The D.C. Zoning Commission met Monday night to review proposals for the construction of the Northeast Triangle Dorm and conversion of Ryan and Mulledy Halls into residential spaces. Although all commissioners expressed profuse support, they decided to withhold approval until the University received a response from the Old Georgetown Board, who has not yet commented on the University’s plans.
The meeting began with a presentation of the current proposal by Georgetown Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Augostini. He described how Georgetown had reached “an inflection point” as a result as of the financial crisis, the ongoing technological, and a history of rancorous tensions with neighbors.
As co-chair of the Georgetown Community Partnership – a body formed by the 2010 Campus Plan – Augostini explained how the Partnership catalyzed an improvement in neighbor-University relations: “We realized the issues that separated us were a function of history. We were far more in agreement and had shared objectives.”
These shared objectives included improving Georgetown’s capacity as a residential living and learning campus. So far, these goals have resulted in the two sites now waiting approval at the Zoning meeting, one of which is the Northeast Triangle Dorm.
Principal Sasaki Architect Vinicius Gorgati presented the current plans. The dorm will have an active first floor with workshop spaces, study nooks and a fireplace lounge. The seventh floor boasts a terrace and the eighth an accessible green roof. With the green roof and other features, Sasaki hopes to achieve the Lead Gold certification in energy efficiency.
Augostini closed the presentation with a request for design flexibility in conjunction with proposal approval so that he and his fellows would not have to return to the commission.
The University confirmed today that it has officially tabled the satellite dorm option in favor of renovating the old Jesuit residences, Ryan and Mulledy, for student accommodations in order to satisfy the Campus Plan student housing requirements.
This development marks a departure from the University’s previous stance of hedging and parsing words on the issue. While this does not constitute an absolute moratorium on Georgetown-branded housing off-campus, the administration has decided to commit to alternative options to meet the deadline to add 385 beds on campus by 2015.
“[The University] is now focusing on the Northeast Triangle and Ryan and Mulledy, which they have now confirmed … as their plan … they want to start up an engagement process on design very soon,” said Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14).
Both students and the administration acknowledged the role that student voices played in this decision. “In arriving at this decision, the University carefully considered the input provided by our student body,” Lauralyn Lee, associate vice president of community engagement and strategic initiatives, wrote in an email to Vox. “We heard loud and clear that most students want to live on campus, and are heartened that this view reinforces our planning principle of developing the main campus.”
“This is a big victory for students,” Tisa said. Tisa credited students for remaining engaged and voting in the referendum passed earlier this year.
Zach Singer (SFS ’15), Tisa’s chief of staff and one of the heads of the One Georgetown, One Campus campaign, said, “This is very exciting news … with the help of student input, we’ve arrived at a conclusion that I think most students are happy with.”
At the Northeast Triangle forum last night, Sasaki architects Katia Lucic and Ricardo Dumont unveiled the updated proposal for Georgetown’s next dorm, the original plans which, for some of you, nearly matched Lau’s status as a scar of ugliness on Georgetown’s campus. The two principal architects discussed and fielded questions on the new design, in response to the brutal student commentary from the July forum.
The Northeast Triangle forum is a manifestation of the contentious Campus Plan, which requires Georgetown to house 90 percent of the undergraduate population on campus by 2025. The evening’s presentation explained why the sliver of green across from Reiss is the ideal location for adding 223 beds, inching towards the 385-bed-by-2015 commitment. The University’s goal is to move the concentration of beds on campus from Main Campus (Harbin, VCE, VCW, New South, Village A) to four separate quadrants. The Triangle dorm will add beds to the northernmost quadrant.
Before revealing the improved design, Lucic shared the feedback from the previous forum, where students rated buildings around campus to help the architects find direction. The Hariri Building drew the most positive comments, as it combined both a classic collegiate style and a modern interior. The ICC received less love, as seen in this memorable comment: “Not again…Never again.” The Triangle was labeled as “not Georgetown” and “needs more grass.” Vox could definitely get behind more grass on campus.
This summer, the administration announced that it would be building a dorm across from Reiss, and released drawings of the exterior. There was plenty of backlash, and so in response, students were invited to a forum where the architects and administration would explain their vision, but to no real avail.
In anticipation of the second forum, tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Sellinger Lounge, Vox is conducting a scientific study about the ugliness of the NE Triangle Dorm.
How do you feel about the ugliness of the NE Triangle Dorm?
There is a war on cars in D.C., but only in Georgetown, and only for students.
In a friendly email yesterday, vice president for student affairs/disciplinarian-in-chief Todd Olson officially gave us notice that we can’t park on Georgetown’s campus or on city streets.
“Georgetown University prohibits students from bringing a car to campus, obtaining an on-campus parking pass, and parking a car on neighborhood streets in West Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall Village,” Olson wrote. “When you return to campus this fall, please leave your car at home.”
Students knew that the change was coming after neighborhood leaders and top administrators agreed to it in last summer’s resolution on the 2010 campus plan—without student input. Now, a student parking his or her car on neighborhood streets is a violation of the student code of conduct.
In terms of parking, students—otherwise full citizens and, in fact, voters—are subjected to regulations that adults unaffiliated with the University aren’t. Though students can still park in designated rental spaces off-campus, this incident shows how students take a back seat on certain issues.
GUSA summed it up nicely yesterday on Twitter: “The 2010 Campus Plan agreement, signed without students, bans students from having cars and puts them at fault for causing congestion.”
Students, always the scapegoats.
Update, 9:05 pm: Former GUSA Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) tends to agree with Vox and wanted to add a few things:
First, I think this policy is likely in violation of the DC Human Rights Act. Students are a protected class under the D.C. Human Rights Act (see trait #14), and discrimination by educational institutions is prohibited in the District of Columbia.
Yesterday, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey, and the architects from Sasaki hosted a student forum on the Northeast Triangle Project. The forum was a direct result of student criticism of the Northeast Triangle dorm, to be located in the park in front of Reiss, taking the “Y dis not Healy?” petition, signed by over 700 alumni and current students, into account.
The dorm signals the first step in the Campus Plan commitment to establishing a “living, learning community” at Georgetown, said Todd Olson. GUSA President Nate Tisa, also noted that it was important that the building be something that students are “proud of, not just satisfied with.”
Discussion began with the architects from Sasaki ask students why they what they were so “riled” about. Student responses were numerous and overwhelmingly negative. One student described the concept drawings as “antithetical to Georgetown’s ethos”, stating the building was not “awe-inspiring”.
Others noted that the proposed dorm was in an area of high traffic, thereby making the construction very disruptive to students. Many students questioned the placement of the building, given the numerous alternatives. Another key area of concern was the loss of the green space (the building actually takes up 15% of the current green space), especially to a building that was adding to the collection of “aesthetically unpopular” buildings on the northeast side of campus. The loss of green space was somewhat mitigated by the commitment to ensuring that the building was LEED Gold certified, though students still noted the lack of visible green space on campus as a whole.
Update, 5:20 p.m. Wednesday: Earlier today, the Old Georgetown Board postponed taking action on the new structure, leaving the matter for its next meeting in September, citing various concerns.
Original Post: Last night, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E unanimously approved the University’s plan to build a seven-floor residence hall across from Reiss Science Building. The construction plan for structure is expected to go through an architectural review for final approval by the Old Georgetown Board tomorrow.
The new dorm will hold 250 beds, which will put the University closer to reaching its goal of housing 450 additional students on campus by 2015—a compromise which administrators and neighbors agreed to in last summer’s campus plan resolution. According to Robin Morey, the University’s vice president for planning and facilities management, the University is already adding 65 beds this summer by bringing people out of Magis Row housing into previously unutilized rooms.
Administrators don’t yet have a plan for where to house the remaining students by 2015. “There’s still more work to do to meet the whole commitment of bringing 450 students back on campus. We are working on that, but we do not have a plan for that yet,” Morey said in an interview with Vox.
The group of architects leading the design of the building has taken several measures to address community concerns toward the aesthetics and sustainability of the new building.
According to Jodi Ernst, associate University architect, the new dorm will be LEED Gold-certified, a standard that ensures a high level of sustainability and energy-efficiency. In addition, the building will feature a green roof, and all the major trees in the area, except one, will be preserved.
Beginning this weekend, SNAP will increase enforcement of existing off-campus party policies through more “proactive patrolling and stopping,” GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) wrote in an email to Vox.
Gustafson sits on the Georgetown-Community Partnership steering committee, which plays a large role in implementation of the provisions included in last summer’s campus plan agreement. “[T]he neighborhood partners have felt the need for some time, since the summer Campus Plan Agreement, for an improvement in their quality of life, namely noise on the weekends. Therefore the increased and more effective enforcement of existing policies and procedures will go into effect.”
The email Dr. Todd Olson, the Vice President of Student Affairs, sent to students yesterday reminding them of the school’s and the neighborhood’s policies for off-campus parties seems to confirm this coming stricter enforcement. He did not respond to Vox‘s requests for comment.
Likely in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day events this weekend, Olson reminded students that their behavior affects those living near the school. ”First, as the weather begins to warm, it is important to remind everyone about the high standards that guide life both on and off campus,” Olson wrote. “As members of a university community, we simply cannot behave in ways that disrupt life for our neighbors.”
The email emphasized being quiet when walking by Georgetown homes and ensuring that parties remain manageable in terms of size and noise. Olson also reminded students that a first noise violation can have serious consequences, since it is considered disorderly conduct under District law.
Olson’s email intended to remind students of existing policy. “There have been no changes in University policy, and Dr. Olson’s letter served to inform, as much as to start a broader dialogue with students about the Georgetown community,” Gustafson wrote. “I am sure some students will feel put upon, and frankly—they have a right to feel that way. However I hope that that feeling gets translated into helping create an on-campus environment where we, the undergraduates, rule the roost.”
Olson also announced that the University will start providing regular bus service to DuPont Circle and Adams Morgan on Friday and Saturday nights. The bus new late-night bus service is set to start up this Friday.
The campus plan: No questions? Moving on Chairman Ron Lewis said that the campus plan is now being implemented and is off to a good start. He said that the “approach to partnership” and improved relationship between the school and various neighborhood communities was important in the approval of the plan.
“We expect that to continue,” said Lewis ‘The issues are not easy, even in implementation.”
Lauralyn Lee, Associate Vice President for Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives at Georgetown, said she is pleased at how quickly the school and neighborhood created a working relationship.
No one in the audience had questions about the campus plan.
Comcast boxes are no longer “making an aesthetic wreck” Last month, many residents expressed concerns about small, refrigerator-sized boxes sprouting up in Georgetown’s brick sidewalks—without the ANC’s approval.
Administrators have promised student representatives will take a spot in the Georgetown Community Partnership negotiations, starting with Georgetown University Student Association President Clara Gustafson (SFS, ’13). A press release was sent to campus media announcing this new development.
The campus plan agreement led to the creation of GCP, which is the new negotiating body for future discussions between the University and neighborhood groups. GUSA advocated strongly for student representation in the GCP, as the decisions made during these conversations will have a direct impact on the future of student life at Georgetown.
According to the press release, administrators promised student representation on the steering committee and on other committees, indicating that there will be at least a handful of students in the conversation.
“Since student interests were not adequately represented in the campus plan negotiations, it is of utmost importance that students are part of the GCP, which will set the tone for neighborhood relations going forward,” Gustafson said in the press release. “I really look forward to working with neighborhood leaders on safety, transportation, housing, and other student and community concerns, and I hope to involve as many other students as possible.”