Skip to Main Content

Johns Hopkins UniversityArts and Sciences Magazine

Gilman Update: Demolition
Gives Way to Restoration

Glenn Ross and students

Scenes from the renovation: A shiny new copper top and refurbished tower, steady progress in the atrium, and newly defined classrooms and offices inside Gilman.


Until recently, the renovation of Gilman Hall had been much about the historic building's deconstruction—as crews dismantled its interior piece by piece to make way for a center for 21st-century humanities scholarship.

But lately the work has taken on a decidedly different character, as new walls begin to frame classrooms and offices, modern mechanical systems are installed, and energy-efficient windows are put into place. The tearing-down in the central atrium has been replaced by the building of the new atrium floor and courtyard above it, connecting Memorial Hall with the Hutzler Undergraduate Reading Room. Outside, the scaffolding erected months ago is coming down a level at a time, revealing a bright new copper cupola and refurbished clock faces.

There is perhaps no more powerful visual symbol of The Johns Hopkins University than the Gilman clock tower. The classic white tower and its copper cupola (the old one long since patined) can be seen from miles away, crowning Gilman and standing watch over the Homewood campus. The tower, complete with four clock faces, two balconies cornered by urns, and a weather vane at its top, got a thorough cleanup over the summer. New frosted glass clock faces replaced the acrylic ones that had been installed some time back, and the weather vane saw a refurbishing and repainting. The cupola shines with new copper now, and will be lit evenly by new energy-efficient spotlights.

In the atrium, crews built the floor of the atrium (the roof of the new Archaeology museum) and spent the summer erecting the courtyard's steel framing and a "dance floor" above it—a temporary work platform to allow for work on all levels of the atrium. Via the dance floor, crews have been able to demolish the non-historical (and small) windows, clean and re-point the historical brick, remove dormers along the perimeter of the atrium, and prepare the roof for the installation of a 60-by-60-foot glass skylight spanning the entire courtyard.

Gilman's interior bears little resemblance to its old self, but its hallways and rooms are taking shape, literally, as first framing and more recently drywall go up throughout the building. With them comes a sense of how much easier it will be to navigate the new Gilman Hall. The old building's warren of eight stairwells—only half of which led from top to bottom—has been reduced to three, each with access to all floors. New corridors have effectively completed the old building's U-shaped circulation, eliminating frustrating and confusing dead-ends. The new central staircase, overlooking the atrium, and two new elevators will help create an easily navigable "main street" on every floor, says Martin Kajic, Gilman project manager for the School of Arts and Sciences.

On each of those floors, crews have been busy lately equipping classroom and seminar spaces with the latest technology in teaching and learning. The renovation will increase the number of pooled classrooms from 15 to 29, and each department will have its own dedicated seminar room. The flagship classroom space will be the ground-floor lecture hall/auditorium, with seating for 145, a sloped floor, "smart" podium, and projection booth with two dedicated digital projectors.

Nearly all the building's teaching space will be newly created. The only renovated classrooms are the Donovan Room—whose graceful windows will be revealed again after long being darkened by heavy curtains so the room could be used for screenings—and the wood-paneled Tudor and Stuart Room. The area formerly known as Room 500 is now a two-story- tall space on the fourth floor with a catwalk up to the clock tower.



Related Link