Yesterday evening, Georgetown University Student Association hosted a town hall meeting between students, the architectural firm ikon 5, and administrators to see the preliminary drawings and concepts of the New South Student Center. ikon 5 stated that the goal for completion is the fall of 2014.
Although not a final plan, the drawings showed an 11,500 sq ft ‘living room’, with a bar at one end, broken up into three sections by clusters of small study spaces. Adjoining the living room will be a smoothie and coffee shop run by the Corp. The pathway behind New South which leads past Riverside Lounge and into Village A is to become a terrace. A ballroom dining able to seat 150 for dinner and 360 for a presentation is part of the plan.
Some students raised concerns about where student groups using space in New South, especially the storage areas, would be relocated. Todd Olson, Vice President of Student Affairs, addressed these concerns by reiterating that it’s too early to be bringing up questions.
“From the start of the feasibility study there was an acknowledgement this is a serious need in a lot of ways as one we need to keep improving on,” Olson said. “But doing that right in this building would pretty quickly squelch the hope for this to be a living room.”
Also in response to this concern, GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ‘13) said: “We wanted to make sure that this didn’t become a Leavey Center.”
ikon 5, the firm designing the center, laid out the main goals of the project. First is to create a center for University life. The space is to have a ‘unique character’ and remain flexible, while maximizing program space. These spaces will be for “casual assembly and lounge space, individual and group study space, multi-purpose space dedicated to the students, and dining and bar space” said Joe Tattoni, an ikon 5 architect.
“There is a small arts component to this which include two dance studios and some music practice rooms,” Tattoni said. Later on in the discussion, he added that these studios will be smaller than those currently in New South. “Not hugely smaller, but slightly smaller.”
Students offered ideas on incorporating elements of Georgetown’s architecture in the interior design of some of the space. “In previous presentations we’ve focused a lot on what you have here on campus.” Tattoni said. “Our intention is to build on that. So that it looks like it is a part of the place, but is new and fresh, and it’s the next chapter in the life of the University.”
Some students raised concerns about where student groups using space in New South, especially the storage areas, would be relocated. “From the start of the feasibility study there was an acknowledgement this is a serious need in a lot of ways as one we need to keep improving on,” Olson said. “But doing that right in this building would pretty quickly squelch the hope for this to be a living room.”
When other students brought up concerns during the meeting, both Gustafson and Olson worked to explain that these thoughts were premature. When a student asked about a plan to move students out of New South before the building begins, Olson responded that an “interim transition plan” would come together next spring. “In combination with our colleagues in University Facilities and Auxiliary Services we are starting that conversation about Leavey,” Olson said. “So there are two conversations. The interim use; some of it might be Leavey, it might be others places, you know – creative solutions for a year. The Leavey conversation is connected to the idea of building a new residence hall.”
At the end of the day, the town hall meeting was a chance for students to see the plans, but not necessarily discuss the implementation. “I think the main concern to get this started is to finish the design,” Gustafson said after the meeting. “Probably come November, December there will be much more intensive discussions about what to do when the time comes to interrupt student life.”
Photo by Georgetown University