Extensive renovations could be in the store for the Intercultural Center, home to Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, by next decade if fundraising efforts go as planned, SFS Dean Joel Hellman told students at a Feb. 27 event.
While no plans are in place to renovate even part of the ICC, Hellman said university officials have expressed interest in a renovation project if the SFS is able to raise enough money. The SFS, which will celebrate its centennial in 2020, is gearing up for a major centennial fundraising campaign that, if successful, could provide new opportunities for the school’s 36-year-old headquarters.
Hellman identified four key fundraising goals: reshaping the SFS curriculum, reimagining the classroom, recommitting to a globally engaged student body and improving the ICC.
Hellman discussed possible renovations and other centennial plans at February’s event, which drew about 26 students to the SFS’s third-floor ICC office. The event stressed the importance of student feedback in possible development plans and the broader vision of the SFS.
Hellman emphasized that many of these initiatives have already launched, including curricular changes such as a new science core requirement announced February 2018, new “Centennial Labs” classes focused on solving real-world problems and increased funding for international student scholarships.
Renovating the seven-story ICC, however, is a much larger project requiring upper-level university support, long-term logistical planning and extensive funding, Hellman said.
Hellman said his team worked with an architectural firm to develop three draft plans for ICC renovations that correspond with different levels of fundraising success, ranging from about $30 million to as much as $150 million.
Hellman noted the disjuncture between the physical state of the ICC and the prominence of the SFS’s academic programs. Hellman cited the school’s graduate and undergraduate program rankings as the No. 1 and No. 4 best institutions for international affairs education, respectively, in a survey of international relations scholars released last month by Foreign Policy.
“If we’re going to continue being the leading school of international affairs in the country, we’ve got to be thinking about what’s next for us,” Hellman said at the event.
Hellman said the ICC renovation could benefit not only SFS students, but also the entire Georgetown community. The ICC also houses the economics, history and government departments of the College.
Hellman identified three ranges of “intervention” possibilities in the ICC: renovation, expansion and “reimagining.” A renovation would focus on the building’s central atrium and classrooms, Hellman said, noting the often-criticized lack of windows in first- and second-floor classrooms.
Students attending the event focused heavily on the atrium’s faults during the Q & A portion, noting its limited lighting and furniture.
The second option, a relatively ambitious “expansion” of the ICC, would entail a heavily updated facade on Red Square, which would take advantage of the space currently occupied by an outdoor amphitheater to add a more open entryway into the ICC.
“Red Square is the civic heart of the Georgetown campus,” Hellman said.
The third and loftiest proposal, a full-scale reimagining of the building, would include the changes from a renovation or expansion, as well as updating the southern side of the building to create an “east-west corridor” connecting Red Square and the area near the Rafik B. Hariri Building, home of the McDonough School of Business.
Other desired updates include an event space on the seventh floor of the ICC overlooking the Washington, D.C. skyline, an option Hellman previewed with a mock-up featuring an image of the skyline taken from the seventh floor.
Hellman emphasized that ICC renovations are still uncertain. Plans are contingent on the outcome of fundraising efforts during the centennial, as well as the university’s other budget priorities, according to Hellman.
Although the renovation timeline stretches far into the future, the SFS leadership is open to hearing from students about short-term plans of interest to them for the ICC and centennial celebration, Hellman said.
“I’m very open to hearing what you’d like to do,” Hellman said. “It’s your school; it’s your history and your legacy.”