Johns Hopkins University Ralph S. O’Connor Center for Recreation & Well-Being

Baltimore, MD

Gymnasium, indoor running track, program rooms, functional training space, cardio, weights
Lobby, meeting room, café, lounge
Designed in compliance with the International Green Construction Code
Managing Firm: GWWO Architects; Design Architect: MJMA
Johns Hopkins University
Full Design Services, Sustainable Design, Cost Estimating, Construction Administration, Building Information Modeling

A comprehensive renovation and addition reimagined the Ralph S. O’Conner Center for Recreation & Well-Being, the primary facility for fitness programs, recreational sports, and experiential education activities on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus.

View from North Gate, Before
View from North Gate, Before
View from North Gate, After
View from North Gate, After

The project simultaneously enhances the cardio, weightlifting, and flexible program spaces of the center while giving new emphasis to social interaction and wellness. The design creates innovative opportunities for meeting, gathering, and viewing through new experiences of space, light, and nature, based on a holistic conception of health that integrates social, mental, and physical well-being.

Wrapping around the east and north sides of the old gymnasium, the addition’s curtain wall and zinc-clad angled form complements the foursquare red brick heritage that dominates on campus while it also confirms the dynamic image of the University with architecture that is contextual, alive, and connective to actively contribute to the unity and vitality of the campus environment.

Openness and connectivity are the governing principles of the design. The main entrance on the north façade presents a modern identity towards the campus’s North Gate and features expanses of glazing over two levels and a long floating porch canopy. Inside, passive and active spaces interact with one another and with the outdoors by means of views and access. The program’s north and east orientations allow visitors stunning views of the verdant and serene forest garden—whether one is lifting weights, shifting into warrior pose, or simply moving through the building, the sense of well-being is heightened. On the lower level, the original gymnasium is now light-filled, as are the program, cardio, and weight rooms on the upper floors.

The skylit central stair with broad landings is a point of orientation for the whole building and provides places to pause and meet. It also opens to views of the cardio, fitness, and program rooms, to activate interest and social connection across program boundaries. 

The project is designed to be IgCC compliant with sustainable features that include natural daylighting, LED lamping in light fixtures and occupancy sensors for lighting control, high thermal resistance building envelope, and new bicycle parking.


AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Merit Award
AIA Baltimore Design Award
Athletic Business Facility of Merit