CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Georgetown completed a two-year renovation of the first floor of Car Barn earlier this month.
Georgetown completed a two-year renovation of the first floor of Car Barn earlier this month.

After two years of planning, approval and construction, the university completed renovations on about 22,000 square feet of the Car Barn’s first floor this month, creating a new graduate student lounge and providing space for the Georgetown University Press and the university’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The new lounge, located in the southwest corner of the building, features custom fabricated floor-to-ceiling glass windows that increase window space by replacing former garage doors. The university also has plans to make further renovations to departmental offices located in the Car Barn.

“We’re trying to accomplish many things. One is it consolidated other lease space to make us more efficient,” Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey said. “It provided space for graduate student growth, some graduate student common space and study-collaboration space and we’ve also got space in there that we call swing space.”

The new swing space in the Car Barn will be used to temporarily house other programs or departments currently located elsewhere in the Car Barn so that their offices can also be renovated.

“The intent is that we get more efficient,” Morey said. “And in order to do that, you need to move those people somewhere. So we also have a small area that’s for swing space so that we can go in and strategically renovate other parts of the Car Barn in the future.”

One of the major drivers of the renovation project, according to Morey, was GU Press’ expiring lease at its previous office location, 3240 Prospect St. NW. The lease expired in November and the GU Press staff moved into the Car Barn on Nov. 21.

When the Car Barn’s owner, Douglas Development Corporation, listed space on the first floor of the building about two years ago, the university negotiated a contract to lease it. At the time, Douglas Development was also attempting to attract a retailer to the available first-floor space.

Prior to Georgetown’s lease two years ago, the university was using the first floor of Car Barn as garage space, according to Morey.

Alongside the student lounge, the Government Master’s program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences relocated its offices to the newly renovated Car Barn space from the Intercultural Center. The increased space for the Graduate School falls in line with the university’s plan to increase the size of the Graduate School over the next two decades.

“The university has aspirations to expand the Graduate School,” Morey said. “If you look at our campus plan, we’re looking to grow our graduate program over the next 10 to 20 years by 2,000 students. At least, that’s what we requested in the plan and have approved. So, obviously those folks need a home.”

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Norberto Grzywacz said the complex nature of issues that graduate students study requires collaborative work, which the newly renovated space in the Car Barn helps to stimulate.

“In addition, the design of the new space will encourage these unique programs to interact with each other,” Grzywacz wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Thus, the new space is an essential part of an important innovation in higher education.  This innovation turns a good portion of a university scholarly production outwards towards society.”

According to proposals submitted in November 2016 to the Old Georgetown Board, an advisory committee of architects appointed by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a federal entity, the Graduate School also plans to add signage to the M Street and Prospect Street entrances to the Car Barn reading, “Georgetown University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.”

Georgetown University Press Publicity and Exhibits Manager Jackie Beilhart said the new GU Press office is a step up from the former space. Not only is the new office closer to campus, but it includes an elevator, unlike the former lease. Furthermore, Beilhart said that the university made sure to modify the office to ensure higher-than-average air quality.

“Since the space is brand new, it’s definitely very nice and very well put-together whereas our last place hadn’t been renovated in a bit,” Beilhart said. “Certainly, just having a new place in general has been really lovely.”

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