Introducing West Hall

August 16, 2010

View of room in Mount Vernon's West hall including bed, dresser and desk

Next week 288 students will be moving into a brand new residence hall on George Washington’s Mount Vernon Campus.

In addition to housing hundreds of freshman and sophomores, West Hall will serve as a campus life center for the entire GW community.

“The opening of West Hall is the culmination of many significant changes that have taken place on the campus, further enhancing Mount Vernon as an attractive, dynamic center for academic and student life,” says Steven Lerman, GW’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Construction began on the residence hall in the summer of 2008. Formerly called Pelham Hall, which was named after Peter Pelham, the former president of Mount Vernon College, the building will now be known as West Hall. To preserve the Pelham legacy, a significant interior space will be named Pelham Commons.

The residence hall includes 62 suites, each with four individual bedrooms. Each suite has a communal bathroom, living area, microwave and refrigerator. On each of the four residential floors, there is a communal study area, laundry room and kitchen.

There are also eight handicapped-accessible suites, eight suites reserved for residential life staff and two apartments for faculty-in-residence.

The bottom two floors of the building house student life amenities, including a fitness center, dining hall, dance studio, studio art room and two art galleries. There’s also several meeting rooms, which can accommodate 10 to 100 people, several music practice rooms and a black box theater – a large square room with black walls designed for its versatility. Students will also have access to a recording studio with a drum set, keyboard and other musical equipment.

“I am extremely excited at the many resources West Hall brings to the Mount Vernon Campus and to GW in general,” says Dr. Lerman. “This new residence hall is going to be a focal point for a wide variety of university activities and events and will raise the level of student life at GW.”

Members of the GW community are invited to an open house on Oct. 16 during Colonials Weekend.

Aly Azhar a rising sophomore who will be a house proctor in West Hall this fall says the residence hall and all of its amenities will do “a lot of good for the Vern.”

This year, there will be almost 700 GW students living on the Mount Vernon Campus.

While the top four floors will only be accessible to the students living in the residential suites, the bottom two floors will be open to all students.

The residence hall was initially intended to house only freshman, but there were so many requests for rising sophomores that now about one-third of the students moving in this fall will be sophomores.

Phil Gardner is one of those sophomores.

“The fact that it’s a new building was the big draw for me,” says Mr. Gardner, who is studying political science in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. “And there are so many cool features the building has to offer.”

Mr. Gardner says he is also looking forward to having his own individual bedroom and only having to share a bathroom with three other students.

As part of the university-wide sustainability efforts, GW has applied for Gold certification for West Hall under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Among West Hall’s sustainable features are low-flow faucets, toilets and showers, which will reduce water usage in the building by about 50 percent. Native and adaptive plants were also chosen so that there would not be a need for a permanent irrigation system, thus reducing even more water consumption.

“I think it’s great that GW is making an effort at being sustainable by building West Hall,” says Mr. Azhar, who is studying international affairs in the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Solar light tubes, which transport natural light to the bottom two floors, were installed outside in the courtyard. Energy Star appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines, will use about 20 percent to 30 percent less energy. Organic paints were used throughout the building, and 90 percent of the construction waste during the renovation project was recycled or salvaged.

And in addition to providing bike storage for 15 percent of the residents, two priority parking spaces have been reserved for low-emission and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Earlier this year, South Hall, which is located at 2135 F Street, NW, was the first university building in the District to earn LEED Gold certification.

The official opening celebration for West Hall will be held on Oct. 16 during Colonials Weekend to coincide with the Mount Vernon Campus’ annual Octoberfest festival. The October date was selected so individuals and organizations using West Hall’s student life space will be familiar with the building’s amenities and can showcase these features to visitors attending the celebration.

Construction will continue this fall on the Mount Vernon Campus as Ames Hall undergoes a renovation and receives an addition to transform the building into new academic space.