Vol. 6, No.1
Photos by Will Kirk
Gilman Hall turned into a full-fledged construction site over the summer, with faculty and students departing its offices, seminar spaces, and classrooms for parts elsewhere—on the Homewood campus or nearby—until 2010.
In early June, after a flurry of packing by faculty and staff and a farewell party for Gilman's venerable Hutzler Undergraduate Reading Room, construction crews took over the entire building and started heavy demolition throughout. Led by New York-based R.M. Kliment and Frances Halsband Architects, the three-year Gilman renovation project seeks to restore the 93-year-old historic building to its former grandeur while bringing it squarely into the 21st century, and to reestablish it as a national model for teaching and scholarship in the humanities.
The momentous move-out began the day after Commencement. It took 10 decades to amass the great volume of books, papers, furniture, and more in Gilman Hall but just a week to empty it all.
Moving crews helped relocate the nearly 200 faculty, staff, and graduate students to Dell House, the former apartment building at the corner of Charles and 29th streets that will be their home for the next two years. Faculty from the History of Art Department, which had been in Mergenthaler Hall, also moved to Dell in a reunion under one roof of all 10 of the school's humanities departments—just as they will be in the renovated Gilman.
After considering other locations—one option was trailers in the parking lots at Johns Hopkins at Eastern—the school ultimately chose Dell House because it offered a full complement of offices and seminar rooms, and was within walking distance of other campus buildings.
To celebrate the move-out and the next phase of the renovation, the school hosted a "ceremony of the keys" on June 2. Deans and other faculty, members of the school's advisory board, donors, and even Daniel Coit Gilman himself attended the invitation-only event. The "spirit" of the university's first president (portrayed by actor Christopher Graybill) handed over the building's keys—ceremonial cast-iron ones, that is—to a representative of the project's construction firm, Bovis Lend Lease.
With the building emptied of people, the construction crews can now complete the renovation in an uninterrupted, final phase.
Meanwhile, this fall, faculty and students spent the first few weeks of the semester adjusting to classrooms in new locations a bit far-flung from the heart of campus. With no single tidy solution in sight to make up for the loss of Gilman's 15 classrooms, school officials had to get creative.
Dunning Hall, once home to the Chemistry Department, is experiencing a second life as a hub for classroom learning. Located directly behind Remsen Hall, the 42-year-old Dunning Hall was left nearly vacant after the new Chemistry Building opened in 2003. After a major renovation that included installing new bathrooms and an all-new air handling unit, updating fire alarm and sprinkler systems, and turning old chemistry labs into a dozen bright new classrooms equipped with modern audio-visual components and IT capabilities, the building's interior is completely transformed.
In addition to Dunning, space was identified in the Mattin Center (two classrooms), Shriver Hall (one classroom in the building's boardroom), Garland Hall (two classrooms), and Charles Commons (two classrooms). Both the Mattin Center and Charles Commons classrooms were existing spaces that mostly needed desks, chairs, and boards.
Pier Lawson, a professor of history who this fall teaches classes in the Mattin Center rooms, says he doesn't pine for the old Gilman Hall days.
"I don't think many faculty miss the classrooms on the basement level of Gilman Hall," Lawson says, remembering the rooms' clanging radiators, outdated infrastructure, and noisy location.
The Gilman Hall to which he and his colleagues will return in 2010 will look and feel much different: comfortable classrooms with modern amenities, a large lecture hall and reconfigured Donovan Room with state-of-the-art technology, ample social space in a three-story, glass-enclosed atrium—and no more raucous radiators.
For monthly updates on the renovation, go to: krieger.jhu.edu/gilman