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Ralph S. O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being Project


Project Description

Built in 2002 the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center serves as the primary facility on Johns Hopkins University historic Homewood Campus for fitness programs, recreational sports, and experiential education activities.

The late Ralph S. O’Connor, ’51, is a Johns Hopkins University graduate, trustee emeritus, university presidential counselor, and a recipient of the university's President's Medal for exemplary service. Mr. O’Connor has a distinguished history of philanthropic contributions to Johns Hopkins University, including the donation that enabled the original construction of the O’Connor Recreation Center and an additional gift to fund a significant expansion of the rec center's physical space as well as its programming, with plans for mindfulness classes, restorative yoga, and other offerings that focus on student well-being. He has endowed a scholarship for undergraduates in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, where an endowed professorship in biology also bears his name. Mr. O’Connor is a steadfast advocate for supporting the important role of athletics, intramural competition, and physical fitness fulfillment in the Johns Hopkins community.

In 2014 and again in 2017 the university conducted feasibility studies examining scenarios for adding to and enhancing the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center’s cardio, weightlifting, flexible programming, wellness, and social interaction functions. The design goals suggested by the study and established for the project include:

• Make the best practical use of the available site to provide a maximized net area dedicated to weightlifting, cardio workout, and movement fitness.

• Increase the O’Connor Recreation Center’s capability to energize the JHU community experience, provide spaces and ambiance that promote collegiality, connectivity and opportunity for socialization throughout.

• Develop and test options for incorporating, and or optimizing the location of JHU’s wellness programming and Johns Hopkins University Athletics department administration in the O’Connor Recreation Center.

Proposed solutions were developed to the conceptual design level and estimates of construction costs were performed both by a third party estimator and by a construction manager. The two costs estimates were reconciled and form the basis for the conceptual project budget presented to the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees for design approval in the fall of 2017.

Shortly thereafter, MJMA + GWWO Architects were selected and are currently providing design services for the project. In 2018 the university partnered with the Gilbane Building Company for pre-construction and construction phase services to execute the building of the project. The project includes selective renovations to the existing building and a new addition totaling approximately 30,000 square feet of improvements to the facility.

The new new addition sports a dynamic shape, modern zinc cladding, and affords a grade-level entryway to the heart of the building, providing more centralized access to all functions. New and expanded program spaces will allow multiple classes to be held simultaneously, as well as more classes offered in the early evening. F45, an innovative, high-intensity group workout that is fast, fun and results-driven, will enjoy an enlarged studio, with improved cooling and ventilation. Expanded cardio and weight training areas will provide users with better access to those existing functions, as will the addition of a new synthetic turf functional training space. There will also be areas completely dedicated to wellness, and a new café. Where it faces the Bufano Sculpture Garden and the Undergraduate Teaching Labs, the facility will utilize a transparent skin to allow the users of the facility to experience views to the exterior environment while allowing those outside views into the building, displaying the vibrant, activated spaces. Exterior site improvements include an outdoor programming plaza, improved lighting, landscaping, and a seating area.






Rendering of renovated and addition spaces.

Project Schedule

The project is scheduled to start in February 2020 and complete in the fall of 2021.


Facts, Figures and FAQ

Will the building remain open during construction?

Yes the building will remain open during construction. The existing entry to the O’Connor building will be closed for construction. The entry into the O’Connor building will be facilitated by way of the White Athletic Center. Please refer to the O’Connor project exterior Pedestrian & Site Plan for helpful information and diagrams of the site.

Will activities and building functions be impacted by the construction?

Some functions will be temporarily relocated during the construction. The cardio and weight training areas will be housed on the gymnasium floor until the projects completion. Please refer to the O'Connor project Cardio Weight Training Equipment Relocation Plan

How much noise will the construction cause?

The work will involve noisy and disruptive activities normally associated with a project of the proposed scale. Especially noisy and disruptive work will be scheduled for off peak building operational hours.

How much will the project cost?

The project budget is $27 million dollars.

Will sidewalk access be blocked?

In some instances existing sidewalks will be closed so that construction can occur in those areas. Alternate paths will be provided and the building will remain fully accessible. Please refer to the O’Connor project exterior Pedestrian & Site Plan for helpful information and diagrams of the site.

An interior pedestrian plan can be accessed; O'Connor project interior Pedestrian Plan


Project Team

The Johns Hopkins Office of Facilities & Real Estate is responsible for managing the project.  Please contact them should you have any questions.

  • Chuck Hilseberg, Sr. Design & Construction Project Manager: 443-997-3732 or 

  • Jim Peach, Associate Director Design & Construction: 443-604-0655 or



Johns Hopkins University
Facilities & Real Estate
3910 Keswick Rd. Suite N3100
Baltimore, MD 21211
443.997.5302 / 443.997.3737