Among Students, Dorm Engagement Wanes
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 02:10
Georgetown announced 11 opportunities for students to discuss design plans for the Northeast Triangle Residence Hall on Tuesday, the first two of which have drawn limited engagement so far.
No students attended an open Planning and Facilities Management meeting Thursday afternoon. Approximately 40 students stopped by Thursday evening’s forum about the Northeast Triangle’s first floor, which was held in the New South lobby. The online forum, which allows users to comment on various threads, has thus far received uneven traffic. The most recent comment on the online forum is from 10 days ago.
Associate University Architect Jodi Ernst said that she has seen interest wane since original designs were presented in July.
“[Students] may be burnt out,” Ernst said. “There was a lot of interest, and we’re at a stage where we closed the exterior engagement, and we’re opening engagement at a more detailed level.”
Noreen Sajwani (NHS ’15), who sits on the Northeast Triangle Engagement Committee, exhorted students to contribute their thoughts.
“This is hopefully going to be successful in getting more student feedback, getting them to say what they want, because then there’s really no excuse for what they see in the end because they were a part of the process,” she said.
Responses to the design from alumni and students proved to be influential in the design of the building’s exterior.
“The architects have done a really good job incorporating student feedback, and I think that’s clear if you look at the concept drawing that came out in the summer of the [exterior of the] residence hall and then look at the concept drawing that was presented at the most recent forum,” Georgetown University Student Association Director of Student Space Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) said. “There are significant changes, and all of those changes came directly as a result of student
While students are encouraged to express any concerns they have about Northeast Triangle, upcoming forums will focus on the building’s interior, as there is little opportunity for change in the exterior.
“At this point, we are presenting the exterior to different zoning boards, and they need to approve our design. It’s very difficult to go back in the process and start again,” Katia Lucic, a principal architect at Sasaki Associates, said.
The university expects to next present the residence hall design at the Old Georgetown Board meeting in December.
Each of the upcoming open houses throughout the semester will focus on a specific topic, such as the use of study space or the role of technology in the residence hall.
In addition to these open forums, administrators are working with specific groups of students, such as resident assistants and Residence Hall Office managers, to get feedback on what they hope to see in the building’s interior.
Architects are currently about halfway through the design process. They have concluded the schematic design stage, which included laying out the building and detailing the exterior, and are entering a stage of design development.
“For the next three months, we’re going to be adding details,” Justin Finnicum, a senior associate for Sasaki Associates, said. “At the end of design development, you have the design really nailed down.”
Architects will focus on the building’s mechanical systems, plumbing and electricity during this stage of the design process, as well as the cost of the building. In January, they will do a cost estimate before moving on to a four-month-long process of construction documentation.
Andrew Meshnick (COL ’17) attended the evening engagement forum Thursday.
“It seems like they are very amenable to students’ suggestions,” he said. “My concern is that it’s going to be too much in too small of a location, but I understand that there is also a necessity for us to bring students onto campus for housing. … I think that the flexibility of the first floor is really interesting.”
By early December, the opportunity for student contributions to the design will mainly have passed.
“We’ll have to close the book on many of the topics [after Dec. 9] because the design [of the interior] will be set,” Ernst said. “There will be ample opportunity to still give input about the finishes and the furniture and other elements that aren’t so eminent.”
Appelbaum called on students to offer design feedback while they still could.
“We want to get as much student engagement as possible, but it’s up to the students to engage when the opportunities are available,” Appelbaum said.