With architecture firm, Gelman renovations move forward

University officials selected an architecture firm last week to solidify designs for the three-year renovation of the entrance floor of Gelman Library.
After sending out a request for proposals last fall to several firms, GW chose Cox Graae + Spack Architects because of the firm’s “experience with similar projects, experience in this building and the competitiveness of their proposal,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.
Sherrard declined to specify the number of firms GW considered. Sherrard declined to say the cost of hiring the firm.
The University first considered Cox Graae + Spack in May to develop a design for the entrance floor.
The finalized plan has Gelman’s main entrance moving to Kogan Plaza to create a more open atmosphere and the second floor will become the entrance floor. The plan also features laptop bars and more study space, which will include workstations and several multi-purpose rooms.
Cafe G, the library’s indoor student lounge, will also grow to accommodate vending machines – a project the Student Association senate lobbied for last semester.
The process of redesigning space on the first two floors of the aging structure began last summer and will continue through next spring. Construction is slated to begin this summer, rolling out in several phases with estimated completion in 2014.
The $16-million budget approved by the Board of Trustees last May is still the best cost estimate for the renovation project, Sherrard said, and also covers the plans for the new entrance.
The firm helped upgrade the GW Law School and its library in 2002.
Provost Steven Lerman said Gelman Library has been a top priority since he joined the University two years ago.
“I wasn’t hearing from students or from faculty that we need a vast improvement in the collection,” Lerman said in an interview in late November. “I was hearing the students say ‘We need better study space’ and they’re right. Gelman’s jammed, particularly around finals time.”
After holding several campus-wide forums over the last year to gather input on the project, the architect and project team plan to conduct additional outreach to groups like the Gelman Library Student Advisory Board to ensure that students, faculty and staff remain invested in the end goal.
Gelman’s student liaison Aria Varasteh said he has regularly reported to the architects and other planners for the Gelman renovation based on input from student groups.
“Whether [students] have concerns about the new workstations due to utility or appearance, I, the Gelman Library staff and the architects will take their opinions into account when rearranging the floor plan and modifying other aspects of the project,” Varasteh, a senior, said. “We truly do want the student voice to be heard the loudest.”
The advisory board will hold a town hall-style meeting Jan. 19 that will allow students, faculty and staff to meet the architects and learn more about the renovations. 

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