Pelham Hall will increase Mount Vernon population by 40 percent

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October 9, 2009

The addition of Pelham Hall will increase the student population on GW’s Mount Vernon campus by 40 percent and will be just the second residence hall with freshmen and sophomores living together.

The Pelham Redevelopment Project, which included completely demolishing the existing building to rebuild the new residence hall, will be complete in the fall of 2010, said Jennifer Solt, associate director of Mount Vernon Campus Life.

“What will make the new building unique is the intentionality that is going into offering sophomore spots in the building and how this integration will come into play with house life and overall campus community,” she said.

“The increase will be roughly 40 percent,” she said. “The old Pelham building had about 80 beds, so prior to it being taken off line, the Mount Vernon Campus had a capacity of roughly 480.”

The cost of living per bed in Pelham Hall has not been determined, said Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak. When South Hall, the University’s newest residence hall on Foggy Bottom, opened, the building was the most expensive to live in.

The addition of the residence building will significantly affect the campus’s population.

In response to rumors that all GW freshmen will be moved onto the Mount Vernon campus, Solt said, “it’s a physical impossibility.”

The new residence hall will have a black box theater, student organization office space, a fitness center, recording, art and dance studios and a digital media center designed by the Gelman library system, Solt said.

“The building is purely for student recreation and is not affiliated with any academic departments,” she added.

Greg Ginnan, a sophomore who plays the piano, guitar and saxophone, said if he were an incoming freshman, he would want to live in this residence hall.

“I have a big interest in music and I would assume people with that interest would live there, too, and those are the type of people I would want to be around when entering the university,” Ginnan said.

The residence hall will provide 287 people with suites with a common area, kitchen, four single bedrooms, and a bathroom with two sinks, Solt said. It will be made up of primarily freshmen and about 100 sophomores, she added. While some upperclassmen currently reside on Mount Vernon, its buildings are classified as freshman residence halls, Solt said.

Living Learning Cohorts (LLCs) will be in the building, but the specific ones are “not set in stone,” Solt said.

Freshman Julia Weir, a member of GW’s women cross-country team, said even though living on Mount Vernon would be inconvenient for the sport, she would consider living in this new residence hall for its amenities.

“I would maybe deal with the commute, spend time in the library in between my classes, just to later go home to my kitchen,” Weir said.

The project is currently under budget at $49 million and was projected to cost $60 million, according to Executive Vice President and University Treasurer Louis Katz. The savings will be used to renovate Ames Dining Hall.

“Since we are still in the programming process for the space, I don’t have a specific number for capacity other than to say significantly more than Ames can currently seat,” she said.

Solt said she is excited for the project’s completion.

“This building will be something unlike anything else. It will make space that’s usable and useful for you guys,” she said. “We just want you all to have the best we can give you.”

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