After reviewing a concept proposal for the Northeast Triangle dorm Wednesday morning, the Old Georgetown Board postponed further consideration of the project until its next meeting in September, when Georgetown would be prepared to present all seven dorm options that were explored earlier this year.
The meeting took place two days after the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E unanimously voted to approve the dorm Monday night. OGB and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts must approve the building plans before Georgetown can begin construction, which it hopes to do by spring 2014.
OGB members objected to both the lack of information about alternative options and finished nature of the concept proposal.
“You have got a very finished presentation here. I might just comment that it would be better for us to review a building of this nature in a much sketchier kind of quality,” OGB member David Cox said. “I think part of what you are hearing in that student reaction is that it looks like it’s a done deal. This thing looks like it’s very far down the line in terms of its thought process.”
The current proposal, designed by Sasaki Associates, depicts a seven-story structure that would house 250 sophomores beginning in fall 2015. Northeast Triangle would aid Georgetown in housing 90 percent of undergraduates on campus by 2025, a requirement of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement.
During her presentation to OGB, Assistant Vice President for Planning and Project Management Regina Bleck, joined by two Sasaki architects, described the design as “a transitional element that makes a bridge from the historic quad and the stone work there to the largely brick district on the north side of campus.” However, the proposal has provoked criticism from students and alumni for its design and location on one of the last green spaces available on campus. Approximately 20 students sent emails to OGB ahead of the meeting to note objections to the design.
Following the presentation, the board opened the floor for comments. Alumnus Timothy Walton (SFS’10) criticized the design and cited passionate student and alumni comments on social media that described the design as a “monstrosity” and “hideous.” Walton compared the design for the Northeast Triangle to Lauinger Library and Reiss Science Building, which he said were the least appealing buildings on campus.
“Instead of emulating the best, we went after the worst,” Walton said.
Other concerns raised during the discussion included the fence behind the dorm separating the university and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, visibility of the dorm from off campus and its cooling system.
The next OGB meeting will take place Sept. 4. Walton said he was happy with the OGB’s decision to postpone further discussion on this proposal, but said he was dissatisfied with what he saw as insufficient student and alumni input in the dorm proposal.
“I appreciate that the Old Georgetown Board took time to recognize the need for evaluating alternatives and other options as part of the Georgetown master plan and looking for a design that is more consistent with the best of Georgetown’s architecture,” Walton said.