FDA commissioner, D.C. mayor and others celebrate new site’s promise for impact on city, nation and world.
The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new home Wednesday.
The ceremony was held on University Yard because the demolition of the Warwick Building on 2300 K Street – the site of the new SPHHS building – is still ongoing.
SPHHS Dean Lynn Goldman said the new building, which is expected to open in the spring 2014 semester, will revolutionize science, scholarship, service and the student experience in public health at GW.
“The construction of this building marks the first time in our history that the school will all be together under one roof, and as dean I’m so proud to be a part of this exciting transformation,” she said.
During his introductory remarks, George Washington President Steven Knapp thanked Dr. Goldman for bringing the project to fruition and for her leadership of the District’s only public health school. According to Dr. Knapp, SPHHS has the fastest growing research arm across all of GW’s schools, and the new building will serve as a central location for research in public health and collaboration between SPHHS and government and non-governmental organizations. Dr. Knapp also thanked the many SPHHS students who attended D.C. Zoning Commission hearings advocating for the new building.
The 115,000-square-foot building, which will be home to more than 200 full- and part-time faculty, 1,200 graduate and undergraduate students and staff, will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, research labs, departmental office space and conference rooms and an interior central atrium. The building, which will have seven floors above ground and two below, will be the first GW building visible to visitors who approach campus from Washington Circle and Pennsylvania Avenue.
FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said the location for the new building speaks to why the school is unique amongst the nation’s public health schools.
“Located blocks from the White House, Pan American Health Organization, Department of Health and Human Service, the World Bank, leading NGOs in health and health policy as well as very important Washington, D.C., organizations, our own health department and our own community organizations…it will clearly be well positioned to make a difference locally, nationally and globally,” said Dr. Hamburg.
The public health community will need the expertise of GW graduates, Dr. Hamburg said, as the world confronts an unprecedented array of challenges including emerging infectious disease threats and antibiotics resistance, chronic disease threats such as obesity and diabetes and the growing burden of disease associated with the nation’s aging population.
“Public health matters to each and every one of us, the communities we live in and the health, safety and well-being of our globe,” she said. “Public health must be a local and global enterprise.”
The notion of public health needing to be multifaceted is recognized by Dr. Goldman’s vision for SPHHS, Dr. Hamburg said.
“Her background as a scientist, government leader, advocate, educator and mentor uniquely positions her to understand the challenges and the opportunities of working within the political, scientific and the educational frameworks that shape public health accomplishments,” Dr. Hamburg said. “I’m confident that under her leadership the future building will be a home not only to labs and classes but above all to real-world ideas and solutions to some of the most pressing public health challenges.”
The building will be constructed with a range of green and sustainable materials, and the project will target a minimum of Gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
The ceremony brought together about 150 students, faculty, staff, school administrators, the SPHHS Dean’s Council, GW Board of Trustees members, alumni and others. Dr. Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman joined Dr. Goldman and other GW administrators, student leaders and department chairs in ceremonially breaking ground on the new building.
“We expect public health to increasingly dominate the landscape of this nation,” said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, B.A. ’64. “What an enormous contribution this school will make to the university and to the District of Columbia.”