Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has been selected as designer of the new student center for Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, after a months-long international design competition led by a special advisory committee.
Students and staff were included in the process. More than 1200 students, faculty, staff, and alumni responded to a June survey, inviting evaluation of the four design finalists. Feedback on BIG’s concept was overwhelmingly positive, with survey respondents embracing the building’s open feel, connections to surrounding exterior spaces, abundance of natural daylight, and integrated features that support the university’s sustainability goals. BIG has teamed up with Shepley Bulfinch as architect of record, with Rockwell Group for interior design and Michael Van Valkenburg Associates for landscape design.
The approximately 13,935-m2 (150,000-sf) building will include spaces for relaxation and socialization, creative and performing arts, student resources and support services, lounges, a digital media center, a performance area with seating for 200 people, and a dynamic dining hall connecting directly onto a new plaza along the nearby Charles Street. The facility will satisfy the long-acknowledged need for a true non-academic gathering spot on the university’s Homewood campus.
Located just south of the open space on the Johns Hopkins campus known as “The Beach,” the facility seeks to foster greater connectivity between the campus and the neighboring Charles Village community by creating a prominent, welcoming new entry point. It will turn an area of the campus into a dynamic hub at the crossroads of student activity. As a natural gateway, the area will connect Charles Village and more than 3500 Hopkins students who live in the neighborhood, to the heart of the Homewood campus.
The village is conceived as a central living room surrounded by a collection of spaces tailored to the needs of the Hopkins community. The building negotiates the sloping grade of the site to allow direct entry from all four levels of the building, while maintaining a human scale and providing several accessible routes across the site. Arriving on Charles Street, students and visitors are greeted by an open building façade with dining areas spilling out onto a sun-splashed plaza.
The entrance of the village opens into a cascading interior landscape of dining, performance, lounging, and socializing. The mass timber structure provides a warm and acoustically comfortable environment as light filters in between the photovoltaic (PV) roof panels—features that help meet the university’s larger sustainability goals.
An indoor landscape—as vast as the Beach next door—comprises a cluster of flexible spaces, which open out on to four rejuvenated public spaces: an events-focused commons, the shaded paths of the grove, an entry plaza at 33rd street, and a new food market and plaza to the south. The signature red brick paths of Homewood campus seamlessly flow through the building.
The village transforms the landscape around the building to create outdoor spaces for student activities and events. A central plaza can host pop-up exhibits or performances, as well as vendors and food trucks to enliven the North Charles Street corridor.
The open design allows light to enter the clerestory windows and leaves all student activities and school spirit on display. The village becomes an ever-changing mosaic of the Johns Hopkins Community, and a village greater than the sum of its parts.
The new Hopkins Student Center is set to begin construction in spring 2022 and to be completed by fall 2024.