Renovations are planned in the next year for both the Reiss Science Building and the Intercultural Center on an unreleased timeline to address structural and functional concerns in the two buildings.
The renovations in Reiss and the ICC mark the first time the Office of Planning and Facilities Management has organized large-scale changes to address facilities concerns in academic buildings this year. Plans to renovate Reiss have existed since at least 2013, when university officials discussed the future of the building at an Old Georgetown Board meeting.
Dean of the School of Foreign Service Joel Hellman held an event in February 2018 on the school’s upcoming centennial in 2020 that included a discussion on improving the ICC. At the event, Hellman said his team has worked with an architectural firm to develop three draft plans for ICC renovations that correspond with different levels of fundraising success for the school’s centennial push, ranging from about $30 million to as much as $150 million.
The Reiss renovations, which are expected to be completed in the next year, will include revamping academic spaces, according to a university spokesperson.
The renovations include a lab for the Georgetown Environment Initiative scheduled to be completed by fall 2019 and a new student study space in the Blommer Science Library area scheduled to be finished by summer 2020, according to the university spokesperson.
In preparation for the intended renovation of Reiss, Blommer, located on the third floor of the building, will close permanently, and its materials will be relocated to Lauinger Library within the next six to 12 months.
“Planning and Facilities Management is working closely with the Library to ensure the Blommer Library materials are relocated in a safe and secure manner as renovations commence,” the university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The library has suffered from flooding and damaged materials in the past, according to Rebecca Hollister (COL ’21), a student worker in Blommer. Blommer reportedly experienced water issues over winter break because of problems with pipes and cold weather, according to Hollister.
“The periodicals and journals took the biggest hit—a lot of those were absolutely destroyed,” Hollister wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Some of the books were destroyed as well, but we were able to recover a good amount of materials.”
In February 2019, a $75 million maintenance plan to alleviate building maintenance issues was approved by the Georgetown University board of directors. The plan comes after 85 students were relocated from their top-floor apartments in Alumni Square to the Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center over concern relating to potential structural issues in the apartment roofs.
The deferred maintenance plan aims to improve the conditions of Georgetown’s existing infrastructure and would allocate an additional one-time $50 million attachment, as well as a phased increase in annual spending from $5 to $25 million over the next five years. The funds are set to be allocated to the university’s deferred maintenance budget, which includes projects that repair existing buildings instead of constructing new ones.
In addition to renovating Reiss, facilities is asking administrators and students for feedback prior to conducting renovations in the ICC, according to an email sent to students April 11. No timeline or details have yet been given, but the renovations are expected to improve the galleria and other common spaces in the ICC, according to the email.
The SFS Academic Council developed plans for short-term ICC renovations in collaboration with the SFS Dean’s Office, the provost’s office, the MUG coffee shop, architects and other independent parties, according to the April 11 email.
“Our goal is to improve the Galleria, the elevator bays, and other common spaces in the ICC, in order to make it a more functional and usable space,” the email said.
Georgetown has experienced an increasing number of housing problems in student residences since the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year. Facilities responded to 361 mold-related work requests in residences between August and October of last year, more than double the number reported during that time frame in 2017, and students in Darnall and Reynolds Halls reported malfunctioning elevators last fall.
While the renovations of Reiss include two projects that are currently scheduled for completion in fall 2019 and summer 2020, facilities will assess whether sustained renovations will be necessary, according to the university spokesperson.
“Planning and Facilities Management is continuing planned renovations within the Reiss Science Building and will continue evaluating longer-term renovations in conjunction with academic and masterplanning efforts,” the university spokesperson wrote.