GW unveils Mount Vernon and law school additions

Students, faculty and staff are moving into a new law school and a revamped Mount Vernon Campus residence hall this semester after months of construction delays.

Officials cited weather and permit delays that postponed the completion of these projects, both of which were scheduled to open in the fall.

The townhouse-style addition to the GW Law School, at 20th and G streets now houses administrative and faculty offices.

Law School Dean Tom Morrison said 71 faculty and staff members moved to the new offices from rented property at 1819 H St. and the current Law School complex at 20th and H streets.

The new building is part of a three-phase construction plan to expand the Law School and will allow students to walk between five buildings on the Quad.

The building contains “beautiful” conference rooms that overlook the quad and provides “wonderful transit space,” Morrison said, to give students more room to study and socialize.

“Even though it looks like we are building new faculty offices, the (old faculty offices) will be used for student space,” he said. “We are planning on renovating in a later phase to create a more complex student area.”

Morrison also said although the building serves a functional purpose, the best part is its appearance.

“It is very pretty,” he said. “It was great to keep the historic facade and link to Stuart and Burns halls.”

Officials said inclement weather held up construction, delaying the opening for about two months after the original mid-October target date.

The Mt. Vernon Somers Hall addition also opened this month with 183 beds and 42 occupants.

The Somers Hall addition was originally scheduled to house students last fall, but problems getting a building permit pushed the project back. The University subsequently offered study abroad options to a number of sophomores who committed to living in the residence hall this spring.

Mount Vernon Dean Grae Baxter said the delays were “very unfortunate” but offered students a very lucrative opportunity in return.

Some students agree.

“It’s a trade-off. Most people here knew they would have to be living here when they came back, and they did not mind it,” sophomore Dan DiCicco said.

DiCicco said he likes the campus because it is an escape from the “hustle and bustle” of the city.

“It’s brand new, the food is great, there are good facilities and there is a strong sense of community – it is like living in Thurston all over again,” DiCicco said.

But when asked if he would rather live at the new building instead of New Hall, DiCicco offered: “If I had the choice, I would be down in Foggy Bottom.”

Sophomore Bridget McElroy, who traveled to France last semester, agreed that living at Mount Vernon is “the catch” of the study abroad program.

“I think it’s beautiful; it’s a brand new building,” she said. “It’s great, but I’m on Mount Vernon.”

McElroy said she doesn’t mind the commute between campuses, “but occasionally it gets to be a pain.”

She said she and her roommate signed up for the GWorld program during last year’s housing selection. An international affairs major, McElroy said she wanted to go abroad as early as possible.

The benefits of the program and living at Mount Vernon, she said, like a travel stipend, parking for $10 a semester and living in a new building made it “an amazing opportunity.”

“Plus, it’s only for four months,” McElroy said.

Baxter said she has not heard any complaints from students about the addition and that the move-in is going smoothly.

Somers Hall President Morgan Pierson said sophomores do not seem to mind living on a primarily freshman campus for the rest of the year.

He said the new residents favor the changes on campus such as the new pub.

“The kids I have talked to don’t seem to have a problem. They have only been there three days, but so far they seem to like it,” said Pierson.

Pierson said the new building still needs “a few tweaks,” but it is basically ready to house students.

Baxter said some “punch-list” items and other small issues are being addressed.

McElroy noted minor construction still going on, disorganization during move-in and other students having trouble with internet connection, but also said she likes the convenience of a Provisions and the pub.

“It’s not crowded like at J Street,” she said. “It’s a really pretty atmosphere.”

-Kate Stepan contributed to this report

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