University hires firm to renovate Gelman

The University is moving forward with plans to renovate the first floor of Gelman Library, a first step toward making good on its promise to revamp the aging building.

University spokeswoman Emily Cain said GW hired Cox Graae + Spack Architects in late December, and the firm is in the process of developing a conceptual plan for what the renovations will look like.

Though the University has retained the architectural firm, it has not determined what its scope and size will be.

“As we’ve said before, renovation of Gelman Library is a top priority for the University,” University Provost Steven Lerman said. “We are still in the early stages, but we are moving forward and have progressed to the next phase of the project.”

Renovation plans were drawn up in 2006 but were never brought to fruition. Those plans have since been scrapped, though Cain said they will factor in to planning discussions.

Cain said she could not give an exact cost for the project until the plans have been finalized. In past months, top University administrators have been guarded about stating exactly where the money for renovations would come from, and outlining how fundraising efforts for Gelman have progressed.

Student Association President Jason Lifton listed off student complaints about the state of the library to the Board of Trustees at its October meeting and has been pushing GW to renovate the building.

“If you think about it as an institution, it says something about the student body when so many people complain about the library,” Lifton said in an interview Wednesday. “Anyone will tell you Gelman needs help.”

The biggest changes Lifton said the library needs is expand group study space and better technological capabilities.

“[You need] somewhere to charge your laptop. How do you not have outlets everywhere? [There needs to be] something done for keeping noise down, even though it’s the first floor so it’s still conducive to getting work done,” Lifton said.

Lifton said the need for more group study space is something that wasn’t necessary when the library was built, but has become crucial as collaborative work becomes more popular in a University setting.

Cain said the library’s Student Advisory Board will host a forum for all students Feb. 2 to collect ideas and feedback for the renovation. A Gelman advisory group, representing the library’s stakeholders, will also be involved in the planning, Cain said.

Additionally, the University will be working with a separate student group organized by Lifton and SA Executive Vice President Rob Maxim. Lifton and Maxim have consistently listed improving Gelman among the top goals of their administration

Lifton said the student board will reach out to and involve students from every area of the school, not just from the SA.

“The goal of this advisory board is to bring in all opinions,” he said.

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