Johns Hopkins finalized today the purchase of 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, in Washington, D.C., which will become a state-of-the art university facility for research, education, and public engagement that allows every academic division of the institution to have a presence in the nation’s capital, increasing the University’s ability to bring its research and expertise to national and global policy-making debates.
“We are delighted to move forward with expanding Johns Hopkins’ presence in the District of Columbia, and the exciting opportunities this new location brings for our Baltimore and D.C. academic programs alike,” said Mitch Bonanno, chief real estate officer for Johns Hopkins University. “This remarkable facility will become a vibrant hub for research, education, and convenings, representing a rare alignment of our mission of sharing knowledge with the world, and the ongoing growth of the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor.”
The building was previously home to the Newseum, which concluded its operations and closed to the public in December. After renovations, the facility will be anchored by the School of Advanced International Studies, while housing all Johns Hopkins academic programs currently based in Washington as well as programs from all academic divisions of the university. This new expanded presence in the district will allow for greater collaboration and flow of ideas and people between Baltimore and Washington.
“While we continue to imagine new possibilities for the space, we anticipate that students and faculty from all Hopkins programs will make use of the building,” says Lainie Rutkow, senior adviser to the president for national capital academic strategy. “It brings all D.C.-based programs together under one roof and opens the door to exciting new avenues for collaboration, impact, and opportunity for all students and faculty. This will be an extraordinary platform to broaden the national and global impact of the research and education at Johns Hopkins’ flagship campus in Baltimore.”
In particular, the purchase will enable a larger presence in Washington of undergraduate students from Johns Hopkins.
“We view this project as an opportunity for undergraduate students to connect their classroom learning and research with impact and engagement experiences in the heart of Washington, D.C.,” Rutkow says.
The purchase comes as the university is preparing for negative financial impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. All capital projects over $100,000 have been suspended except those projects that address safety or systems issues, meet an urgent strategic need, or are supported by donor and/or sponsored funds. In this case, the purchase of 555 Pennsylvania Avenue for $302.5 million represents both a strategic need for the future of Johns Hopkins and is financed by significant philanthropic support and the future sale of three university buildings on Massachusetts Avenue, NW, currently assessed at more than $104 million.
Renovations to convert the property for academic use will include structural and architectural alterations such as introducing more natural sunlight in the building’s façade, reconfiguring floorplates to increase square footage, and modifying building systems to support the university’s academic needs as well as its sustainability goals. While the building’s interior designs are still being developed, the building will have instructional spaces that accommodate a variety of teaching and learning styles.
“We are pleased that this iconic building will be reinvigorated by Johns Hopkins University,” said John Falcicchio, chief of staff and acting deputy mayor for planning and economic development. “We have been engaged in discussions with the university for more than a year to ensure 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, is a beacon of thought leadership that engages and supports the neighborhood and the city in which it sits. Johns Hopkins has been an enthusiastic partner, with significant commitments to local hiring, local businesses, and educational access.”
The design effort is being led by Ennead Architects in collaboration with the Rockwell Group for interior design of the public spaces. Ennead, previously known as Polshek Partnership, was the original architect for the 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, building. The Washington office of SmithGroup is the architect of record; structural engineering firm LERA and building systems engineering firm WSP will consult on the project. CBRE will serve as local property manager, Mark G. Anderson Consultants will provide project management support, and Clark Construction Group LLC has been selected as construction manager.