Revised sketches of the Northeast Triangle Residence Hall were received favorably at the second student dorm forum in Leavey Center on Wednesday evening.
After the original design proposal was panned this summer by students and alumni, architectural firm SasakiAssociates and Georgetown administrators held a forum to gather input in July. Sasaki incorporated recommendations from the first forum into its revised designs.
The material for the dorm’s exterior has been changed from gray slate to stone in an attempt to build a dorm more consistent with main campus architecture. The building will also have limestone, wood accents and carder rock, which are used in both Copley Hall and White-Gravenor Hall, along with some glass features.
Sasaki architects cited the Rafik B.Hariri Building’s blend of traditional stone and modern glass design as a main influence.
Other key changes to the dorm included reducing the number of beds from 250 to 225. The height of the building was reduced where it is closest to the walkway from Red Square to Leavey Center to address concerns that the original design was too obtrusive.
As part of a sustainability push, the new dorm designs also include a bicycle storage area that will fit 100 bikes at the back of the dorm. Dorm rooms will be Copley-style suites with one bathroom per suite. There will also be apartments for chaplains-in-residence, as is standard in Georgetown dorms.
To address concerns that the location of the dorm is taking up one of the last remaining green spaces on campus, Sasaki will add green space on the rooftop, though the exact details and the accessibility of the roof have yet to be determined. The design also leaves in place many of the large oak trees that dot the landscape between Intercultural Center and Henle Village. The dorm will create a terraced hill that Sasaki hopes will be more utilized than the current green space.
“What we’ve heard from you is that green space is very valuable,” Sasaki architect Katia Lucic said. “In our design, we are leaving 50 percent of the space open and green.”
Reactions to the new dorm designs were generally positive. Georgetown University Student Association Director of Student Space Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14), who serves on the Northeast Triangle design committee, noted the evident response to criticism received at the previous event.
“There’s still lots to be improved upon,” Appelbaum said. “But almost all of the changes were positive and direct responses to student and alumni feedback.”
The forum comes one week before a meeting of the Old Georgetown Board, which will review these revisions. The board had postponed deliberations on the dorm July 3 until Georgetown and Sasakiwould be prepared to present information about the seven other dorm sites that had been considered.
Adding 225 beds to the north side of campus will be a step toward creating roughly equal population distribution of students between this area and the east and south sides of campus.
“Over the next five or six years, we probably have to add roughly 694 beds to meet the letter of the demand from the city of Georgetown,” Sasaki Principal Architect Ricardo Dumont said. “This first project will give us roughly 225 beds. What we’re looking to do is balance the distribution of beds from this unbalanced distribution.”
The Sasaki architects were pleased with the tone of the feedback at the Wednesday forum, saying it reflected well on the changes made to the design.
“We were encouraged that there was less acrimony today,” Dumont said. “We tried to be very open and honest at the last forum. We did that — it resulted in a lot of good feedback that they gave us and we incorporated into the design. We thought it was positive, and there’s still months left to design.”
Though student feedback was more positive than at the previous forum, some criticism remained. One student had a question about how handicapped accessible the building would be.
“It was a little disconcerting to be talking about the [Americans with Disabilities Act], and for Sasaki to just say ‘Oh, we’ll comply,’” Alyssa Peterson (COL ’14) said. “It really felt like they hadn’t made an effort to reach out to people with disabilities. It feels like they could be doing more.”
The next student forum will be held in September.