New Building to House School of Public Health and Health Services

The structure will unify the school’s departments, classrooms and research facilities for the first time.

May 14, 2010

The George Washington University announced today that it plans to break ground in 2012 on a new building for the School of Public Health and Health Services at Pennsylvania Avenue and 24th Street on Washington Circle.

The 108,000-square-foot structure, which is scheduled to be completed by summer 2014 and projected to cost $75 million, will be the first building visible to people who approach campus from the west on Pennsylvania Avenue.

SPHHS interim dean Josef Reum, Ph.D. ’00, says the school prides itself on its 18-month process of soliciting ideas from faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members about the design and construction of the building. “We looked at the space and our mission and designed a building that would speak to the community in the language of public health,” he says.

The building, which will house all the school’s seven departments, features research facilities, classrooms and conference spaces, and is compliant with the standards for silver LEED certification. “The principles of LEED came out of the field of public health,” says Dr. Reum, “so we have a commitment to make those real.”

According to Dr. Reum, the building, which will be designed by the Boston-based firm Payette, will incorporate several of the suggestions from the community, including a green roof, illumination from natural light and preserving a “huge” tree on the property.

The building will have a different look on each of its five sides. The 24th Street side will have a “residential feel” to integrate with the surrounding Foggy Bottom architecture. On the Pennsylvania Avenue side, pedestrians will see a lot of glass and seven floors of staggered classrooms. “It will be spectacular,” says Dr. Reum.

The building will also meet the needs of the 1,500 students in the school, which is currently spread out across eight locations, only one of which is on campus. Saving the cost for rent on seven off-campus locations on K and M streets is one of the sources of revenue that will fund the building.

Having a single building for the school will allow it, for the first time, to offer core graduate courses before 3 p.m., says Dr. Reum. The courses are currently offered in Ross Hall, and scheduling conflicts necessitate providing the courses in later in the afternoon.

“The synergy of bringing our departments and students together under a single roof for the very first time will be transformative for the school, the community, the nation and the world,” he says.

According to John F. Williams, M.D. ’79, Ed.D. ’96, provost and vice president for health affairs, the building will serve as a resource for scholars, government officials and international public health professionals.

“The new building will serve as an essential convening place for public health leaders from across the country and around the world that is conveniently located in the heart of the nation’s capital,” he says.

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