In Hopkins Student Center planning, 'nearly everything is on the table'

Upcoming engagement sessions give students, staff, and faculty a chance to provide input on the design and function of the new space

A film screening room. A gaming space. A rooftop terrace. A test kitchen. The ideas keep coming for the new Hopkins Student Center, and the project team wants more.

"We are in the first planning phase where nearly everything is on the table," says Alanna Shanahan, vice provost for student affairs and chair of the student center advisory committee. "This is the time we want to hear from students, faculty, and staff from all of our campuses in order to really reflect the needs of the full Hopkins community. All the feedback will help us identify shared priorities and common goals to guide the design of the space."

"This is the time we want to hear from students, faculty, and staff from all of our campuses in order to really reflect the needs of the full Hopkins community."
Alanna Shanahan
vice provost for student affairs

JHU President Ronald J. Daniels announced in March that the university would move forward with plans to build a student center at the Homewood campus, fulfilling longstanding student requests for a dedicated social space. It will be built at the intersection of 33rd and Charles streets, on the site where the Mattin Center currently stands. University leaders expect the student center to be completed in 2024.

Daniels said during his announcement that the center "will be home for all Hopkins students, tailored to their needs and shaped by their input."

To facilitate that input, the university hired Shepley Bulfinch as the project's program and feasibility architects. Throughout the summer, representatives of the firm met with the advisory committee and facilitated several small-group and drop-in feedback sessions that drew more than 500 people. Participants talked about what people do with their time, what they think is missing from campus life, and what would support their well-being. They also talked with more than 400 students that stopped by tables at the Student Involvement Fair and the Welcome Back Block Party last week.

More engagement sessions are scheduled this month. All students, faculty, and staff are invited to drop by for snacks, giveaways, and brainstorming on:

Students are also invited to stop by a table at the Fall Career Fair on Sept. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. at the O'Connor Rec Center.

In addition to these sessions, the architects and members of the advisory committee will meet directly with a number of student groups over the next two months and connect with members of the faculty and staff at the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Members of the university community who wants to share their thoughts but can't attend an event are invited to fill out a short online feedback form.

Georgia Esmond, a second-year public health studies major and student representative on the advisory committee, said she understands some students may be disappointed that they won't be here when the center is finished, but she hopes they will still join the process.

"Our university lives and breathes tradition," she said. "If students want to be a part of this new tradition forming on campus, they should share their desires. They have spent time here and are aware more than anyone what we are missing here on campus and what students want."

Esmond said she has been impressed with how much the advisory board cares about the process and how the group takes her input seriously.

"I'm excited because our university has been missing a place of true escape and relief that is welcoming to all groups of people," she said.