and Memorial Hall, which will be largely untouched. It will sit atop a first-floor space for the exhibition and study of the university's archaeological collection, which will be showcased behind glass walls.

The new basement for mechanical systems will maximize space available for program functions elsewhere in the building, including a 140-person film screening room. The excavation work will begin in February, at which time tons of dirt and debris will be taken out one Bobcat load at a time.

Occupants of some fourth-floor offices have already been relocated to temporary spaces on the ground floor.

The building will remain occupied through the end of the spring semester but then will close for two years, during which time classrooms and offices will be relocated to Dell House. Reopening is scheduled for late summer 2010.

Martin Kajic, project manager with the university's School of Arts and Sciences, said that the sheer scale of this project will be the biggest hurdle to overcome.

"Just the move of the building's occupants will be a massive exercise, and that's why we've already started the process and planning," Kajic said. "And I'm sure there will be many obstacles to overcome along the way."

The project, including the costs of temporary space needed during the renovation, is being funded by a combination of university, Maryland state and philanthropic support.


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