Johns Hopkins University Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation & Wellness Center
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Client : Johns Hopkins University
Area : Renovation: 6,000 sf Expansion: 30,000 sf
Program : Gymnasium, Fitness Centre, Fitness Studios, Café, Multi-Purpose Rooms, Administrative and Support Spaces, Exterior Terrace
Associated Architects : GWWO Architects
Comprising both a new structure and a renovation of existing facilities, the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center Expansion increases the size of the current Center by 30,000 square feet—including a new state-of-the-art fitness centre—elevating it into the campus’s foremost social and wellness hub. On the Homewood campus of America’s oldest private research facility, in central Baltimore, Maryland, the Expansion’s infill site neighbours the existing Recreation Centre, as well as a modern addition to a heritage red-brick building and a garden of tree-lined pathways, all of which greet pedestrians entering the campus from the North Gate.
In response to the fully developed campus that surrounds it, MJMA developed a glass- and zinc-clad form that is both transformative of its site and timelessly modern—a durable and beautiful complement to the campus’s heritage buildings. Long, linear and slightly tapered, the Expansion will face the North Gate with a conspicuous and inviting main entrance with a porch-like canopy and a stepped seating area for students to gather and socialize. A glass curtain wall defines the east elevation, providing pedestrians views of all three levels of interior activity.
When completed, the Expansion will include new and renovated administrative and public spaces; a café; weights, cardio and program areas; a student wellness centre and an exterior terrace. A continuous stairway serves as a defining and organizing feature for all three storeys, running the length of the building in three sections, each lit by its own skylight. By connecting every floor along this stairway, the entry level is opened to the floors above and below, and even programmed spaces—including the cardio, fitness and program rooms—are made visually permeable.
In designing the program from the inside out for a balance of active and passive spaces, MJMA has arranged it to display indoor activities to the exterior and optimize interior views overlooking the campus landscape. When complete, the Expansion’s new recreation and wellness offerings will serve the social and physical needs of a growing student body, introducing key new elements that will continue to enrich the campus fabric well into the future.