Johns Hopkins wants to help pave the way for a "research
city" in Montgomery County, Md., that would rival top-flight
facilities in Palo Alto, Calif., Cambridge, Mass., and around
the globe. The university has outlined its intention in what
is known as Vision 2030, a plan to create a 600-acre
world-class science community in the Shady Grove area, which
is located along the Interstate 270 corridor. While Johns
Hopkins will play a pivotal role in the site's development,
the Vision 2030 project is a collaborative effort that
involves all relevant stakeholders from academia, business,
the community and state and local governments.
The project would encompass the Shady Grove Life Sciences
Center, where the JHU
Montgomery County Campus is located, and the university's
planned Belward Research Campus.
The 108-acre Belward Research Campus will be a key component
of the project. Located less than a mile from the Montgomery
County Campus, the new campus will incorporate a mixture of
education, business and government facilities that will work
together to further scientific discovery and translational
research. JHU plans to build nearly 5 million square feet of
research space on the site.
"We are trying to create something new here for applied and
translational research," said Elaine Amir, executive director
for Johns Hopkins Montgomery County and the project
representative from the Provost's Office. "We envision a
global center that will draw people from as far away as China
and India. It will be more than just a collection of
buildings; it will be a community where scientists can
interact with one another and be part of a bigger
Johns Hopkins acquired the Belward property in January 1989
from Elizabeth Banks, a former elementary school teacher
whose family, through illness, forged a strong relationship
with physicians from The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The
university originally acquired 138 acres, but in September
1997, with Banks' approval, sold 30 acres to Montgomery
Banks lived on the property until she died in 2005, at which
point the university began in earnest to re-evaluate its
decade-old development plan.
David McDonough, senior director of development oversight for
Johns Hopkins Real Estate, said that it became clear early on
that to build a true world-class research community, Johns
Hopkins would need to partner with the greater community and
look beyond the Belward Research Campus.
"Other world-class research centers, particularly in Asia,
are being planned and built on a completely different scale.
Biopolos in Singapore, for example, is about the size of
downtown Baltimore," McDonough said. "We are working from an
area of strength, however. The Baltimore- Washington region
has the largest concentration of scientists in the country;
quite frankly, the world. With Vision 2030, we wanted to take
advantage of this and create a world-class research
Montgomery County currently has the nation's third-highest
concentration of biotechnology firms and is the world's
largest center for gene research. The county also boasts a
concentration of 19 federal research and regulatory agencies,
such as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and
In December 2007, Vision 2030 project leaders began to
solicit community feedback and start the process of creating
a master plan. To date, three informal community meetings and
one two-day workshop have been held so that university
officials could outline the project to stakeholders, who
could ask questions and share concerns.
On Feb. 21, the Montgomery County Campus hosted a Design
Principles Presentation where community members were invited
to share their input for a concept plan for the project.
"We had homeowners, property owners and others with a vested
interest," Amir said. "We asked them what they would like to
see here, not just in terms of research but what community
services they would want to have."
McDonough said that project leaders are currently working on
transportation and zoning issues. The project could create 20
million to 30 million square feet of development space and
attract roughly 40,000 to 60,000 new people to the area
during the next 25 years. With that in mind, McDonough said
that infrastructure is key to making this project a
"There needs to be more housing, and an effective
transportation network for those who will be coming here in
the morning and leaving in the evening," he said. "That means
a mass transit system and a new road network. This is what we
are working on now with state and county officials."
McDonough said that the current goal is to present a concept
plan sometime in late April or early May. The first draft of
a master plan would be made available in May or June.
Following zoning approval, the master plan would be presented
to elected officials in late 2008 or early 2009.
If all goes according to plan, McDonough said that the
project could be approved by mid-2009 with actual
construction commencing later that year.