Johns Hopkins University recently completed a renovation that added a new social space on its 140-acre campus in Baltimore, MD. Opened in February 2017, The LaB is the latest addition to other student union spaces on the Homewood Campus.
To support the university’s mission for meaningful engagement and inclusive student gathering spaces, BKP in Philadelphia, PA designed The LaB, a 3,200 square foot, late night campus entertainment venue. Located in a vacant former restaurant, the flexible coffee bar and hangout space provides alcohol-free options for collaboration, games, movies, and music. The renovation accentuated existing features of the 50-year-old building while adding technology, flexible furnishings, and an industrial-hip aesthetic. The project began the fall of 2015.
Sited on the ground floor of Homewood Apartments, a university-owned student residence, The LaB meets student need for a “third” space — one that blurs the boundaries between academics and socialization while offering food and beverage options.
The renovation repurposed existing features in the building, including an original wood bar back and mosaic tile floor. Exposed brick pairs with new graffiti-pattern tile and a dramatic bubble wall — where changing colored LED lighting illuminates bubbling water within.
Comfortable lounge and café seating and work tables of varying sizes can be reconfigured for intimate conversations or special events including movie nights and concerts. The flexible layout can also shift to accommodate a portable stage for concerts. Sliding doors divide a large collaboration area into a private meeting room where a custom table with integrated technology, blackboard, and video screen support presentation and strategy sessions. The collaboration area doubles as a video game room with rentable games and controllers for students. The LaB extends the gathering space outdoors with two terrace seating areas and a new wood pergola marking the main entrance.
The university coordinates diverse activities in the venue, from salsa dancing to SuperBowl parties, but primarily leaves the facility open to student-crafted experiences, where they can enjoy casual conversation, group study, or games.
Caitlin Tumey, JHUnions coordinator of union programming, commented, “This space in Homewood apartments had been sitting empty for years, and so this was an opportunity to revitalize that space and to transform it and bring this unique environment to campus. The atmosphere itself is setting it apart from other spaces. [It’s] a fun, whimsical play on the idea of a lab.”
The project reflects the second collaboration between BKP and Bon Appetit Management Company at Johns Hopkins; the fresh gourmet Charles Street Market was completed in 2013.