During the D.C. Zoning Commission’s speedy meeting last Monday, the expansion of the Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center was briefly mentioned in discussions over the campus plan. As part of the revised agreement, the University will house an additional 450 students on campus by fall 2015. Sixty-five of those beds will come from relocating the townhouses on the 1400 block of 36th street, but a whole 385 beds will come from the conversion of the Leavey Center into a dormitory.
According to University spokeswoman Stacy Kerr, the building as it stands now can only house an estimated 250 beds, so the remaining 135 beds will come from an extension of the building to the East. “There is no finished design,” Kerr wrote in an email to Vox. “We’ll begin design work in the next few months. Our goals with the addition are to keep the height equal to the current building, and to build eastward from the hotel tower – toward the bookstore.”
The campus plan agreement allows Georgetown to add on and renovate the Leavey Center without further approval from the Zoning Commission, even though there are not yet any definitive plans yet for its construction. The commissioners were initially unsure about whether they should allow the University to bypass zoning procedure without knowing any specifics about the building.
Wednesday night, GUSA executives Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) held a forum to recap this summer’s meetings about the New South Student Center and Leavey Center. Since the updated drawings for the NSSC won’t be released until the public launch of the capital campaign this October, and the Leavey center redesign hasn’t reached past general brainstorming, many questions could only be answered by speculation.
Meaney started the meeting by summarizing the summer’s work, especially the consensus among students and University architects that attempting to do too much with too little, which is a major criticism of the original NSSC layout, would doom both centers. Still, we will have to wait until the redesigned NSSC floorplans are released to see if Smithgroup was receptive to the space consensus.
“We have to cast a skeptical eye on the feedback we received,” said Meaney.
One concern brought up in the meeting would be the place of graduate students in both projects. Laverriere assured the room that, although NSSC would be open to everyone, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said that it would primarily serve undergraduates. Also, Laverriere noted that keeping some sort of Sellinger-type space in Leavey would make sense.
On Wednesday, Brad Lukanic of Cannon Design, led students, architects, and University administrators in a “visioning” of the renovation of the Leavey Center that is to occur over the next two decades.
In contrast to the last student space forum, a consensus emerged at the meeting: Leavey should maximize workspace for student groups, whereas the New South Student Center should serve as “hang-out” space for the student body at-large.
Lukanic led the room in brainstorming exercises, in which both students and University officials characterized Leavey as an “inefficient and insufficient response to student needs.”
Other characterizations called it a “de facto student center by process of elimination” and a “hallway and parking lot.” Multiple responses said the center’s purpose was to confuse people. Lukanic noted that these problems were endemic to Leavey’s design.
Most participants at the meeting agreed that the redesign should maximize student organization space at the expense of hang-out space.
“We’re very much lacking space in terms of collaboration,” said Emma Green of Philodemic (COL ’12).
Lukanic had the meeting’s attendees rank desired uses for space in Leavey and the NSSC, respectively. Participants were nearly unanimous in their desire to see group spaces in Leavey and a student lounge in New South. “Now I don’t care about any student group space in New South,” said Alex Pon (COL ’12), Corp CEO.
Other desired uses of the Leavey Center included work space for informal student groups, better availability of the esplanade for events like outdoor concerts, and an archetypal “Georgetown” feel instead of generic university architecture.
Additionally, Kathleen McCollough of GPB (SFS ’12) and Chris Pigott of GUSA (COL ’12) expressed their desires that the space be intuitive. Both cited how difficult it is to give people directions to and within the center.
Meetings about the Leavey center will continue into the fall, when Cannon Design will present to the University possible scenarios for renovation. The University will decide how to move forward from there.
Otherwise, the completion of the New Science Center and the proposed conversion of the Leavey Center Hotel into an upperclassman dorm leave some uncertainty as to the future usage of Leavey. In the mean time the University will add interim worship spaces for Jewish and Muslim chaplaincies and renovate Bulldog Alley for the start of the fall term 2011, according to University architect Gina Bleck
Meanwhile, her office is compiling a list of miscellaneous social spaces on campus, such as Alumni Lounge, to include in the University’s overhaul of student space.
Of the gift, $5 million will go toward permanent support for the Catholic programming provided through the Office of Mission and Ministry. “The gift will endow programs and a new position that will provide expanded spiritual and educational opportunities for faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Blue and Gray writes.
Another $1 million will provide need-based scholarships to students, with preference to students coming to Georgetown from Jesuit high schools, “including Cristo Rey schools, a national network of Catholic high schools that provide college preparatory education to urban young people who live in communities with limited educational options.”
The final $900,000 will be put toward hiring and retaining Jesuit faculty by creating the Leavey Distinguished Jesuit Scholars Fund.
Georgetown University has received several gifts from the Leavey Foundation in the past, including the gift for the naming rights of the Leavey Student Center, money to endow an academic chair in the Foundations of American Freedom, and money for the Southwest Quadrangle residence halls. Thomas Leavey, a co-founder of the Foundation, was a 1923 graduate of the Georegtown Law Center.
On Sunday, a man who had shoplifted merchandise from the University Bookstore fell off the Leavey Center pedestrian bridge during his attempt to flee the scene. The incident happened on a Sunday afternoon, after the suspect had been confronted for trying to steal from the bookstore, University Spokesperson Andy Pino wrote in an e-mail.
A Department of Public Safety investigator who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Vox that the man was not a student, nor does he have any connection to the University. Pino and Rocco DelMonaco, the vice president for University safety, said that the suspect sustained injuries while trying to escape that needed hospital attention. DPS has turned the case over to the Metropolitan Police Department, which has not responded to requests for comment.
Update: Joseph Smith, the associate director of the Public Safety Department, sent more details in an e-mail: “According to witnesses, the perpetrator had attempted to steal two text books valued at $177 dollars each from the Leavey Book Store. He allegedly fled from the bookstore, dropped a duffel bag containing the books, and jumped over the side of the bridge.”
Based on interviews with four University sources, Vox originally reported that the suspect jumped off the bridge. Eyewitnesses have since told the Voice that the suspect fell attempting to climb down the bridge. The post has been altered to reflect the new information.
The Student Space Working Group—an organization founded in the fall of 2008 to address the lack of study space, social areas, offices for student organizations, and a centralized student center—recently got the chance to discuss their objectives with top University administrators at a summit organized by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.
SSWG Chair Max Glassie (COL ’10) and Communications Director Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11) both said they thought the administration was responsive at the summit. Plans are still in the talking stage, though, at least until the group finishes the “White Paper”—a student space proposal plan with information from surveys and interviews with students—that they are currently working on. SSWG hopes to finalize the paper by the end of the semester.
“Space is something that moves very slowly,” Glassie said “A lot of it is talk, and at this point we have to realize that talk is a really good thing and it means a lot of progress.”
Among the long-term proposals is a plan for creating a Student Center with a restaurant or café in the New South basement.
“There’s approximately 30,000 square feet of space under New South, which is largely unused,” Max Glassie, Chair of the SSWG said. “The plans include a conference center—one of the big problems students face now is the lack of adequate space for programming.”
The Voice’s long-simmering curiosity about the disgusting lumpy gray hair that seems to grow on the ceilings of stairwells inside campus buildings has reached its peak. Here’s an image of one particularly foul stairwell, straight from Leavey’s fourth floor…
…and here’s a closeup of the noxious stuff.
Certain reporters brave enough to grab a fistfull and rip it loose observe that it does indeed feel like some kind of hair, or maybe dead mold. Did some disgruntled Facilities workers plaster the stairwell ceilings of Georgetown with the contents of their industrial-size vacuum cleaners? Did you? Vox Populi is looking to you, the readers, for answers as to what this hair is, where it comes from, which campus building may have the hairiest stairs, and what should be done about its invasion.