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MEDIA ADVISORY: Brody Learning Commons Opens at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Campus

September 4, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Brian J. Shields
Communications and Marketing Manager
Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries and University Museums
(410) 516-8337 (office)
(443) 631-2890 (cell)

Library Addition Offers Natural Light, Generous Study Space, Robust Technology

WHAT: The Brody Learning Commons building, which connects to the university’s Milton S. Eisenhower Library, opened this month, just in time to be used by new and returning students during the Fall 2012 semester. The building, which provides significant new space for individual and group study, is equipped with the latest learning technology. Its architectural design emphasizes glass walls to admit natural light, high ceilings and a variety of seating and study area options, including a 100-seat quiet reading room. The building is also the new home of the library’s conservation and special collections departments.

WHERE: The Brody Learning Commons is located on the west side of North Charles Street, between 33rd and 34th streets.

WHO: Members of the news media who wish to tour the new building should contact Brian J. Shields, Communications and Marketing Manager for the university’s Sheridan Libraries and University Museums. He may be reached at bshields@jhu.edu, 410-516-8337 (office), or (443) 631-2890 (cell). Reporters who wish to interview Winston Tabb, the Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums, should also contact Shields.

MORE DETAILS: The fact sheet below provides further details about the Brody Learning Commons. A short video focusing on the new building can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL8aUVp5j44.


The Brody Learning Commons: A Fact Sheet

The Sheridan Libraries’ Brody Learning Commons is the kind of 21st century library space that students need, where they can collaborate; research, read and study; tap into electronic resources; and learn to be scholars and critical thinkers. The building is named to honor former Johns Hopkins University president William R. Brody and his wife, Wendy.

Brody Learning Commons

The four-story building, opened in August, connects to the 1964 Milton S. Eisenhower Library on all floors and includes high ceilings and light wells to provide natural light throughout the building. The facility features a robust technology infrastructure.

Many design features, from the ample natural light to room styles and seating options, were informed by rounds of user surveys conducted by the libraries to ensure the building would meet the needs of students and faculty.

The Brody Learning Commons was designed by Shepley Bulfinch and built by Lewis Contractors. It is an energy-efficient building, built according to United States Green Building Council guidelines, and is the first new construction on the university’s Homewood campus to achieve LEED Silver certification.

The facility is open 24/7.

Building Highlights

The Brody Learning Commons is 42,000 square feet and includes more than 500 new seats, increasing the library’s seating capacity by almost a third. Other highlights:

  • 16 flexible group study rooms
    • The walls of group study rooms are covered in “idea paint” to allow the walls to serve as white boards or projection screens
  • Six teaching and seminar rooms
  • Robust technology throughout
    • TeamSpot in various locations to allow students to collaborate from individual laptops or tablets using a shared screen
    • Interactive projectors enabling students to write on walls with interactive pens and save the resulting “documents” to their laptops or flash drives
    • Group study rooms outfitted with equipment to allow students to record themselves practicing presentations
    • Video teleconferencing to allow for distance education or for teleconferenced meetings
    • A pod-based learning classroom for interactive group learning opportunities
    • Group study rooms outfitted with LifeCam cameras and Skype for groups to work with colleagues remotely
  • 100-seat quiet reading room
  • Commissioned art installation in the quiet reading room
    • An Archaeology of Knowledge, by New York artist Mark Dion, is a true Wunderkammer (cabinet or wall of wonders) with more than 500 objects that span millennia and include everything from ancient Roman inscriptions and an early university library card catalog to glass pipettes, miniature books, and a sculpture of Johns Hopkins. The cabinets hold items from all corners of the Johns Hopkins universe and represent a history of the university shown through objects.
  • Visualization Wall
    • 12-foot by 7-foot interactive video display wall, part of a joint research initiative between the Whiting School of Engineering and the Sheridan Libraries designed to explore human-computer interactions and engage students in the creative process of designing applications.
  • 75-seat café operated by The Daily Grind
  • Teaching and research space for the libraries’ Department of Special Collections
    • Faculty and curators teach classes, both undergraduate and graduate, directly from the rare books and manuscripts in our Special Collections. This hands-on approach to teaching and learning puts students into direct contact with material artifacts from the past.
  • Laboratory space for the Department of Conservation and Preservation
    • The internationally renowned department is home to the Heritage Science for Conservation project, a Mellon-funded initiative that sponsors original research conducted by postgrads in areas like chemistry and materials science to discover novel approaches to conserving paper-based collections.

“We always considered ourselves very lucky to have such smart, talented young people as our neighbors. Having a place where students will gather to study and learn named after us feels like we get to keep a piece of Hopkins with us forever.” — Bill and Wendy Brody

“We have aspired to provide a truly transformative learning environment. The Brody Learning Commons will help foster connections among the students and faculty at Hopkins and with the world beyond our campus; it will put our users in touch with the wisdom of the past and give them the tools to realize the promise of the future.” — Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums


About the Sheridan Libraries
Named in 1998 to honor the generosity of R. Champlin and Debbie Sheridan, the Sheridan Libraries include the Brody Learning Commons, the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, the Albert D. Hutzler Reading Room, the John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen, and the George Peabody Library in Mount Vernon Place.

About the Brodys
William R. Brody was the 13th president of Johns Hopkins University. His and his wife Wendy’s time on the Homewood campus, from 1996 through 2008, marked a return to the tradition, lapsed since Milton Eisenhower’s days, of the university president living in Nichols House. For more than a decade, the Brodys were a true part of the Johns Hopkins community, welcoming new students each year at freshman move-in, attending sporting events and concerts, and hosting students for dinner at their home.


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