Real Estate

Johns Hopkins University officially purchases former Newseum building in D.C.

A rendering of the proposed changes Johns Hopkins University plans to make to the former Newseum building in Washington. Hopkins officially purchased the building Monday.

Johns Hopkins University has officially acquired the building that once housed the Newseum, a Washington, D.C., museum focused on journalism and the freedom of the press.

Hopkins announced in January 2019 that it was purchasing the Newseum building, and closed on the property Monday, according to a university news release. Hopkins purchased the building for $302.5 million.


The university plans to move all of its D.C.-based academic programs into the building and make some renovations along the way.

Design plans indicate that part of the museum’s facade, which is engraved with the words of the First Amendment, will be removed, and the building’s entrance will be relocated. The Newseum closed its doors in December, and its owner, the Freedom Forum, announced that it planned to search for a new home.


Some internal demolition will begin as soon as next month, a Hopkins spokesperson wrote in an email, but there will not be any work on the exterior of the building for “quite some time.”

“Everyone is waiting to see how the science evolves around COVID-19 in the long term, so while everyone is thinking about what we may need to change, there are no drastic changes being currently drawn or penciled for this asset,” Mitch Bonanno, the university’s chief real estate officer, said in a statement.

Hopkins received a donation for the project from alumnus Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president this year. The university will also finance the project through the sale of its properties on Massachusetts Avenue, which are assessed at about $104 million, according to a Hopkins news release.

The Evening Sun

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The university has suspended all capital projects over $100,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but construction on the building will take place because it’s supported by donor money and funds that will come from the university’s sale of its other D.C. properties, Monday’s news release said.

The new space will be anchored by The School of Advanced International Studies, and will also include space for the university’s other programming in Washington, including courses on applied economics, communications and global security, and services for students.

The Pennsylvania Avenue facility will also provide a D.C. home base for “every academic division” at the Baltimore university, according to Monday’s news release.

“Through public events, engagement, and convenings, the university will continue to dedicate the remarkable space to informing the public and furthering free expression as well as the open and robust exchange of ideas,” the release stated.

Several companies are working on the planned renovations, including Ennead Architects, the original architect for the building, according to the Hopkins news release. The design plans also include building systems modifications geared toward sustainability and floor plate changes that will increase square footage.


Discussions about the property’s future design have taken place throughout the past year, said John Falcicchio, D.C.‘s chief of staff and acting deputy mayor for planning and economic development. The design plans have been approved by relevant authorities, Monday’s release stated.

“Johns Hopkins has been an enthusiastic partner, with significant commitments to local hiring, local businesses, and educational access,” Falcicchio said.