Thanks to the planned Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute set for completion in 2022, students at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University will have a respite from demanding studies, with coffee in The Factory and open-air concerts along with a Conversation Cube.
Those are nicknames for parts of the institute, with school officials unveiling a sneak preview of the building, a six-story structure whose lead designer is 81-year-old Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Piano “feels like the building should be a portrait of the institute,” said Elizabeth Smyth, adviser to Hopkins President Ron Daniels, Baltimore Fishbowl reported. “This is about transparency. This is about dialogue. This is about seeing in and seeing out. This is our Agora, our modern campus for the Agora Institute.”
The institute was announced in 2017 after the Stavros Niarchos Foundation committed $150 million to launch an effort with Hopkins to build and staff an academic forum dedicated to “strengthening democracy by improving civic engagement and civil discourse worldwide.” One of its goals is to reinvent the ancient Greek agora, or public gathering place, part of ancient life where critical thinking and dialogue was an essential part of being.