Ceremony Marks Official Opening of Ames Hall

February 05, 2012

Provost Steven Lerman and GW trustee Cynthia Steele Vance attended an opening celebration for the newly renovated Mount Vernon Campus building Feb. 3.

Provost Steven Lerman, Associate Provost for the Mount Vernon Campus Shelly Heller and GW trustee Cynthia Steele Vance, MVC ’79, officially opened the doors of the newly expanded and renovated Ames Hall during an opening celebration Feb. 3 on the Mount Vernon Campus.

Ames Hall, now a 50,000-square-foot building on the Mount Vernon Campus Quad, features five stories of state-of-the-art classrooms, faculty offices, student lounges and study rooms. The building houses the largest classrooms on the Mount Vernon Campus—including a two-story lecture hall with tiered seating for 125 students —and is equipped with the latest technology, from LCD projectors and ceiling-mounted document cameras to interactive white boards and touch screen control systems. Ames also features eight, glass-enclosed group study rooms and a large, paved patio with outdoor furnishings overlooking the softball field.

In his remarks, Dr. Lerman noted the recent expansion of the Mount Vernon Campus, saying that Ames Hall will add to the “vitality” of the campus.

“We have now built a critical mass of students, faculty and facilities [on the Mount Vernon Campus] that I think will now elevate the already substantial contributions this campus makes to the overall university,” said Dr. Lerman. “I envision an ever-increasing level of intellectual energy that will now come here with the students and faculty interacting, and much of that will happen right here in Ames Hall.”

Ms. Heller detailed the history of Ames Hall, named after Anne Seymour Ames, an 1881 graduate of the Mount Vernon Seminary and the school’s first trained librarian, and how the new renovations match the vision of Elizabeth J. Somers, the founder of Mount Vernon College and Seminary.

“Nowhere else on this university is there a building like this,” said Dr. Heller. “Having the renovated and expanded Ames Hall on this campus celebrates our past, while providing timely and much-needed space on the beautiful Mount Vernon Campus, as we look toward the future.”

The revamped Ames Hall will house a number of academic departments and programs, including the University Writing Program and the University Honors Program, as well as ZeBi, a Panera-style café. All freshmen honors courses, first-year honors housing and an interdisciplinary faculty research center will also be based on the Mount Vernon Campus starting next fall.

Targeted for gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building rating system, the building incorporates a number of sustainable design elements such as a green roof, reflective shingles, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, insulated windows, motion-activated lights, bike racks and water bottle-filling stations.

Ms. Steele Vance recalled her days at Mount Vernon College, telling the audience that “no one” wanted to live in the old Ames Hall, which she described as “dark, dreary and a little spooky.” Today, Ames Hall is a “glorious” building, she said, adding it’s a “point of pride” to have the University Writing Program and the University Honors Program now housed on the campus.

“Mount Vernon is now poised for a second chapter, and I speak for myself and all my fellow alums when I say we are happy to be a part of it,” she said. “We are pleased that GW loves this campus as much as we did and has given it a new life.”

Other speakers included senior Alyssa Abraham, who shared her memories of Ames Hall during her four years on the campus, and Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight, who offered thanks to the university staff and outside partners who worked on Ames Hall.

Ames Hall Opening Celebration