Plans set in motion for dorm merge

The University will spend $2.5 million over the next year designing a residence hall that will merge three buildings at the center of campus and house more than 800 students.

The Board of Trustees approved funding Friday for the design of the project, colloquially known as the “superdorm,” which will turn sophomore halls West End and Schenley and the freshman Crawford Hall into one complex on the 2100 block between I and H streets. The combined structure will house sophomores and juniors.

Demolition will begin in late 2013, Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said. The three buildings that form Square 77 will be gutted, but construction will not disturb historic façades.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard could not provide more specific information on how the University will spend the $2.5 million price tag, saying only that it will be used to pay an architect and “other planning services.” She said it was too early to provide a timeline for the project.

“It is important to note that construction funds have not yet been approved,” Sherrard said.

The funding marks the first official push by the University to get the project underway since the plan was vaguely outlined in the 20-year campus plan in 2007.

During construction, the Foggy Bottom Campus will see a housing crunch, Weinshel said. Crawford, West End and Schenley house about 550 students in total.

“It’s a domino effect. We will have a little bit of a gap because of when are able to do the work and start the construction,” Weinshel said.

Lafayette Hall, a 162-bed building that will house only transfer students next fall year, will reopen as a first year dorm in fall 2013 to mitigate the space squeeze, Weinshel said. The housing office has not decided how it will fully account for the crunch, he said, adding that more freshmen from the Class of 2017 could live on the Mount Vernon Campus, which houses about 800 students each year.

The residence hall will add a net total of 300 beds in time for the University’s lease to expire on the third-year residence hall, City Hall, in 2016.

The University’s effort to expand Foggy Bottom housing is limited by the District’s enrollment cap, which restricts GW to 16,556 full-time equivalent students on its main campus. The University counted 16,394 full-time equivalent students last semester.

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