Ready to knock loose the first chunks of precast concrete from the University Parking Garage, President Knapp is flanked by students from Campaign GW, who lent a hand. From left: Summer Newman, April MacIntyre, Will Rone, Jenna Curtis and Katie Lewis. (Photo by William Atkins)
Science and Engineering Hall Wins Approval
D.C. Zoning Commission gives final go-ahead for new building; demolition begins.
The D.C. Zoning Commission this month gave final approval to GW’s plan to build the Science and Engineering Hall, clearing the way for a “transformational” building that will serve as a launch pad for the university’s broadening research aspirations.
“This project is a terrific testament to what GW, the community and the D.C. government can achieve by working together,” said Alicia O’Neil Knight, senior associate vice president for operations, following the zoning commission’s vote on June 13.
The new teaching and laboratory facility, which will be located on the site of the University Parking Garage on 22nd and H streets NW, will nearly double the space on campus allotted to several science and engineering disciplines.
Earlier in the month, at a ceremony kicking off the demolition of the parking garage, GW President Steven Knapp said the “transformational project that will be on this site will move the university into a new era.”
Donning hard hats, Dr. Knapp along with lead donors, students and members of the board of trustees took swings at the garage with sledgehammers, knocking from the exterior the first chunks of precast concrete.
Demolition of the parking garage will continue through the summer and into the fall. A formal groundbreaking is planned for this fall, and construction is expected to be completed by late 2014.
At the ceremony, Dr. Knapp said there is “no question that we’ve had a pent-up necessity and demand for more space for our scientists and engineers.” The building, he said, “is an essential part of our plan to really move the university forward.”
And beyond the university community, the Science and Engineering Hall will be helping to boost “the economic vitality and the health of the District of Columbia,” he said. “The research funding that comes into this building is money that’s going to be spent here.”
Plans call for the building to comprise eight stories above grade and six below, four of which will be for parking. The endeavor brings under one roof four departments from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and five from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, which currently are spread across a dozen buildings on the Foggy Bottom Campus.
The building was designed with an eye toward fostering mixing and collaboration among students and faculty members, within their own disciplines and across the boundary lines.
“The answers to the big questions—like the environment and energy—require multidisciplinary approaches,” said Peg Barratt, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, in a recent interview. “The open layout of this new building, with its teaching and research ‘neighborhoods,’ will facilitate and encourage collaboration.”
David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has said the mere promise of the building is “having a huge influence, certainly with respect to the quality of the faculty we’re able to recruit now.”
That spans well-established researchers, like Elias Balaras—who studies computational fluid dynamics and arrived in January from University of Maryland—to younger faculty members who trained at top engineering schools, such as MIT, Berkeley and Georgia Tech.
“I’m absolutely confident that they would not have come here without seeing the future that is projected by the building and this growth,” he said.
Building plans also include several highly specialized laboratories, like the three-story-tall high bay; teaching labs that incorporate new methods for hands-on learning; and a variety of sustainable elements that will target silver-level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council on its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
Science and Engineering Hall Stats
- Square footage: Approximately 400,000 square feet above grade with 290,000 usable square feet, including teaching and research spaces, faculty offices and other support spaces.
- Floors: 14 (Eight floors above grade and two floors below for programming space; four floors below grade for parking)
- Parking: 379 spaces
- Completion: Late 2014
- Preliminary cost estimate: $275 million, funded primarily with lease payments from Square 54 (across from GW Hospital), indirect cost reimbursement from grants and contracts supporting faculty research, and philanthropic gifts from the GW community (Learn more about philanthropic giving to the Science and Engineering Hall)
It’s mostly fantasy. Although they certainly have razor-sharp teeth and a powerful bite, they’re mainly scavengers so if anything dies and falls into the water, it will be eaten up. But piranhas are not dangerous to humans.
—Guillermo Orti, the Louis Weintraub Associate Professor of Biology in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, debunking the dubious reputation of piranhas. Dr. Orti appeared last month on a National Geographic Explorer episode called “Megapiranha
,” which took him into the Amazon. For more details, read the full story
on GW Today.
Science and Engineering Hall Location