The LaB at Johns Hopkins University

  • area / size 3,200 sqft
  • Completed 2017
  • Buell Kratzer Powell has designed Johns Hopkins University’s late night campus entertainment venue, The LaB, located in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The LaB meets Johns Hopkins students’ need for a crucial “third” space – one that blurs the boundaries between academics and socialization while offering food and beverage options. Located on the ground floor of Homewood Apartments, a university-owned student residence, The LaB blends old and new in a playful take on a science lab. The renovation accentuated existing features of the 50-year-old building while adding technology, flexible furnishings, and a warm, industrial aesthetic.

    Philadelphia-based architecture firm Buell Kratzer Powell, Ltd., (BKP) repurposed existing building features, including an original wood bar back and mosaic tile floor. Exposed brick pairs with new graffiti-pattern tile and a dramatic bubble wall – where changing colored LED lights illuminate bubbling water within. Comfortable lounge and café seating and work tables of varying sizes can be reconfigured for intimate conversations or special events including movie nights and concerts. The flexible layout can also shift to accommodate a portable stage for concerts. Sliding doors divide a large collaboration area into a private meeting room where a custom table with integrated technology, blackboard, and video screen support presentation and strategy sessions. The collaboration area doubles as a video game room with rentable games and controllers for students to enjoy. The LaB extends the gathering space outdoors with two terrace seating areas and a new wood pergola marking the main entrance.

    Open from 7 pm until 2 am, the LaB offers coffee and snacks with special food programming (e.g. Milkshake Monday) added periodically. A touch-screen ordering and cashless pay system reduces queue times, simplifies transactions, and notifies students their orders are ready by text. The university coordinates diverse activities in the venue, from salsa dancing to SuperBowl parties, but primarily leaves the facility open to student-crafted experiences, where the renovation design lends itself to casual conversation, group study, or games.

    The project was the second collaboration between BKP and Bon Appetit Management Company at Johns Hopkins University; the fresh gourmet Charles Street Market was completed in 2013.

    ArchitectBuell Kratzer Powell
    MEP Engineering: Kovacs Whitney & Associates
    Contractor: Kane Construction
    Photography: Jeffrey Totaro