In East Baltimore, the storied Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine campus, emblematized by its castlelike Queen Anne–style brick Billings Administration Building, stands in striking contrast with its environs. Around it is one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods, where crime and poverty rates are double the city average, and street after street is lined with mostly vacant, ghostlike row houses with boarded-up windows and doors.

Henderson-Hopkins, a gleaming new $53 million early childhood and K–8 public school operated by Johns Hopkins, now sits on two of those formerly derelict blocks. Designed by New York–based Rogers Partners following an invitational-competition win, the 125,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is the first new public school building to go up in the city in more than 20 years.

The nonprofit East Baltimore Development Inc. hopes that the new school—part of an 88-acre, $1.8 billion mixed-income residential and commercial redevelopment it is managing—will attract young families to the neighborhood, raise real estate values, and further drive development. Johns Hopkins contributed $15 million toward school construction and is offering subsidies to its employees who move to the neighborhood. “The school is an important way for Hopkins to show a different side of itself to the community,” says Ronald J. Daniels, who made Henderson-Hopkins a priority when he was named university president in 2009.

Rogers's scheme draws from the neighborhood's existing architectural fabric, characterized by two- and three-story brick and formstone row houses interspersed with beefier landmarks—the Italianate St. Wenceslaus church, dating to 1914; the recently renovated American Brewery building built in 1887; and Shimek's Bohemian Hall, a former church-organ factory that is now itself a Baptist church. Following the silhouette of the surrounding streets, the school consists of long rows of squat, copper-colored precast concrete facades that echo the formstone veneer of the adjacent houses, interrupted with tall translucent volumes containing large communal spaces. “We didn't want to land a spaceship in the middle of this neighborhood,” says firm principal Robert M. Rogers. “It was about being a neighborhood school and an urban school, unabashedly.”

The architects also wanted to incorporate the traditions of Baltimore neighborhoods. In East Baltimore's heyday in the 1940s and '50s, the two- or three-step marble stoops that front every row house were social centers, where neighbors gossiped and hung out; the street bonhomie was central to life in Baltimore. “There were 900-square-foot houses on this lot with two families in them, so the street had to be the gathering space,” says associate partner Vincent Lee, who grew up in Baltimore. “We wanted to reinforce that community idea of public space.”

This concept made its way into the school. Henderson-Hopkins's community amenities are grouped along the spine of a major thoroughfare, Ashland Avenue, with the school tucked behind. This organization allowed the architects to create a gated security system, with the auditorium, gym, family-resource center, and library accessible after hours. The architects preserved the facades and stoops of nine historic row houses, listed on the state historic registry, for the front of the new library along Ashland. Marble stoops from other razed buildings were repurposed as outdoor seating.

Inside, the school has a different vibe: modern, expansive, even cool. K–8 students are grouped in five clusters or “houses,” with two grades and 120 students per cluster (except kindergarten, which is by itself). Each house, containing traditional classrooms, seminar-size rooms, and flexible open learning spaces, has its own double-height (or taller) commons and an outdoor terrace. Doing away with a traditional cafeteria, each house has a servery, and kids eat in the commons. “It was a big decision to say we're not going to have a cafeteria, because cafeterias are about travel time, discipline, lining up, getting there and coming back,” Rogers says, adding that it reinforced the idea that Henderson-Hopkins's design, which has only 16 traditional classrooms, needed to be radically different from a typical school.

The campus, occupied since January, is arranged in chronological order by grade, with space starting to open up and become more complex as students get older. The Early Childhood Center (ECC), which is expected to open in late summer and will accept babies as young as 6 weeks old, is inward-looking, Rogers says, designed to make kids feel secure and develop skills in spaces designed at their scale. (The windows practically reach the ground, so toddlers can see out.)

As you get farther along, there are fewer traditional classrooms, larger common spaces, and more freedom to roam the campus. Middle-schoolers have access to a roof deck looking out to the city. “Up there, you can see the neighborhood, you see the world,” Rogers says. “It's the complete opposite of the insular, secure world that you started in as a 2-year-old. You get to see your own progression.”


East Baltimore Community School Inc.

Architects+Urban Designers
100 Reade Street,
New York, NY 10013
T 212. 309.7570

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Robert M. Rogers, FAIA, Partner, Principal in Charge
Vincent Lee, RA, Associate Partner, Design Leader
Timothy Fryatt, Associate, Project Architect for Construction Administration
Kip Katich, RA, Project Architect

Structural Engineer:
Faisant Associates, Inc.

MEP+FP Engineer:
Global Engineering Solutions

Geotechnical Engineer:
EBA Engineering, Inc.

Civil Engineer:
Phoenix Engineering, Inc.

Floura Teeter Landscape Architects

Flux Studio

Spexsys, LLC

Sustainability: Terra Logos: Eco Architecture
Food Service: Cini-Little International, Inc.
Theater: Fisher Dachs Associates
Graphics: Salestrom Design
Furniture: Gensler

General contractor:
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Albert Vecerka,
Credit: Albert Vecerka/ESTO


125,000 square feet

Construction cost:

$42 million

Project cost:

$53 million

Completion date:

December 2013



Structural system
Precast Concrete Superstructure with Custom Formliner - Metromont Corporation

Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project:
Acoustical Metal Decking ' Versa-Dek

Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtain wall:
Storefront/curtainwall ' EFCO Corporation, Series 433 storefront, and Series 5600 curtainwall

ACM Rainscreen:
Aluminum Composite Metal Panels ' IronShore Contracting, LLC. Citadel products.

Fiber Cement Rainscreen:
Fiber cement siding ' James Hardie Commercial, Hardie Panel HZ5 Vertical Siding

Glazed Pre-faced CMU ' Trenwyth (Oldcastle) Astra-Glaze-SW+
Standard 8' Brick ' Potomac Valley Brick

Moisture barrier:
Self-adhering Air & Vapor Barrier 'Grace Construction Products, Perm-A-Barrier wall membrane

Built-up roofing:
Single membrane TPO ' Carlisle Syntec Systems, FleeceBACK TPO system

Coping ' Petersen Aluminum, Pac-Clad

Metal frame:
Aluminum Unit Window ' EFCO Corporation Series 325X

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing:
Translucent wall-panel system ' Duo-Gard Industries, Inc., Series 3500 40MM tongue & groove

Insulated glazing unit ' Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope 1' Solarban 60 IGU

Thermalized acrylic dome ' Carlisle Sun Weld prismatic skylight

Aluminum Entrance Doors ' EFCO Corporation,
Series D318 Durastile Heavy Duty Entrance

Metal doors:
Hollow Metal Doors - Curries, Allegany Door and Hardware

Wood doors:
Composite veneer ' Algoma Hardwoods, Inc.

Fire-control doors, security grilles:
Overhead coiling doors ' The Cookson Company, Inc.

Assa Abloy Consultant
Contact ' Liana Steffens,,

Assa Abloy - Sargent

Assa Abloy

Exit devices:
Assa Abloy - Sargent

Assa Abloy - Rockwood

Security devices:
Assa Abloy

Other special hardware:
Assa Abloy - Pemko

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings:
Wood-fiber acoustic panel ' Tectum Inc., Tectum Ceiling Panels
Corrugate metal acoustic ceiling system ' Gordon Alpro Acoustical Ceiling, perforated

Suspension grid:
Lay-in acoustical tile ceiling system ' Armstrong, Ultima

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Mohagany, Inc

Paints and stains:
Concrete Wall Stain ' L.M. Scofield Company, Lithochrome Chemstain Classic. Hyde Concrete.
Concrete Slab Dye ' L.M. Scofield Company, Formula One. Hyde Concrete.
Paints ' Sherwin Williams, interior paints

Wall coverings:
Sheet natural cork ' Jelinek Cork Group
Sheet linoleum ' Forbo, Marmoleum
Bullentin board tack surface ' Forbo Bullentin board

Plastic laminate:
Casework plastic laminate - Formica

Floor and wall tile:
Ceramic tiles - Dal-Tile, Natural Hues
Quarry tiles ' Dal-Tile, Quarry Tile

Resilient flooring:
Resinous flooring ' Durex Covering, Inc, Dex-O-Tex Colorflake L Flooring
Gymnasium resilient flooring ' Connor Sports, ElastiPlus

Carpet tile ' Interface FLOR

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Black-out and solar shades ' SFW Contract shading systems
Sprung stage floor ' Robbins Bio-Channel Classic

Interior ambient lighting:
Zumbotel Lighting, Inc.
Bartco Lighting
Cooper Lighting
IO Lighting

Cooper Lighting

McGraw Edison
Seelux Corp
Cooper Lighting
IO Lighting

Dimming System or other lighting controls:
Leviton Lighting Controls

Holeless Single-piston Hydraulic Elevator ' Otis Elevator Company

Toilets and urinals ' Kohler, Kingston and Bardon high efficiency low-flow
Toilet/urinal flush valve - Sloan
Lavatory ' Kohler, Chesapeak
Water fountains ' Halsey Taylor, Contour Series barrier-free
Sinks ' Elkay, Lustertone
Faucets ' Chicago Faucets

Energy management or building automation system:
Siemens building automated system

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Mechanical ducting ' KE Fibertec Fabric Duct ' Gert Jensen,,
Ceiling fans ' Big Ass Fans, Isis