In New Plans, Admins Heed Opposition
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 02:10
Following an outpouring of student opposition to an off-campus housing option and a flurry of on-campus construction projects, the university introduced its second stage of master planning in a Planning 201 session Wednesday evening.
The forum covered a wide range of planning developments, including on and off-campus housing options, changes to Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle routes and current and future projects, like the Intercollegiate Athletic Center, Healey Family Student Center and Northeast Triangle Residence Hall.
Perhaps most notably, the event was the first chance for community members to respond to the university’s announcement that it is has filed a request with the D.C. Zoning Commission to change the designated use of Ryan, Mulledy and Gervase Halls to include “residential, campus life and athletic” along with the current “academic and administrative” designation. The requested change would allow the university to pursue student housing in the building, a featured alternative in the student-initiated “One Georgetown, One Campus” campaign.
Although the session included some major announcements, hardly anyone was there to hear them. Roughly a dozen people attended, about half of whom were students.
The former Jesuit residences, Ryan and Mulledy, have remained vacant since 2003 due to an asbestos problem, while Gervase currently houses administrative offices.
“It’s sitting there deteriorating. Let’s invest in it now and make it a temporary residence that you can help support meeting our commitment,” Vice President for Planning and Facilities Robin Morey said in an interview with The Hoya on Thursday.
If converted, the building would likely be designed to allow a transition from a temporary housing solution to an academic building once the university is able to find long-term housing solutions. Georgetown is responding to requirements of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement, which include housing an additional 385 students on campus by fall 2015 and housing 90 percent of students on campus by fall 2025.
“You think about the rooms in there and how you design those rooms, and you can theoretically flip them to common space that could be a combination of administrative and program space,” Morey said.
For long-term housing solutions, however, administrators are looking closely at both Harbin Terrace and Kober-Cogan, a vacant building owned by MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
A dorm on Harbin Terrace, which could house approximately 350 beds, is an option favored by administrators.
In response to intense student criticism, administrators have also reconsidered the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center as an on-campus housing option. The option had been ruled out last March because of the revenue the university receives from the hotel.
Olson noted that satellite housing for undergraduates is still on the table as a temporary solution until permanent housing solutions can be constructed on campus.
“Northeast Triangle is the first priority for new beds on campus. We’re also exploring the possibilities of off-campus housing options. We know that most students have expressed that they don’t like this option at all,” Olson said. “We certainly have a real preference to have student housing on campus. Everyone agrees that’s optimal and ideal.”
While a redesigned Northeast Triangle dorm received favorable feedback when revealed to students in late August, the design has yet to be approved by the Old Georgetown Board, whose Thursday meeting was cancelled due to the government shutdown.
“We expect to get conceptual design approval very shortly from OGB. It’s a little bit up in the air with the government shutdown,” Senior Architect Jodi Ernst said. “We’re at a stage where we have about nine months of drawing left.”
With respect to future campus planning, administrators discussed two initiatives in the works: a faculty collaboration survey and the “Next 100 Acres.”
The survey, to be conducted in late October, will identify which departments work together regularly and attempt to move their respective offices closer together.
“One thing we really wanted to do was ask faculty how they collaborate with each other, and then that will get overlaid onto the physical footprint of where the offices are, how they work and where their classrooms are,” Morey said.
Morey discussed upcoming changes to GUTS bus routes, which reflect a clause in the campus plan agreement that stipulates that all bus routes, except the shuttle to Wisconsin Avenue, will be required to enter and leave campus through the Canal Road entrance, rerouting the Dupont Circle line and removing the Car Barn bus stop.
“We have determined that our passengers are willing to deal with an additional 11 minutes between stops, and we are doing our best to limit increases in travel time to that amount,” Morey said.
While three routes are under consideration, the primary route would include a roundabout in front of the Lombardi Cancer center, with bus stops by Southwest Quad and near the Leavey Hotel entrance.