Dust, Noise...Ah, Progress!
Charles Commons will have a “transformational” effect on student life,
says Dean of Undergraduate Education Paula Burger.
Photo: by Will Kirk/HiPS
The Homewood campus and surrounding environs are alive with the thung of piledrivers and the roar of heavy machinery this spring, as several major construction projects move closer to completion.
In Charles Village, the mixed-use Charles Commons is on schedule to open by Sept. 1. The Commons—which has risen at 33rd Street between Charles and St. Paul streets—will include housing for 600-plus upperclassmen and will be anchored by a substantially expanded university bookstore totaling 29,000 square feet.
Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education and vice provost, predicts the new facilities will be nothing short of “transformational” for the student experience. “It’s about so much more than bed space for students,” she says. “It’s about raising the bar substantially on the quality of the residential experience and further developing a sense of an upperclass housing ‘precinct’ right across from campus.”
Indeed, students will find a bevy of amenities in the new complex, which includes nine stories of residential space in a 12-story tower fronting Charles Street, and seven stories of residential space in the 10-story tower at 33rd and St. Paul. Level 2 of the Charles Street building will include a library, living room space, computer lab, and meeting rooms. Level 3 will offer an exercise room, community kitchen, TV/game room, laundry facility, and music practice rooms. This level will connect by skybridge to a central student dining facility in the St. Paul Street building.
Says Burger, “The Charles Commons constitutes an enormous step in strengthening the sense of community on our campus. The name ‘Commons’ was chosen quite advisedly.”
The complex will become the new home of the Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union, which, like the bookstore, is moving from its current cramped quarters in the ground floor of Gilman Hall. That stately, 90-year-old building is slated for substantial renovation—to begin in May 2007—that will modernize heating and lighting, offer safety improvements, and provide new classroom, office, and study space. The first phase of the project will include renovation of the majority of Gilman’s ground floor to house the departments of Near Eastern Studies, Classics, and History of Art, and an archaeology museum.
Across campus, after months of muddy excavation, the new Decker Quadrangle is beginning to take shape. The quad will rise to the west of Shriver Hall, have Garland Hall on its northern edge, and include a three-level, 604-space parking garage underneath its center grassy field.
Construction has started on a new computational sciences building, which will flank the quad’s eastern edge and rise three stories. On the southern edge, the quad’s cornerstone will be a 28,000-square-foot admissions and visitor’s center, which will become the new “front door” to the Homewood campus, according to university leaders.
Recently named Mason Hall to honor the building’s donors—Raymond A. “Chip” Mason, chair of the university’s trustees, and his wife, Rand—the visitor’s center will house the admissions office; an alumni board room; and an area with information on Hopkins history, current research, and the undergraduate experience.
“Mason Hall has been designed to be a window on the student experience at Hopkins,” says Burger. “We’ve taken great pains to have the whole ambiance reflect the excitement of the university as well as the personal nature of undergraduate education.”
Both Mason Hall and the computational sciences building are scheduled to open in September 2007.
—Sue De Pasquale