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Director of Planning & Architecture

  • Industry: Facilities Management
  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Client: Institution - Higher Education
  • Search ID: 17-0301-16

Helbling has been retained by Johns Hopkins University to conduct an executive search to secure a Director of Planning & Architecture (Director). Reporting to the Vice President for Johns Hopkins Facilities & Real Estate (JHFRE), the Director role is a highly visible position that interacts with top level administration of the university in strategic planning, long-range campus planning and development, development of capital projects, space planning, and establishing and maintaining campus design standards and aesthetics.

As Johns Hopkins enters an exciting period of capital investment, the Director is responsible for the stewardship, enhancement and development of distinctive and welcoming campus environments and implementing campus master plans for the Homewood, Peabody, East Baltimore, Washington D.C., Montgomery County, and Belward Farms campuses, and other university properties. The position provides strategic leadership for university initiatives, ensuring alignment between strategic plans, long-range physical planning, and capital project planning.

The Director will be responsible for developing capital facilities projects and preparation of materials for presentation to university leadership and trustees for all facilities and real estate matters. The incumbent also will be responsible for providing effective vision and leadership for space management policies and planning, assuring that facility and space needs are being met, as well as cultivating an appreciation within the university for effective space planning and management.

The Director guides the Planning and Architecture unit in working with capital project sponsors and the JHFRE/Design and Construction unit, providing design consultation and review of the architectural, landscape, and environmental designs, aesthetic, and technical aspects of the project; reviews the project deliverables and submittals through the life of the project to confirm design intent, conformance with planning principles, and adherence to university and local design standards; and coordinates designs with a Design Review Committee of select trustees, university leaders, and appointed committee members for significant major capital projects.

About Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins is America's first research university, founded on the belief that teaching and research are interdependent, and that a modern university must do both well. Nearly 140 years later, Johns Hopkins remains a world leader in both teaching and research, with more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students studying with esteemed faculty members across nine world-class academic divisions. The school overall is ranked in the Top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s best universities, with nationally ranked programs in public health, nursing, medicine, engineering, education, and several others.

Johns Hopkins University is based in Baltimore, but has 10 divisions spread out across 10 campuses on three continents. There are four Baltimore campuses: Homewood, where the schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Education are located; East Baltimore, home to the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, as well as the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital; the Peabody campus, site of the Peabody Institute, the nation's oldest conservatory; and Harbor East, the waterfront home of the Carey Business School. The School of Advanced International Studies is based in Washington, D.C., about an hour south of Baltimore, but also has campuses in Italy and China. Additionally, Johns Hopkins has regional satellite campuses in Montgomery County, Maryland, a burgeoning biotech hub north of Washington, D.C.; and in Columbia, Maryland, located just outside Baltimore. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the nation's largest university-affiliated research center, is based in nearby Laurel, Maryland.

Essential Job Functions

At Johns Hopkins University, the Director of Planning & Architecture:

  • Supports university strategic planning and leads campus, district, site, and space planning efforts whether undertaken by Planning and Architecture or by outside consultants.
  • Leads initiatives of strategic importance to the university such as improvements to the university capital project planning process, development of design standards, efficient use of space, leveraging capital resources, and integrating technology in the planning and project development process. Leads and/or supports a variety of functional plans for improvements to classrooms, laboratories, and student life spaces.
  • Assumes responsibility for capital project planning process and developing presentations and reports for the Trustees Capital Subcommittee relative to planning, design and construction activity, as well as other topics of strategic importance.
  • Is responsible for preparation of materials and presents findings to the President and the President's Senior Planning Group for alignment of proposed capital projects with the university's mission, priorities and financial capacity.
  • Works with university senior leadership, deans, divisional business officers, department chairs, faculty, researchers, trustees, donors, and JHFRE directors on all matters related to planning and design of the physical environment.
  • Recommends consultants for university planning and collaborates with JHFRE/Design & Construction on design efforts and the designer/contractor selection process.
  • Prepares materials and presents planning and capital project reports to community groups, regulatory agencies, donors, and funding agencies.
  • Provides leadership in improving space utilization and efficiency and responsible for the Space Allocation Committee and accurate accounting of space use for cost recovery.
  • Works with JHU Design & Construction units during the development and construction of capital projects. Responsible for adherence to university and local design standards and is the technical authority for code compliance to include life safety, accessibility, and similar requirements.

Scope of Responsibility

  • University Capital Plan.
  • Capital project compliance with Trustees Capital Subcommittee process.
  • Design oversight and review for major capital projects.
  • Formulating strategic approach for planning, design, and construction projects.
  • Establishing and monitoring university design standards and enforcement of building code and technical facility requirements.
  • Supervising staff including architects, planners, and landscape architects, as well as administrative staff.


  • Supervision of professional and administrative staff.
  • Management of Planning and Architecture annual budget.
  • Trustee delegated authority to execute planning and professional contracts up to $500K in value.
  • Represents university on regulatory matters pertaining to planning, design, and construction projects.
  • Represents university with community constituents on matters pertaining to planning, design, and construction projects.


  • Exchanges routine, non-routine, and sensitive information with leadership, trustees, donors, staff, colleagues at peer institutions, vendors, community groups, and regulatory agencies using good oral and exemplary written communication skills, tact, and persuasion as appropriate.

Education and Licensing

  • Bachelor's degree in Architecture from a regionally accredited college or university required.
  • Professional license to practice architecture in the state of Maryland, or the ability to obtain it within one (1) year of employment, is required.


  • Ten (10) to fifteen (15) years architectural design work required. Planning experience may be substituted for a portion of the design work with demonstrated design technical expertise.
  • Five (5) years supervising professional design and/or planning staff required.
  • Experience in higher education, institutional setting, or non-profit environment is preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Strategic thinker with proven planning and organizational skills, and the ability to incorporate larger university vision into master planning, design, and other departmental activities.

  • Ability to balance big picture planning with detailed hands-on activities, and the ability to toggle between the two.

  • Experience and gravitas to work with outside architectural firms, donors, and trustees in representing the university and its aesthetics.

  • Ability to foster a collaborative, inclusive, collegial, and consensus-building relationship at all levels of the university based on competence, trust, and respect.

  • Superior written and oral communication skills, including the ability to present complex material in a useful and understandable fashion to diverse audiences.

  • Knowledge of the design process for capital projects, an understanding of different methods of construction delivery and its impact on schedule and cost, and experience with developing accurate project cost budgets.

  • Understanding of the impact of project proposals on campus infrastructure, utility capacity, support facilities, energy use, etc.

  • Committed to the mission of the university, customer service, and best practices in capital planning.

  • Ability to produce accurate and timely complex materials.

  • Flexibility to work with last minute changes.

  • Ability to build, input, query, and configure database information.

Physical Requirements

  • Ability to remain stationary for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to operate a computer and/or other office equipment on a frequent basis.
  • Must frequently communicate with others and exchange accurate information.
  • Ability to move about the office and campus.

This description is a general statement of required major duties and responsibilities performed on a regular and continuous basis. It does not exclude other duties as assigned.

How to be Considered or Make a Nomination

To express your interest in this position, learn additional information, and/or to nominate a qualified candidate, please contact Helbling & Associates' Managing Consultant, Wendy Zang, at (724) 935-7500 x116 or via email at

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