BIG’s design for Hopkins Student Centre, or ‘The Village’, is an open, modern, and welcoming facility envisioned as a social engagement hub for all members of the Hopkins community.
BIG is thrilled to have been selected as the designer of the new Student Centre for Johns Hopkins University; the result of a months-long international design competition led by a special advisory committee. Students and student affairs staff were included throughout the process, and more than 1,200 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, along with Rockwell Group for interior design and Michael Van Valkenburg Associates for landscape design.
The approximately 150,000 square foot building will include spaces for relaxation and socialisation, creative and performing arts spaces, student resources and support services, lounges, a digital media centre, a performance space with seating for 200 people, and a dynamic dining hall that connects directly onto a new plaza along Charles Street. The facility will satisfy the long-acknowledged need for a true non-academic gathering spot on the university’s Homewood campus in Baltimore, Maryland.
Ronald J Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University said,
“This will be a new kind of space for us—one that is not academically focused, but entirely social by design, Open to all, reserved for none, and boasting the kind of flexible spaces that invite connection and collaboration, this will be a place where athletes and actors, step teams and SGA members can gather side by side.”
Located just south of the iconic open space on the Johns Hopkins campus known as “The Beach” at the intersection of 33rd and Charles Streets, the facility will foster greater connectivity between the campus and the neighbouring Charles Village community by creating a prominent, welcoming new entry point at 33rd Street. 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 3,500 Hopkins students who live in the neighbourhoods, to the heart of the Homewood campus.
Alanna Shanahan, Vice Provost of Student Affairs, Johns Hopkins University said,
“The transition from the programming feasibility study to the start of the design process has been incredibly exciting. To take what Hopkins students have shared as their aspirations for the building and to see those pieces begin to come to life through a dynamic design process gives me confidence this building will be everything our students hoped for, and more.”
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 friendly human scale and providing several accessible routes across the site. Arriving on Charles Street, students and visitors are greeted by an open building facade with dining areas spilling out onto a sun-splashed plaza.
Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group said,
“Having taught at a number of world-renowned universities on the East Coast, it is an incredible honour to have been chosen to create the framework for the life of the Johns Hopkins students. We have attempted to imagine and design the Campus Centre like a village condensed from a plethora of different spaces and pavilions for the greatest possible diversity of activities, interests and sub-cultures.”
The entrance of The Village opens into a cascading interior landscape of dining, performance, lounging, and socialising. The mass timber structure provides a warm and acoustically comfortable environment as light filters in between the photovoltaic roof panels—features that help to meet the university’s larger sustainability goals.
Leon Rost, Partner, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group said,
“Often the greatest ideas and breakthroughs occur away from the desk, when minds have a chance to wander, to play, to riff with others. The new Hopkins Student Centre is designed to provoke the sometimes-necessary distractions that complement rigorous academic life – a place for a future generation of Salks, Curies, and Cricks to unlock their next great discovery.” .
An indoor landscape – as vast as the Beach next door – is comprised of 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 Centre is set to begin construction in Spring 2022 and to be completed by Fall 2024. This is BIG’s third academic building in the United States, following the Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub for the University of Massachusetts Amherst and The Heights Building for Arlington Public Schools, both completed in 2019.
All images are from the design competition submission.