Construction, construction as far as the eye can see: University hosts fifth master planning session

On Wednesday night, when most students were boarding planes, trains, and automobiles to go home for Easter break, the University held Planning 203 in the ICC Auditorium. Planning 203 revealed new possibilities for future academic space, sustainability initiatives, construction project updates, and topics of future Vox posts.

Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey and Provost Bob Groves outlined options for space that could accommodate new academic programs, including building on Harbin Patio and bringing significant renovations to the Reiss Science Building.

“The underutilized Reiss space is a key focus of opportunity,” Groves said. “It relates to … our desire to grow the sciences, our desire to be a more prominent as a research university.”

The University is also investigating the area south of Regents as possible graduate student space. Presumably, this means building something new there, unless they expect graduate students to work right in that muddy field “green space.”

Under the 2010 Campus Plan, interdisciplinary graduate programs will bring more graduate students, who need more space close to faculty and for their research. “In my opinion, this campus was designed for undergraduate students,” Groves said.

Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15), GUSA president and one of the few students present, asked whether building on Regents lawn comes at a sacrifice of on-campus green space.

“We’re trying to green up other spaces,” Morey said. Opportunities for “greening” include the quad inside the Old Jesuit Residence, the green roof atop the Northeast Triangle dorm, and the hospital parking lot in front of Darnall Hall. In cooperation with MedStar, the hospital parking lot could be moved underground.

An attendant stated that Georgetown was not conducive for graduate student life, and asked how the University was improving upon that aspect.

” Right now, with the constraints [of land on-campus], we don’t see the near-term prospect of a new graduate housing complex on-campus,” Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said, adding that updates on graduate housing “off-campus but nearby” will be released soon.

Audrey Stewart, Office of Sustainability director, announced that her office was looking into installing solar panels on Leo’s, after a successful student-driven initiative that installed solar panels on six townhouses last spring.

Having gathered input from public workshops and various stakeholders, from the past six to eight months, the Office of Sustainability plans to release a draft campus sustainability plan to realize objectives such as the University’s sustainability commitments, which include cutting carbon emissions by 50 percent of 2006 levels by 2020. Stewart expects that a final plan will be reviewed and approved by the end of the fiscal year.

Morey closed the presentation with updates on how the main campus was about to become construction project wonderland.

Northeast Triangle dorm construction will begin in summer 2014, depending on when the University obtains the construction permits, and will continue for two years. Morey noted that Reiss renovations may begin during that time as well.

Renovation of the Old Jesuit Residence begins in May with hazardous materials abatement and ends in summer 2015. Containing a variety of suites and apartments, it will host 160 beds for upperclassmen. The total cost of the renovation will be $25 million.

Old Jesuit Residence renovation will work with a very tight time-frame. “This is a very fast-track project, and we’re not even at design documents yet,” Morey said.

The Intercollegiate Athletic Center will begin construction this summer as well and will be completed in two years. The University is also building a new utility plant to reliably provide chilled water to the new buildings.

Finally, a student asked whether the University would host another forum when students are actually on campus. Morey said that the slides and audio from Planning 203 would be posted online for student access.

Photo: Georgetown Voice/Kenneth Lee

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