Plans for the construction of the New South Student Center took a leap forward this month after the NSSC Committee chose the architecture firm ikon.5 to design the new space.

The firm, based in Princeton, N.J., specializes in designing facilities for colleges and other academic institutions. It was selected through a competitive bidding process administered by the committee and is now negotiating a contract with the university.

“With ikon.5, we really sensed their ability and interest in working with students,” Zachary Singer (SFS ’15), student member of the NSSC Committee, said.

According to Singer, ikon.5 impressed the committee with plans to incorporate student input in the design process. The firm plans to hold creative meetings with students throughout the summer in D.C. and other major cities.

Principal architect Joseph Tattoni described his vision for the new student space as focused on the building’s view of the river.

“We see it as a blank canvas. There are so many opportunities with this project because it is one of the few buildings that has a great view of the Potomac,” he said.

Tattoni explained that in Georgetown’s early days, most of the university’s buildings faced the river, which served as the main view and focal point for campus architecture. Fr. Patrick Healy, S.J., the university’s 29th president, then decided that Georgetown should face the city and altered the campus’s design focus to that end.

Once contract negotiations are finalized, ikon.5 will begin working to design a space that can fit into the existing infrastructure of New South Hall, including the piping and underground work already in place. Renovation plans must also take into consideration the fact that the building’s residents must continue to live in New South during construction.

According to Tattoni, the design process will move along an accelerated timeline so that the new space can open by fall 2014.

“The university wants us to move very quickly on this,” Tattoni said. “Typically, projects of this scale take a year to design, but this project will most likely move more quickly.”

As construction plans develop, discussions have already begun about potential tenants for several available vendor spots to be included in the new facility.

Only Students of Georgetown, Inc. has confirmed plans to apply for a new location in the center. The student-run business also posted a poll on its blog May 6 asking customers what kind of new venue they would like to see. Options included a salad shop, smoothie shop, deli, bakery and coffee shop. Results were not available for public viewing.

“We see this space as a chance to be innovative and challenge ourselves, as a way to bring something new to campus while at the same time delivering a high-quality product,” CEO of The Corp Michael West wrote in a statement to the press.

In addition to vendor spaces, the university has committed to providing room in the new facility to house a pub, community room and open study space.

Tattoni said his main goal for the designs will be creating a useful and meaningful student space that will last for generations.

“We know the whole history and love and memory of the old pub and student activity space that was in Healy Hall,” he said. “We hope to get at the spirit of what that was all about.”

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