Housed in a former purpose-built museum, this renovation creates a flexible and innovative academic building that convenes and strengthens Johns Hopkins University’s expertise, research, and presence in the nation's capital.
The new JHU building is a revitalization of the former The Newseum building
(designed in 2008 by Polshek Partnership, now Ennead Architects), which was designed for use as a museum, including a long-winding ramp from top to bottom and a monumental façade featuring the first amendment. By reconfiguring the interior layout and adapting the exterior presence, this reinvented building, done in collaboration with SmithGroup and Rockwell Group, will be optimized for a state-of-the-art learning environment that reinforces the identity of Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) new D.C. home and sparks a lively and active street presence.
“Converting 555 Pennsylvania Avenue from a museum into a modern education facility to support Johns Hopkins University’s programs is an exciting challenge and we will greatly benefit from having the original building’s architects and engineers on our team.’’
The building establishes a strong identity for Johns Hopkins University within the District of Columbia with its prominent location along the axis connecting The White House and the U.S. Capitol Building and bridging between cultural and commercial precincts. Dedicated to the role of journalism and free speech in our democracy, the Newseum building was characterized by transparency to create a visually open and intellectually accessible stage for the public to learn about and interact with the process of news making throughout history. Leveraging this transparency and honoring the intent of the Newseum building, the JHU building reinforces community by making the entry level more visible and open to the street and by reinterpreting the facades and interiors to align with JHU’s own institutional mission.
"We are delighted to work with Johns Hopkins University to transform this important site into the embodiment of the university's identity in Washington, D.C., and to design an innovative new home for its students and the community. It is a rare and exciting opportunity to be able to reimagine a project for an entirely new purpose and community.''
The new JHU building reinterprets the original Newseum’s façade with a renewed material palette that reinforces Johns Hopkins’ institutional identity and reflects the surrounding historic context. Maintaining much of the careful planning and alignments already established, subtle shifts in the façade components bring more natural light into the building to promote health and wellness within the interior.
This renovation simplifies and reorganizes the Newseum’s building plan. Originally intended to accommodate a highly specialized and linear exhibit experience, the new plan reconfigures the floorplates to increase the building’s square footage, modifies the building systems to support JHU’s academic efforts and sustainability goals, and provides accessibility. To support numerous University programs active in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and around the world, the building’s design emphasizes flexibility, allowing for responsiveness to the needs of multiple programs and emerging pedagogies.
The renovated building will offer convening spaces for experts, policymakers, and academic and policy leaders within a collaborative learning and working environment. The new academic building will include classrooms, offices, conferencing space, and media suites. The atrium of the building will feature a cascading “room stair”, a “room bridge”, a “beach” for informal gathering, and a 370 +/- seat theater with pre-function space. The building will also present several roof terraces, with stunning views of Pennsylvania Ave. and the Capitol Building. Restaurant and café spaces are being planned to complement the other amenities of this building.
Theater, Cafe, Conference center, Libraries, Student lounge, Multi-purpose rooms, Higher-ed collaborative learning, Exterior terraces, Active learning classrooms