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Photo by Will Kirk/

Since Johns Hopkins undergraduates spend so much time slaving away in labs for classes or research or just because they don’t have anything else better to do on a Friday night, it’s only fitting that those labs be beautiful. Hopkins has always had nice facilities, but this new 105,000 square-foot facility really takes the cake.

Anyone who’s walked through the Homewood campus over the past year has probably noticed the massive construction enterprise taking place just south of the gym. It seems as though all the clamor and construction was worth it, though; the building, which is scheduled to open in September and will house the school’s chemistry, biology, biophysics, neuroscience, and psychological/brain sciences departments, is both cutting-edge and easy on the eyes.

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Photo by Will Kirk/

“The existing labs were older, with most below ground with no natural light,” Martin Kajic, the university’s facilities project manager, told the Hopkins Hub. “And the flow of the labs was not ideal. Students were crammed in and often had to place book bags at their feet. These new labs offer better circulation, better sightlines to faculty and teacher assistants, and they’re safer.”

In constructing the building, emphasis was placed on creating an open layout that will encourage cross-disciplinary partnerships and research. The equipment is all new and fancy; there’s even “an instrument core with a nuclear magnetic resonance component,” which sounds impressive even though I’m not really sure what it is. And in keeping with contemporary green sensibilities, the building uses 40 percent less energy than most equivalent labs; its LEED certification is still pending, but the school expects it to be ranked either Silver or Gold.

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Photo by Will Kirk/

And provisions were even made for non-learning time — an atrium in the building’s center features a coffee bar, rocking chairs, and plenty of soft couches for students who might have to spend the night.