Johns Hopkins University Gilman Hall

This project transforms the 95-year-old Gilman Hall, iconic center of the Johns Hopkins University campus, into a modern, environmentally sustainable facility for the Krieger School of Arts Sciences.

Gilman Hall was originally designed to integrate the library, seminar rooms, and department offices under one roof. However, the construction of a new university library in 1964 left Gilman Hall with empty book stacks and an unused lightwell. The renovation converts the former lightwell into a glass-roofed atrium, creating a social commons at the heart of the campus. The former library book stacks were replaced with 25,000sf of academic space making it possible to reassemble all 10 humanities departments in one place. Additionally, 14,000sf of new space was created for a museum and lecture hall beneath the new atrium floor.

While the interior was updated to maximize space and provide modern conveniences, the historic integrity of the exterior of this landmark building was preserved. New ramps, concealed by marble walls and plantings, provide full accessibility. Inside the building the outer ring of historic spaces and grandly scaled faculty offices were preserved, restored, and enhanced. Toward the center of the building the design shifts from historic to modern, culminating in the glass-roofed atrium.

Key Design Elements
Glass-roofed atrium, creating a social and academic core within the building
25,000 sf of new academic space ringing the atrium, and 14,000 sf of new space beneath the atrium
Restoration of historic rooms
Circulation system fostering community, and exceeding code requirements for safety and accessibility

The centerpiece of the renovation is a new four-story atrium created by enclosing the light well with a tension-grid skylight spanning the 60 foot space with a structure less than 10 inches deep. The atrium is a new gathering space for students and faculty. Diaphanous vessel-shaped sculptures, commissioned from the Virginia-based artist Kendall Buster, are suspended from the glass ceiling. The barrel-vaulted skylight is comprised of four prefabricated framing ladders with stainless steel clamps supporting each five-foot square, 1.5-inch-thick glass pane. Each pane weighs 500 pounds. Stainless steel tension cables strung underneath the structure provide additional support and prevent movement.

Three walls of the atrium are clad in terra cotta tile forming a screen wall light in weight and in visual effect, in contrast to the more solid brick wall of the original building.

Salvaged and recycled building materials were used throughout the atrium. Structural marble floor slabs from the original book stacks were cleaned and reused as the atrium floor. Salvaged bricks were used to build the new arched entrance on the atriums western side.

New Spaces
Faculty offices, seminar rooms, and graduate student workspaces are located in former book stack areas. Department offices are located at the corner stair and elevator nodes, welcoming visitors, staff, and students. More than 80 new offices facing the atrium receive natural light through oversized windows. The sloped roof and dormers around the light well were removed, creating an additional floor of full-height office space.

A new climate-controlled space beneath the atrium floor houses the universitys archaeological collection and department study center. Specially designed glass vitrines line the space, allowing visitors to look into the collection study center.

A new 1,500sf lecture hall/auditorium located on the buildings ground floor seats up to 145 people. The asymmetrical layout, faceting of the wall planes, and the paneling were designed to ensure optimal sound quality.

Restored Historic Spaces
Historic Memorial Hall and the Hutzler Reading Room were both restored. In Memorial Hall, new ramps were installed with marble patterned on historic flooring themes. Historic windows in the Hutzler Reading Room and Memorial Hall were refurbished. New glass partitions in the Hutzler Reading Room provide flexibility of use, while retaining the grand dimensions of the original space. Faculty offices were updated with modern lighting and mechanical systems as well as floor to ceiling bookshelves.

The reconfigured circulation system eliminates former dead end corridors and creates a continuous circulation loop on each floor. New stairs, elevators, and entrances are designed to foster interaction, improve traffic flow, and provide focal points at department entrances on each floor. Two oval staircases in the corners of the building replace the original winding stairs, and a new modern central staircase overlooks the atrium. Glassed catwalks at the atrium connect circulation corridors on the upper floors.

Gilman Hall is expected to earn LEED Gold and will be the first LEED-certified building on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. Despite an increase of more than 8 in floor area, a 25 reduction in the buildings energy costs is anticipated. Energy-efficient mechanical systems, located in the newly excavated basement below the atrium, have air handling units with smart controls that allow the use of up to 100 of outdoor air for cooling the building when ambient temperatures are favorable.

All of the brick exterior walls were furred out and insulated, and all the windows were replaced with custom wood windows with low-emissivity, double-paned thermal glazing. The slate roof was restored with appropriate insulation.

The atrium creates a buffered zone between inside and outside and reduces the exterior surface of the building by 30. The fritted glass skylight limits sunlight while bringing natural light to the more than 80 individual offices ringing the atrium. Transoms and interior glass partitions bring outside light into all building corridors.

Day-lighting sensors in the large public spaces monitor changes in natural light throughout the day, gradually increasing and decreasing artificial lighting as needed. Occupancy sensors in other spaces turn off lights after the last person leaves. Low-flow plumbing fixtures conserve water. During construction, 98 of construction waste was recycled.


Project Type


3400 N Charles Street, Baltimore, 21210,