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nEWS REPORT
 







 

Mt. Washington: The New Destination


The Mt. Washington campus with its signature Octagon Building.
Almost exactly three years after Johns Hopkins bought five buildings on 68 acres straddling the Baltimore City-Baltimore County line just west of I-83, this choice parcel of land, now known as Johns Hopkins at Mt. Washington, is more than 90 percent leased or committed.

When the last big tenant, Information Technology @ Johns Hopkins, settles in this spring, more than 900 employees, almost equally divided between the University and Health System, will be based here.

“So far, everyone has had a good experience,” says Jim Callahan, senior director of Johns Hopkins Real Estate, which oversees asset management and day-to-day operations at Mt. Washington. “The offices are spacious and newly renovated, and the grounds and amenities speak for themselves.”

Hopkins entities are often referred to as campuses (the East Baltimore campus, the Bayview campus), but this is the genuine article, a bona-fide college campus that with its manicured lawns, gardens, ponds and fountains was for more than 100 years home to Mount St. Agnes College for Women.

When the property was acquired by insurers USF&G (subsequently St. Paul Cos.), it was transformed into a data processing and training and development center. Johns Hopkins acquired it in April 2003. It leases the office building on the north part of the property to third-party tenants. The four buildings on the south side—400,000 square feet in all—are occupied by Hopkins tenants.

Mt. Washington is still, in part, a conference center, and it has the feel of a retreat. A third party, Aramark, manages the conference business, leasing meeting rooms and overnight guest rooms in the Mt. Washington Conference Center and Octagon Building to various organizations, including Johns Hopkins affiliates.


The East Baltimore shuttle

Employees here take advantage of the amenities: a cafeteria, café, gym and the grounds, of course. Some join the comprehensive fitness center, complete with a padded walking track and lunchtime exercise classes.

Even with all the perks, the Mt. Washington move has been hard on some, for despite an accessible location near I-83, I-695 and Light Rail, it has occasionally meant longer commutes. Others have said they miss colleagues and the hustle and bustle of East Baltimore.

But the recent addition of shuttle service to East Baltimore has made this suburban outpost seem more like part of the whole. (Another shuttle travels to Homewood’s Shriver Hall; a campus shuttle runs regularly into Mt. Washington Village.)

And new tenants are giving Mt. Washington rave reviews. In the winter, 33 faculty and staff from Emergency Medicine’s research, special operations and CEPAR divisions moved in. “Some were a little worried because we are the only clinical department working off campus. But now,” says administrator Jim Scheulen, amid plasma-screened, totally wired quarters, “you can barely drag me downtown.”

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The Octagon Building interior
Soon after Johns Hopkins acquired Mt. Washington, the search was on for likely tenants. “Who had space expiring in third-party leases? Who needed to expand? Who could come out and take advantage of the amenities? These were the types of things we considered,” says Callahan, “along with the demographics of the employee groups.”

HopkinsOne, just starting up, was the first tenant. Then the Center for Talented Youth, with 235 employees, moved into the top two floors of McAuley Hall. JHM’s Center for Information Services, a 24/7 data center, occupies the ground floor of the Davis Building. Smaller groups—the Health System’s legal office (HIPAA compliance), JH Mail Distribution and JHM International—followed. There’s also a branch of TIAA-CREF, and according to Callahan, the JH Federal Credit Union is considering a branch location here.

In late October, Medical Archives and its staff, including seven full-time employees, student interns and volunteers, moved into 11,500 square feet on the second floor of McAuley. Archives had been bursting at the seams in just 4,200 square feet at 2024 E. Monument St. The official repository for the major records of Hopkins Hospital and the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health, Archives had much of its holdings—personal paper collections, historic photographs, biographical files, and several thousand objets d’art and artifacts, including a major portrait collection—in storage.

“At 2024, we were all crammed in. We were organized, but it was physically challenging to get to some things,” says archivist Nancy McCall. Now, more of the collection is housed on site. Visiting researchers enjoy a spacious reading/reference room. Staff have plenty of space for conferencing and processing and receiving materials. In the stacks are row after row of shelves containing grey cardboard cases, Hollinger boxes, all neatly organized and bar-coded for easy searching.


Emergency Medicine's conference room
In March, IT@ Johns Hopkins will begin moving from JH at Eastern to Mt. Washington. When the move is complete on April 21, more than 300 IT employees, including a small group from Radiology, will have settled in on the first floor of Davis.

On the whole, says Donna Poyer, IT administrator overseeing much of the move, “we haven’t had many complaints. Some are worried about their commutes and new traffic patterns, but there’s always the fear of the unknown. It’s a great campus, and we believe that once they get out there, they’ll be happy.”

—Anne Bennett Swingle

 

 

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