Building renovations and openings to look out for on campus

Media Credit: File Photo by Phebe Grosser | Staff Photographer

The opening of GW Hillel's new building on 23rd Street comes after years of obstacles, including a lawsuit from St. Mary’s West Episcopal Church and the West End Citizens Association.

At long last the student body is back in Foggy Bottom, but campus may look a bit different from the one you left last March.

As you get settled for the upcoming academic year, explore what’s new since you last stepped foot on campus. From the addition of the GW Hillel building to Thurston Hall’s ongoing renovation, here are some ways the campus has changed in the past year and a half.

GW Hillel building on H Street
GW Hillel – an organization that serves nearly 4,500 Jewish students – opened a new building in July at 2300 H St. equipped with study spaces, conference rooms, kitchens and a small temple space. The multimillion-dollar project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, provides a welcoming space for both Jewish students at GW and the D.C. Jewish community at large.

The facility’s opening comes after years of obstacles, including a lawsuit from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and West End Citizens Association arguing the renovations would damage the church and COVID-19 pandemic-related delays. The four-story building offers kosher-friendly dining daily for students within Hillel and the greater GW community.

Capital Bikeshare station at 21st and G streets
A new addition to G Street last October will bring an accessible way for Foggy Bottom residents to bike around the District. City officials installed both a Capital Bikeshare station with 15 to 20 bike slots, located at the corner of 21st Street and G Street, and a two-way protected bike lane running from Virginia Avenue to the White House.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution in January 2019 to add a two-way bike lane on G Street for better connectivity and safety. Students can pick up a bike for a single trip ($2), a 24-hour period ($8 per day) or opt for a discounted annual membership for students ($25), then return their bike to one of the hundreds of Capital Bikeshare stations around the metro D.C. area.

Thurston Hall renovation
Thurston Hall, an iconic residence hall that has housed the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Chuck Todd, is undergoing renovations that include the addition of a courtyard, a penthouse level with a common space and courtyard terraces. The hall’s renovations, which are expected to be completed by next fall, will include both a student center and a residence hall, much like the concept of District House.

The $80-million-dollar project came after the Board of Trustees and the D.C. Zoning Commission approved the renovations in 2019. The building will be revamped with a dining hall, 820 beds and 16 study lounges to give students a space to work and interact with others on their floor.

Western Market
The Shops at 2000 Penn will gain some new neighbors when the Western Market opens 14 restaurants within the next month. The food hall’s offerings include Arepa Zone – a Venezuelan restaurant – Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls and Nim Ali, a Guatemalan restaurant.

Western Market was originally slated to open last year but the launch was postponed nearly a year after its intended opening date. Western Market will offer both indoor and outdoor seating for customers.

Renovated Gelbucks
Last year, the Starbucks next door to Gelman Library ditched its dark-colored walls, countertops and ceiling for a lighter, brighter aesthetic. In front of the counters now lies a display of tumblers, cold cups and coffee bags for purchase.

With light-colored wood furniture, artistic leaf patterns adorning the walls and light streaming in from the many windows that already existed, the renovations transformed Gelbucks to a warmer and more modern space to enjoy a mid-day coffee break.

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