September 7, 2010

A blue-ribbon day for Gilman Hall

Doors officially open to flagship building after three-year renovation

Hundreds of faculty, staff, students and friends of the university gathered on the Keyser Quad on Aug. 30, the first day of the fall semester, to witness the grand reopening of Gilman Hall, the Homewood campus’s flagship building that underwent three years of top-to-bottom renovations.

Guests were welcomed by President Ronald J. Daniels and Katherine S. Newman, the new James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Daniels, standing at a podium on the building’s refurbished front portico, heralded a new day for the Krieger School’s humanities departments, which are now all housed in what he called the “beating heart of our university.”

“Today we understand and we celebrate the central role that the humanities play in exploring, explicating and illuminating society’s most challenging and most important conundra,” Daniels said. “At a time of rapid change, our moorings in the humanities—who we are, what we value and how we understand beauty and wisdom and express our deepest yearnings—are more, and not less, important.”

Newman, who had performed her first official duties as dean just the night before, joked in the opening of her remarks that she wished her office resided in this “beautiful” building. She then spoke of the great scholarship that has transpired within these walls, and of the great scholarship and understanding to come.

“We are here to celebrate the brilliant architecture, the capacious space, the community that will emerge in this building, but first and foremost we are here to celebrate the people,” she said. “The people of the past, the present and generations of students to come who have the extraordinary pleasure of working and learning in this building.”

Following their remarks, Daniels and Newman cut a blue ribbon to commemorate the event and then flung open the doors for visitors to walk the gleaming halls. The open house included refreshments in the building’s new atrium space, tours and seminars.

The $73 million renovation has transformed the 1915 building into a modern academic facility while preserving its architectural integrity and historic spaces. The building has new offices, meeting spaces, state-of-the-art classrooms and 14,000 additional feet of usable space that includes a museum for the university’s archaeological collection.