Hopkins plans to build arts, rec centers $24 million sought for two projects on Homewood campus

Student life improvements

University hopes to start construction in 2 or 3 years

June 19, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

The Johns Hopkins University is raising $24 million to build two large additions to the Homewood campus in Baltimore: a $12 million student arts center and a $12 million recreation center.

University trustees last week selected a prominent half-acre site near where 33rd Street terminates at North Charles Street to build the arts center. They plan to construct the recreation center just south of Newton H. White Jr. Athletic Center and Homewood Field.

Both projects are part of a trend in which colleges and universities are adding facilities to accommodate extracurricular activities and improve the quality of life for students.

Morgan State University, Loyola College of Maryland and the University of Maryland College Park also are adding arts centers or recreation centers or both.

Larry Benedict, dean of student affairs at Hopkins, said the university will launch a nationwide search for an architect to design the arts center.

"We're going to want to work with someone who has experience in the arts," he said. "This is a signature building, and it's one of the last major buildings that will be constructed on the Homewood campus. We want to do it right."

Benedict said the 50,000-square-foot student arts center could be described as a cross between a student union and a performing arts center.

He said it will contain a flexible theater with seating for 125 or 150, music practice rooms, a dance studio, two art studios and a film and media center. It also will have a cafe, meeting rooms and lounges.

Hopkins does not have a theater arts major and doesn't plan to add one. But it does offer courses in play-writing and other theater-related subjects, and students at Homewood can take music classes at the Peabody Institute in Mount Vernon Place.

Peabody connection

Once the arts center is built, Benedict said, students attending Peabody classes will be able to use music practice rooms on the Homewood campus. "We do envision a closer connection with Peabody in terms of our curriculum and programs," he said.

The 60,000-square-foot recreation center will be a field house for nonvarsity athletics, leaving the White center for varsity sports. The addition will contain four basketball courts, a running track, weight room, aerobics room and large multipurpose space.

Hopkins has been raising money for both projects as part of the $900 million capital campaign launched two years ago. To date, Benedict said, donors have pledged $9 million for the student arts center. That figure includes $4 million from entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg, the chairman of Bloomberg LP as well as chairman of the Hopkins trustees, and $600,000 from Baltimore businesswoman Constance Caplan, Benedict said.

Hopkins has received pledges of about $6 million for the recreation center, he added.

Benedict said the construction timetable for both projects will depend on the pace of fund raising but the university hopes to start construction on both in the next two or three years.

Because funds have been coming in more quickly for the arts center, he said, he is optimistic that its construction could begin by mid-1998 and that construction of the recreation center could begin shortly afterward.

Benedict said the trustees' other choice for the arts center site was a parcel on the west side of campus. The trustees chose the Charles Street site, he said, because it is closer to Charles Village and the university-owned housing east of Charles Street, where 80 percent of the students live.

Construction on the site, on a Charles Street knoll, will result in the loss of some trees and other vegetation. But officials say the campus has so few development parcels available that any site would have resulted in the loss of some greenery. The building will be designed so the campus loses as few trees as possible, said Mary Ellen Porter, assistant to the dean.

Preliminary work done

The recreation center poses fewer environmental issues, because it will be constructed over an existing garage built for the Space Telescope Science Institute on San Martin Drive.

Although the university still must hire an architect to design the project, preliminary work has been done by Grieves Worrall Wright and O'Hatnick of Baltimore, designer of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame on University Parkway. The proposed arts center was the subject of some discussion during a meeting last month of the Charles Village Community Benefits District, a group that is seeking ways to enliven the Charles Village area.

Volunteer planners expressed concern that the building could result in a need for more off-street parking space for the area around the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Benedict said university planners do not believe construction of the arts center will generate a need for additional parking space, because it is mostly for students on campus, rather than a regional center such as the one planned for Morgan State.

The new facility will not take the place of two other performing facilities on campus, the Barn and Shriver Hall. "We see this more as a resource for our students and, secondarily, for the community" at large, Benedict said.

A presentation of the latest development proposals for the Charles Village benefits district will be held at 7: 30 p.m. today at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, Charles and 29th streets.

Other ideas proposed for the community include opening one-way portions of Charles Street to two-way traffic, creating a retail center at 25th and Charles streets, and building a light rail line through Charles Village.

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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