- ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers
- 2100 Ashland Avenue, 21205 Baltimore, MD
The Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center, together called Henderson-Hopkins, is the first new Baltimore public school built in nearly 30 years. Envisioned to catalyze the revitalization of East Baltimore, the project integrates innovative educational facilities with community and recreational resources and reflects the neighborhood’s urban fabric.
Henderson-Hopkins is conceived as ‘container’ for learning and teaching that can adapt over time to the progressive visions of the school’s operators, Johns Hopkins School of Education/Morgan State. The campus is organized into five Houses that visually connect to each other. Each House includes traditional classrooms and flex spaces for multi-modal instruction and individualized learning, as well as a Commons: a large, luminous volume used for flexible learning and communal lunch, and the connector to an exterior Learning Terrace. The interior spaces are modular and adaptable to any type of pedagogical program and conform to students’ varying learning abilities, habits and ages. Windows everywhere provide optimal sunlight in every building on campus. National precedents were researched to design these traditional and non-traditional learning spaces that accommodate multiple and spontaneous activities.
The scale, composition, pattern, and rhythm of East Baltimore inspired the planning and the architecture of the school. Streets are continued through the school’s two-block site as major communal arteries and social centers. Baltimore’s building block of row houses and internal courtyards inform the plan of interior and exterior learning spaces. Facades step down along the street; the ubiquitous neighborhood form-stone is reimagined in the grooved pre-cast concrete; the glowing Commons set education as a visual landmark following the city’s church steeples’ tradition. To promote urban regeneration, in addition to the school and early childcare facilities, the campus incorporates a family health center, a library, an auditorium, and a gym, as shared resources with residents and businesses in the community.
This project represents what architecture for education can really be about: enabling students, teachers and community. The goal was to recover and reimagine an urban fabric rich in opportunity and optimism for East Baltimore and innovate a school concept rooted in the familiar yet ever changing to fulfill a progressive pedagogy. In its intentionally porous, safe, urban plan and through the craftsmanship of light, materiality and performance, the design respects history and supports the future of education and of this neighborhood.