When a college expands and grows, building shiny state-of-the art facilities at its periphery, the oldest buildings at the heart of campus are sometimes neglected. Such was the case with campanile-topped Gilman Hall at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The Federal style redbrick structure, built in 1915 to house the School of Arts and Sciences, occupied a privileged spot at the head of the main quadrangle. But despite its prominent location, Gilman, which included a library and four stories of office and classroom space around a courtyard, lacked basic infrastructure such as up-to-date climate-control systems and code-compliant stairs—that is, until the completion of a $58.6 million renovation last year by the New York City architects Kliment Halsband.


Not only were the facilities antiquated, but Gilman's space was underutilized: The 25,000 square feet of book stacks had sat almost completely empty since the construction of a new library in 1964. In addition, the courtyard, which included an enclosed passageway linking the main entry to a reading room, was inaccessible to occupants. It functioned as little more than a light well.

The client considered Gilman's exterior “a don't-touch zone,” according to Kliment Halsband partner Frances Halsband. However, her firm had more freedom on the interior. “We kept what worked, but were completely unsentimental about what didn't,” she explains. For example, the architects got rid of the old stacks, claiming the space for new faculty offices, seminar rooms, and administrative areas. And they reconfigured circulation, adding elevators and rebuilding stairs.

The renovation's boldest move was demolition of the courtyard passageway. Its removal allowed the transformation of the previously unusable core into a lively atrium, where students can chat or study. This new gathering space has a precisely engineered tension-grid skylight overhead, white marble salvaged from the old library stacks underfoot, and walls clad in buff terra-cotta panels. These conceal sound-absorptive material, softening what would have been an acoustically harsh environment.

Tucked underneath the atrium is a new archaeology study center. It is surrounded on all four sides by cases for the display of ancient pottery, glassware, and other artifacts and by an almost 8-foot-wide circulation zone open to the skylight above. In certain locations, anyone circumnavigating the study center can peer beyond the objects on view, through a second layer of glass, into the center's interior—a feature that has the effect of making the entire room into an oversized vitrine.

In Gilman's grand historic spaces, the architects' touch was much lighter. In the reading room, for instance, where colonnades separate an apselike area from a pair of side areas, they restored stained glass windows, replaced historically unsympathetic lighting with replicas of the original torchères and wall sconces, and disguised new mechanical systems in paneled millwork. They also inserted structural glass partitions behind the columns to acoustically divide the main and flanking spaces.

Much of the renovation work focused on improving environmental performance. In addition to the new building systems, changes such as the replacement of single-glazed wood windows with double-glazed versions and the furring out of perimeter walls for insulation have put Gilman on track for LEED Silver certification. Fortuitously, creation of the atrium should also help the building achieve its energy-saving goals, since covering the former light well reduces the size of the exterior envelope by almost one-third. However, the architects make no distinction between the efficiency measures and the conversion of a lifeless void into a social hub. Both efforts are intended to enhance the utility of the nearly century-old building, according to Halsband. “All of it,” she says, “is part of preparing Gilman for the next 100 years.”

Total construction cost: $58.6 million

Completion Date:  June 2010

Gross square footage: 146,500

Kliment Halsband Architects
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY  10001
212.243.7400 phone
212.633.9769 fax


Owner: Johns Hopkins University

Kliment Halsband Architects
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY  10001
212.243.7400 phone
212.633.9769 fax

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Frances Halsband, FAIA – Partner/Project Designer
Robert Kliment, FAIA – Parnter/Collaborating Designer
Alex Diez, AIA, LEED AP – Partner/Project Manager
Carolyn Hinger, AIA, LEED AP  – Associate/Project Architect
David Miller, AIA – Project Architect
Jennifer Stencel, AIA, LEED AP – Architect
Natalie Rebuck, AIA, LEED AP – Associate/Architect
Robert Litherland - Architect

MEP/FP: James Posey Associates

Structural: Robert Silman Associates (Washington, D.C. office)

Telecom Engineer: RTKL

Landscape: Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc.

Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates

Acoustical: Acoustical Design Collaborative, Ltd.

Gridshell Consultant: Schlaich Bergermann and Partner LP

Donor Signage Consultant: C&G Partners

Artist: Kendall Buster

Art Consultant: Nancy Rosen

LEED Consultant: Steven Winter Associates, Inc.

Audio/Visual Consultant: Technology Design Resources LLC

Cost Estimating Consultant: Faithful + Gould

Elevator Consultant: Van Deusen and Associates

Code Consultant: Koffel Associates

General contractor: Lend Lease Construction

Peter Mauss / Esto

Renderer(s): Brian Burr

CAD system, project management, or other software used:  AutoCad 


Structural system
New floor and roof structures - Steel frame with concrete on metal deck

Manufacturer of structural components unique to this project: Tension Grid Skylight System – Novum Structures, LLC

Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtain wall: EFCO

Moisture barrier:  Grace Construction Products

Curtain wall:  EFCO 


Elastomeric: EPDM – Firestone

Metal: Copper dormers, bell tower & dome – Revere Copper & Brass

Tile/shingles: Slate – North Country Slate

Wood frame: Historically replicated wood and glass windows:  Marvin

Metal frame:  Interior atrium windows:  EFCO

Glass: Interior atrium windows: EFCO

Skylights: Tension Grid Skylight Glazing: Novum Structures LLC

Stained Glass Conservation and Restoration: Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc.

Patterned Glass at Interior Partitions: Bendheim

Structural Glass Wall System - Structural Glass Wall: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope

Hollow Metal doors:  Michbi Doors

Exterior Solid Wood doors: Harring Doors

Fire-control doors, security grilles:  Horizontal and Overhead Coiling Fire Shutters – Overhead Door Corp.

Locksets:  Best Access

Closers: Hager; LCN Closers

Exit devices: Von Duprin

Pulls: Hager

Other special hardware: Front entrance door pulls – Forms + Surfaces

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings:  Decoustics; USG

Suspension grid:  USG

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Ilex Woodworking

Paints and stains:  Sherwin Williams

Acoustic Wood Paneling:  Decoustics

Plastic laminate:  Formica

Solid surfacing:  Corian

Floor and wall tile:  Toilet Rooms -Daltile

Carpet: Karastan;Mohawk

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Corkboard – Forbo

Roll Down Shades – Mechoshade

Interior Stonework – Hilgartner Natural Stone Company

Terrazzo – Roman Mosaic & Tile Company

Terracotta Atrium Wall Cladding – NBK Terracotta by HunterDouglas

Office furniture: Herman Miller Desk and Aeron Chair; 40/4 Stacking Chairs

Atrium furniture: Bertoia Diamond Chair; Vignelli Café Table; D’Urso Coffee Table

Fixed seating:  Theater Solutions; Knoll upholstery

Historic Classroom/Reading Room Furniture: Palmieri Tables; Agati Prairie Chair

Chairs: Bertoia Diamond Chair; Agati Prairie Chair; Mies van der Rohe Krefeld-inspired chair by David Edward

Tables: Palmieri Tables; Vignelli Café Table; D’Urso Coffee Table; Florence Knoll Coffee Table

Office Lighting: Gammalux

Classroom Lighting: Gammalux

Atrium Lighting: Sistamalux

Historic Replica Lighting: Rambusch

Dimming System: Lutron

Daylighting System:  Sensor Switch

Elevators – Kone EcoSpace

Fixtures – American Standard
Faucets & flushing devices – Sloan

Energy management or building automation system:  Johnson Controls

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Movable Storage System for Archaeology Collection – F.A. O’Toole Office Systems, Inc. provided Kardex and Tennsco

Archaeology Custom Vitrines – Helmut Guenschel