GW officials said they plan to tear down the former GW hospital and begin plans for a new building within the next nine months that could include a combination of commercial, retail, academic and residential uses.
Facilities management officials have been cleaning out equipment and machinery from the building since the hospital moved from its former location at 23 and I streets in August, but the facility has not been used for medical purposes since the move.
Officials said they are currently in preliminary planning stages for the new building, but no final decisions have been made.
“(We’re) not just putting up another residence hall . we want it to be an architecturally important building,” said GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, noting the site’s prominent location on Pennsylvania Avenue.
He said the University needs to engage in the “usual dance” of speaking to neighborhood groups, designers and architects and assessing University and community needs before proceeding with any plans.
“It’s going to be a big job,” Trachtenberg said, adding that completion should take four to five years.
Administrators said they hope GW will receive a permit to begin demolition this winter, adding that the University has determined the old facility would not be able to accommodate a new facility.
“A 50-year-old structure built as a hospital is not really conducive to other uses,” Senior Counsel Charles Barber said in a January Hatchet article.
Although a new building would no longer serve as a medical facility because it would be “unnecessary,” there is a possibility that the School of Public Health could use the academic portion and doctors’ offices could be located in the commercial area, Trachtenberg said.
Barber said the old hospital currently occupies a residential zone, and only University-related facilities are permitted there.
If GW decides to include commercial use in the new structure, the University will have to submit an application to the city’s Zoning Commission asking to rezone the property.
“Before we go through the city, there has to be a plan for what we want to build,” Barber said. “We don’t have a design yet.”
The University will work with architects and the city to determine on how much space they will be allowed to build, and then officials will develop a program for the building, Barber said.
He also said the process is complicated, but a regular procedure.
Some students said a mixed-use building similar to 1957 E St., which includes retail, academic and residence portions, would be a positive addition to campus.
“Something like the new E Street building would be a great use of the space,” sophomore Christy Odom said.
“There could be dorms on the upper floors and maybe some classrooms and dining on the lower, though I think residential space is the most important,” freshman Ned Russel said.
Local Foggy Bottom residents said they would like to see the space used for residential purposes.
“We are most interested in including (student) housing,” said Barbara Spillinger, vice president of the Foggy Bottom Association. “We still think that the campus is short on space for people to live.”
“Building a dormitory would allow GW to pull more students in and allow them to have a first-class college life experience,” Columbia Plaza resident Marilyn Rubin said.
-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the November 21, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.