University unveils latest details on Georgetown’s newest dorms
On Tuesday night, University administrators and representatives from Ayers Saint Gross discussed interiors for the renovation of the Old Jesuit Residence and project updates for the still-yet-to-be-built Northeast Triangle in the swanky new Healey Family Student Center.
Jason Wilcoxon, associate principal for Ayers Saint Gross, presented interior design plans for the renovated Old Jesuit Residence. Because the building has high ceilings, as high as 16 feet, the architect firm decided to created lofted units in addition to traditional semi-suite and apartment units, producing a separated social and sleeping area in each bedroom.
“You can stand in the loft; that’s intentional, but if you’re sitting down, you can reach up and stretch – at least I can reach up and stretch – without being anywhere close to touching the ceiling,” Wilcoxon said. “It’s really meant to be a sleeping platform. It has lighting and the ability to read and plug and play … The idea is that you can have some privacy.”
Of the 148 beds the four-floor residential levels of the renovated building will provide, 44 of them will be in suites, and the rest in apartment units. The entire fourth floor will be semi-suite units that resemble rooms in Copley Hall and will have a lounge that has access to a roof terrace. The apartment units will contain a compact kitchenette with a microwave. Some residential units at the ends of the building will have a balcony overlooking the Potomac. All rooms will contain dimmable LED lighting.
The former dining hall will become a social space for students to congregate and hold social events. Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, said that the University is working with campus ministry to turn the existing chapel in the building into a contemplative space, but has no plans to make it into a consecrated Catholic chapel.
The entire building will become a new upperclassmen living and learning community, which will aim to honor Jesuit values. “Students will be able apply to the community in groups, and then there will be a selection process like we do with other buildings,” Director of Residential Education Ed Gilhool told Vox. “Students who choose to live in this building will … [have demonstrated] contributions to campus that honor the Georgetown tenets.”
Lydia Brown (COL’ 15), GUSA undersecretary for disability affairs, expressed “cautious” optimism that the Old Jesuit Residence plans and the redesigned Library Walk had incorporated accessibility features.
“[University administrators] both mentioned that this project will improve our compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act,” she said. “I prefer to emphasize that we need to move beyond compliance. We’re not actually promoting a cultural shift so that we value access and inclusion, rather than thinking, ‘We need to do this because we could … be legally liable if we don’t do this.'”
Tours of the site for students are being planned for October, and construction on the interiors will begin in the spring semester. Jodi Ernst, an architect at University Facilities & Student Housing, spoke on the Northeast Triangle. Each floor will contain a large communal kitchen, a lounge, and a study room; the seventh floor study will have a connected patio. All the rooms will also have a microfridge included.
The construction also includes the walkway behind Reiss Science Building. The University will install wooden benches, tables, chairs, new lighting, and foliage to create a student plaza integrated with the Northeast Triangle Dorm residence and to hide Reiss’ dated architecture before the ageing building is renovated in the future.
“We’re not actually touching Reiss,” she told Vox. “We’re trying to improve it with … some camouflaging of the most offensive features, like the grilles. We’re trying really hard to just make it go away.”
Kevin O’ Brien S.J., vice-president for mission and ministry, will bless the Northeast Triangle site on Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. Trenching of the site of the site will begin at the earliest on Sept. 28, requiring the closure of the Leavey bridge and the walkway behind Reiss Science Building. Excavations will begin in January, a tower crane will be installed in February, and structural concrete will be poured for the eight-story building in March.
Perhaps what concerns Henle residents, some of whom live directly adjacent to the site, the most is construction noise and pollution, which New South residents suffered from last year. Ernst said that noise abatement and pollution controls are built into the construction contracts.
“I don’t imagine it is going to be nearly as loud [as the Healey Center construction],” she said. “We’re not doing demolition, we’re not jackhammering … we’re not doing pile-driving, so I think we got lucky with the site conditions.”
Photo: Kenneth Lee/Vox Populi