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Johns Hopkins UniversityArts and Sciences Magazine

Gilman Update: Renovation Heads
into the Final Stretch


Scenes from the renovation: The atrium roof has been completed, new staircases are being erected, and walls are getting fresh coats of paint.


The transformation of Gilman Hall is moving ever closer to completion, with crews working steadily toward a finish this summer.

Through the fall and early spring, each week seemed to bring new milestones in the three-year project: stained glass windows restored and reinstalled in the Hutzler Reading Room (HUT); a new central staircase erected; the stunning glass and steel atrium skylight installed; and, beneath it, marble slabs salvaged from the building's old book stacks polished and laid as new flooring. Exterior scaffolding came down, and drywall inside went up, making it easier than ever to visualize the reinvented Gilman Hall.

"I am thrilled and inspired to see the new Gilman Hall rising out of the old," Adam Falk, then-James B. Knapp Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said in March. "It is clear how marvelously teaching and scholarship in the humanities will be supported when Gilman reopens its doors."

After a year of restoration work, the HUT's iconic stained glass windows—their cracks sealed, frames mended, glass reglazed, and damaged art re-created by local restoration firm Worcester Eisenbrandt—returned home to Gilman in late October. The firm carefully reinstalled the 19 enormous works of art in early November.

Nearby, crews used a massive, 200-ton crane to lift and install piece by piece the renovation's most dramatic visual symbol: a glass-and-steel arched atrium roof spanning the entire interior courtyard. Crews worked steadily to install each of the 154 500-pound glass panels, sealing up the courtyard to the elements in early December, just in time for the first of three major snowstorms for the Baltimore region (one in December and two in February).

Lining the north and south walls of the atrium, a new terra cotta cladding system has been installed around new large windows, and crews worked early in the spring to finish laying the atrium courtyard's marble floor.

On the east side of the atrium, a new central staircase accessing all floors of the building was erected in the fall, and work moved quickly on the two oval-shaped counterparts in Gilman's northeast and southeast corners.

Meanwhile, off-site work continued in several locations. Artwork from Gilman, including portraits of the 13 past university presidents and plaster lunettes and bronze plaques from Memorial Hall, was cleaned and restored in the shops of two local conservators. And, in a single-story industrial building in Middle River, Md., one of the world's finest exhibition case-makers crafted on custom display cases for Gilman's Archaeological Museum. Helmut Guenschel and his crew have built two sets of 11-foot-tall cases that will form the perimeter walls of the new museum, located directly below the atrium courtyard.

Made of metal and double-sided polished glass, the cases feature 42-drawer specimen cabinets at their bases and 1,000 fiber-optic light fixtures to illuminate the objects in the collection. Guenschel has also designed three free-standing cases for the center of the museum, which will serve as rotating exhibit space. The carefully constructed cases were dismantled in January and were being reassembled inside Gilman this semester.

In the coming months, the construction work will give way to a familiar flurry of summer moving, this time faculty and staff returning to Gilman from a two-year stay in Dell House. With its residents settled in, Gilman will reopen its doors for the start of the fall semester, giving students their first look at the radically improved structure, a rejuvenated destination for the entire campus and a modernized home for all 10 of the school's humanities departments.

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(Above)The installation of custom display cases in the Archaeological Museum and the return of the HUT windows signaled significant progress in the Gilman renovation.