SMPA construction – Staff editorial

The city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment Tuesday heard GW’s plans to build a new School of Media and Public Affairs building on the site of a parking lot at the corner of 21st and H streets, next to the 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. complex. As with any proposed construction, the BZA must approve the plans before any construction can begin.

The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission has, as usual, come out against the plans. It seems that no matter what or where GW plans to build, the ANC is against it. The ANC undoubtedly is responsible for representing its constituents’ views, but in this case it seems the ANC opposes the project solely because of its anti-GW views.

The new building would alleviate the cramped quarters the SMPA now occupies in the Academic Center and give the school a chance to make a substantial name for itself locally and nationally. While parking is a definite concern in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, GW’s contract with the Kennedy Center to provide 150 parking spaces and parking in the Marvin Center garage will compensate for any parking spaces displaced by the building.

The site is a parking lot – hardly an aesthetic landmark. The proposed building would be a high-tech structure, improving GW’s media studies departments and attracting top-name speakers and programs. The building would be in the middle of campus next to a large business complex, nowhere near Foggy Bottom’s major residential area. The ANC members have no valid reason to oppose the construction except their own prejudices.

With GW so close to the center of power in the most powerful city in the world, the creation of a building solely for SMPA would attract a variety of media outlets to the campus. It would be a great learning experience for students and something few other colleges can offer. The BZA should approve the new construction when it comes up for a vote this winter.

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