Six adults wearing hard hats smile for the camera. In front of them are two wooden beams covered in signatures.

Credit: Larry Canner / Johns Hopkins University

Campus construction

Ceremony marks Hopkins Student Center construction milestone

The new building, envisioned as a focal point of student activity and engagement on the Homewood campus, is scheduled to open in July 2025

Johns Hopkins University marked an important milestone in the construction of the new Hopkins Student Center on Thursday evening, hosting a topping off ceremony to celebrate the completion of the building's structure. The topping off or topping out event traditionally celebrates the placement of the last beam of a construction project.

Attendees of Thursday's ceremony had the opportunity to sign their names on two of the student center's beams, which were then raised into the building and celebrated with a toast.

At the milestone event, JHU President Ron Daniels thanked attendees for their contributions to the building, which he described as "a living embodiment of the [university's] ideals." The Hopkins Student Center is scheduled to open in July 2025.

"We're in the process of delivering a building that meets the needs and hopes of our diverse community of students, faculty, staff, and neighbors," Daniels said. "A building that will be home to a constellation of open walls, meeting rooms, and gathering spaces to inspire the more than 400 student organizations that live on our campus. A building that will course with the energy of individuals across our institution and city. And on a day like today, a building framed by striking sunlight and populated by open outdoor spaces that will inspire new ideas and the collaborations that bring them to fruition. Thank you once again to everyone who helped raise this building."

Video credit: Roy Henry / Johns Hopkins University

Students have long sought a student center on Homewood campus, with 81% supporting the idea in a 2018 poll. Those who attended the topping off ceremony expressed excitement about the building's potential to enhance the student experience, including junior Emma Rose.

"It was so special to be able to walk through the building and imagine myself catching up with friends," said Rose. "I'm so excited for there to be a space for building relationships and hanging out with other students outside of the library and buildings we have classes in."

Rachelle Hernandez, vice provost for student affairs, explained that the building's completion will make possible many improvements to campus life.

"The Hopkins Student Center will be a first for JHU, creating a hub of activity for JHU students and a place for our students, faculty, staff, and community members to connect and engage with each other," Hernandez said. "This state-of-the-art facility was designed by and for students, responding to our students' desire for a community space that provides opportunities to build connections across divisions and learner levels. This incredible facility will offer a welcoming social gathering and community space unlike anything seen before at Johns Hopkins."

Beyond offering areas for relaxation and socializing, the 150,000-square-foot building will include designated spaces for art programs, media lounges, dining options, and student resources and support services. It will also feature a performance space with approximately 200 seats.

The building was designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) with interior architecture by the Rockwell Group. Construction has been led by Clark Construction with Shepley Bulfinch as the architect of record.

Mock-up of the interior at the Johns Hopkins student center, including a large staircase and several seating and lounging areas.

Image credit: Rockwell Group

The project broke ground in August 2021 with construction beginning in Winter 2022. Since then, the building has created thousands of jobs and contributed tens of millions of dollars to the local economy, strengthening both the Hopkins and Baltimore communities. Costs for this project are covered by philanthropic contributions and institutional resources.

"It is no exaggeration to say that we've been dreaming of this for a very long period," Daniels said. "Indeed, when we searched through the annals of Johns Hopkins, it's clear that since 1884, students have been advocating for the creation of a student center. ... I'm thrilled that we are, as of today, one step closer to answering that call."