The SNF Agora Building

The new SNF Agora Building will be a Place for Research, Public Engagement, and Collaboration

The SNF Agora Institute draws its namesake from the ancient Athenian agora, a central space in the city that was a place of open conversation and debate for all citizens. Our new building on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus will pay homage to the ancient Athenian agora by creating a space for civic engagement and informed, inclusive dialogue in the modern era.

This September, we unveiled early plans for the building, which is being designed by world-renowned architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop to be a portrait of the institute, telling the story of our work and serving as a portal for the community to connect with us.

The design draws from principles of openness, accessibility, and harmony with nature. Two “floating” glass cubes will create transparency between the inside of the building and the broader world outside. One side of the building will support our scholarly work, housing faculty offices, labs, classrooms, meeting and seminar rooms, and co-working spaces. The other will be a gathering place with several agora-like spaces for conferences, speaker presentations, art exhibitions, and other events.

The new building, which will be LEED certified and landscaped to reflect the natural environment of the mid-Atlantic region, promises to be an iconic structure for Johns Hopkins and for Baltimore.


In September 2018, the SNF Agora Institute hosted an event on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus in which Renzo Piano and President Ronald J. Daniels discussed how the new building would support the Institute’s mission. “The SNF Agora Institute seeks to reinvent the ancient Athenian Agora for the 21st century,” Daniels said. “The institute will serve as a forum for scholarly research, the robust exchange of ideas, and for sharing strategies to repair civic discourse and strengthen democracy in America and around the globe.”