Ennead Architects and the Rockwell Group are creating “floating” classrooms for Johns Hopkins University

Ennead Architects and the Rockwell Group are creating “floating” classrooms for Johns Hopkins University

New York-based studios Ennead Architects and Rockwell Group have completed the renovation of the Johns Hopkins University Academic Building in Washington, D.C., with “floating” classrooms at its core.

Called the Bloomberg Center at Johns Hopkins University, the 435,000-square-foot (40,400 m2) building serves as an interdisciplinary educational and events center for the university and the public.

Ennead Architects and Rockwell Group have renovated an academic building for Johns Hopkins University. Photo by Jennifer Hughes.

The 10-story building is located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, between several Johns Hopkins University academic buildings, as well as the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument.

It was designed to evoke a “democratic society,” with a large central atrium containing conference rooms and classrooms that seemed suspended at its core.

Brass and bronze sunscreens mounted on the glass curtain wall
It will serve as a center for education and events for the university and the public. Photo by Jennifer Hughes.

There is a staircase that serves as circulation and seating at the base, while several floors extend upward and contain a number of classrooms and event spaces.

“The design focuses on multiple gathering spaces that can shrink and grow to accommodate all types of meetings, from an intimate breakfast for policymakers to a crowded global conference,” the team said.

“A large, transparent, floating treehouse-like classroom, a stacked collection of glass classrooms and open lounges strung on either side of the atrium, provides vistas for the Hopkins community at work and evokes the openness of academic research in a democratic society.”

Contemporary building in sunset
The team updated the interior and exterior design of the building. Photo by Jennifer Hughes.

Ennead Architects, then Polshek Partnership, built the building in 2008 for the Newseum before its current transformation for Johns Hopkins University.

Together with Rockwell Group and architect Smith Group, the team renovated the interior into a “vertical quadrilateral,” distributing 38 classrooms, a library, a multimedia studio, 26 study rooms, three floors of conference center space, work spaces, and an auditorium. , a fitness center and a 375-seat theater surround the building’s central atrium.

Central lobby in the university building
The team opened up the interior to create a “vertical quadrilateral.” Photo by Alan Karchmeyer.

16,888 square feet (1,586 m2) of outdoor terraces were also added to the exterior.

“It is a rare opportunity as architects to revisit a previous design and reimagine it for a completely new purpose,” said Richard Olcott, design partner at Ennead Architects.

A lobby with multiple floors and an open plan
Hanging classrooms hang in the interior of the central atrium. Photo by Alan Karchmeyer.

“Major interventions include a complete reworking of the vertical circulation to suit the needs of the complex academic program, several reorganized floors, and structural conversions to accommodate classrooms and a completely reconfigured hall.”

“The new central spaces will create a nexus of activity throughout the day and evening, providing meeting, classroom, lounge and gathering spaces of different types and sizes, blurring the traditional boundaries between them.”

Floating classroom space
A floating unit in the center of the atrium contains classrooms and work spaces. Photo by Jennifer Hughes.

The exterior was also refinished to reflect the architectural language of surrounding buildings such as John Russell Pope’s National Gallery of Art and I.M. Pei’s East Building of the National Gallery.

Tennessee pink marble wraps around a newly installed central glass curtain wall with horizontal sunscreens accented in bronze and brass.

Read: Triangular glass panels envelop the Knight Center at the University of Oregon

Sun visors provide protection from heat gain, while Ennead Architects changed the facade elements to bring more daylight into the space.

The Rockwell Group outfitted the interior palette to include a warm mix of wood paneling, terrazzo flooring, brick and wood floor tiles, and accents of red, blue and earthy gray.

People eating at a café located in a large atrium space
Warm wood paneling, terrazzo floors and touches of earthy red complement the interior. Photo by Alan Karchmeyer.

“The Hopkins Bloomberg Center is a comprehensive example of everything our studio is interested in – creating an urban environment within the larger structure, the grouping of spaces within larger spaces, and a sense of place 3 that is defined, in part, by adaptability and usability.” said Rockwell Group founder David Rockwell.

“How people move, interact and come together is at the core of every inch of the building.”

Elsewhere, Ennead Architects recently completed a research facility at the University of Oregon, while Ennead Architects and Rockwell Group recently created a food distribution center in Brooklyn.

Photography was by Jennifer Hughes and Alan Karchmeyer.

structural engineer: Enid Architects
Interior design engineer: Rockwell Group
Engineer of record: Smith Group

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