With Lofty Ideals, New Dorm Opens

ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA  The Spirit of Georgetown Residential Academy occupies the site of the former Jesuit Residence, and features unparalleled amenities and space.

The Spirit of Georgetown Residential Academy occupies the site of the former Jesuit Residence, and features unparalleled amenities and space.

Earlier this week, the newly renovated Spirit of Georgetown Residential Academy, commonly known as the Former Jesuit Residence, opened its doors to house 148 sophomores, juniors and seniors as a five-floor Living Learning Community based on Jesuit values.

The FJR consists of 18 apartments ranging from a nine-person suite to a double semi-suite. Fitted with modern furnishing, the residence is more spacious than typical on-campus living.

“The idea was to make this very competitive to off-campus living,” Office of Design and Construction Senior Project Manager Brian Barger said.

The building, composed of Ryan and Mulledy Halls, was extensively renovated over a yearlong period as part of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement to house 385 more students on campus by the fall 2015 semester. The plan also includes the temporary conversion of the second floor of the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center into student dorms this year.

Although the interior construction of the FJR was completed during the summer, work on the exterior of the building has been delayed due to permit difficulties. Exterior construction will continue into early September.

The courtyard is slated for completion for halfway through the fall semester, while other construction on Dahlgren Quadrangle and the building’s historic staircase is expected to be completed around Thanksgiving. Once completed, the courtyard will feature barbecue pits and benches.

Each floor of the FJR has its own lounge area and kitchen. All suites in the building also include a furnished living room and kitchen, while semi-suites do not.

Office of Design and Construction Senior Project Architect Amy Sanderson said the construction team focused on making the dorms more technology-friendly.

“The complaints we hear from students a lot are [that] there’s not enough outlets, there’s not enough power and there’s not enough Wi-Fi,” Sanderson said. “We tried to make absolutely certain that we designed this so that it would allow the students to use all of the technology they wanted to use without being hindered by the building itself.”

The building’s first floor houses the statue of Mary of the Mystic Rose kept from the original building, which was built in 1830 and housed Jesuit priests until 2003.

The first floor also includes a nine-person suite, comprised of four doubles and one single. The laundry room is also housed on the first floor, in addition to the residence hall director’s office.

“This is … an existing building that had really, really nice space,” Sanderson said. “We tried to keep that as much as possible.”

The second floor features the Memorial Hall, a student lounge decorated with historical articles and pictures of the original building.

The hall contains a number of recreational elements, including a billiards table, two large flat-screen televisions and a catering room for special events.

“Memorial Hall was built as a Jesuit dining room, which is a big gorgeous space,” Sanderson said. “We wanted to keep the authenticity and the feeling of the building as much as we could.”

The collection was curated by Connor Maytnier (COL ’17), a resident assistant of the LLC. Maytnier served as the student representative on the design committee for the FJR for the past year and a half.

“My interest in the project goes back almost to the beginning,” Maytnier said. “Becoming a part of helping transform this building is when I decided to return as an RA.”

Other highlights of the building include three private balconies located on the third, fourth and fifth floors. Each balcony looks across the Potomac River toward Virginia, with views of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.

Both the building and courtyard are handicap-accessible, conforming to the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seven of the rooms also incorporate ADA-compliant GOCard swipe locks.

“This whole part of campus … has always been very difficult because of the terrain,” Barger said. “Now I think it will be much better for the students who need barrier-free access.”

New resident Vanessa Chapoy (COL ’18) said that she was drawn to the building because of its historical significance.

“I’m really big into history, and I love all the historic value that this building holds,” Chapoy said. “I love it. I thought [space] would be a problem, but the lofts actually allow you to stand up in them.”

Maytnier said that the RAs will host multiple programs each month for residents, including social and partner events with other campus resources. The LLC also has a focus on Jesuit principles such as ad majorem Dei gloriam, being women and men for others and educating the whole person.

“We’re going to be helping the entire building, as they develop a plan to host a program that is rooted in the tenets of the spirit of Georgetown,” Maytnier said.


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One Comment

  1. I’m continually troubled by Georgetown’s plan to add new housing to campus, mostly because it’s incredibly unfair to a large amount of students. Living off campus is often a cheaper option than living on campus. For me, for example, I pay about 9k-10k to live off campus during the school year, whereas on campus I paid 11k. For a student on financial aid, like me, that’s a huge difference!

    This is also a question of quality and equality. There are horrible dorms on campus, dorms with mold, rats, and flies, yet Georgetown has made little to no effort to changing those dorms. My freshman year in Harbin, I constantly greeted gnats in the shower. My sophomore year, maintenance covered up a section of mold on the ceiling with a piece of cardboard. My junior year, my balcony fell through due to rain and there was a hole in our ceiling.

    There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence. Georgetown has a very difficult time keeping up with their current facilities. Additionally, it’s not fair that some students have to pay for forced triples and tiny, broken apartments while other students, who pay the same amount, get these luxurious living spaces, including the new dorm, the hotel, and this space.

    Were the cost a reflection of the quality of the dorm, however, a class issue would quickly arise, as poorer students would almost certainly be in the lower-quality dorms.

    Georgetown isn’t thinking straight on this issue. They’re rushing to get students off-campus and into dorms while the students who are currently on campus are suffering.

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