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Robert and Clarice Smith Building at the Wilmer Eye Institute Johns Hopkins University Architect: Ayers Saint Gross Architects and Planners & Wilmot Sanz Inc. Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA Completion: 2009 GFA: 18,800 m2 Photography: Matt Wargo

Lab Office Support area Circulation area Conference room

The Wilmer Eye Institute is a world-renowned department of the Johns Hopkins University Hospital, offering distinguished research, clinical and residency programmes in ophthalmology. The institute’s Smith Building, designed by Ayers Saint Gross in association with healthcare architect Wilmot Sanz, is located adjacent to Hopkins’ historic medical campus in east Baltimore. Opened in 2009, the structure comprises five floors of laboratories to support ophthalmological research and a 2,800-square-metre outpatient surgery centre with seven operating rooms. Its brick architecture harmonises with older campus buildings while creating a contemporary image through crisp surfaces and a sculptural glass bay over the entrance. In a more conventional laboratory building, offices and labs are positioned along the building’s perimeter with lab support spaces placed in the core. This arrangement allows for natural light, but places a barrier between the offices and labs to restrict communication among researchers.

Ground floor plan

In Wilmer’s new Smith building, the core is moved to the exterior wall, and labs and offices are arranged around a five-storey atrium at the heart of the building. This central space encourages interaction among researchers, provideing a large gathering area for lectures and events, and brings daylight into the interior through a skylight and glass walls. Its notable artistic feature is a soaring, stainless-steel sculpture created by Virginia sculptor John Safer, a former Wilmer's patient. Bridges across the atrium connect labs and office suites, while transparent partitions provide views of activities within the building. Meeting rooms near the atrium and staircases and seating areas within its open space further promote a sense of community. Conference rooms within the angular glass bay are oriented towards the domed Wilmer Building on Hopkins’ medical campus to forge visual connections between the new and old parts of the Eye Institute.

First floor plan

3 4 Second floor plan

1. Panorama 2. Entrance 3. Sculptural glass bay over the entrance 4. Façade with signage

Awards: Building Congress & Exchange Craftsmanship Award, 2009 1

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