By Brittney Dunkins
The George Washington University announced plans Wednesday to relocate Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center to the ground floor of the Marvin Center, located at 800 21st St., NW, on the Foggy Bottom Campus.
The combined space will be centrally located on the entrance level and main floor of the current GW Campus Store, offering significantly expanded square footage and increased accessibility to serve the needs of the student community.
The space is tentatively slated to be occupied in the beginning of 2015.
“I want to thank our working group for its efforts to identify a permanent space on campus for these vital university services,” said President Steven Knapp. “Our Student Association leaders made a compelling case for co-locating health services and the counseling center to make them more accessible to students.”
Architecture firm SmithGroup JJR has been selected to design the new combined health and counseling space. The firm has led several successful higher education and medical facility projects, including the George Washington University Hospital, the residence hall at 1959 E St., NW, and Duques Hall, home of the School of Business.
The design phase began on Tuesday with a walkthrough with the architects and meetings with university stakeholders.
Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said that finding a location has been a top priority of the implementation team as mandated by Dr. Knapp in fall 2013.
The committee comprises Student Health Service Medical Director Isabel Goldenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students Mark Levine, Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia O’Neil Knight, Associate Vice President for Events and Venues Michael Peller, graduate student and Presidential Administrative Fellow Michelle Suarez, University Counseling Center Director Silvestro Weisner and Dr. Konwerski.
“After several months of meeting and benchmarking research that analyzed a number of options, we are excited to enter this next phase of design planning,” Dr. Konwerski said. “We look forward to working with both the clinical staff and students to design a warm, welcoming and caring setting where our students can seek out a variety of closely integrated wellness support services.”
SA President Julia Susuni, who is also a part of the implementation team, said the new location reaffirms the University’s commitment to improving mental and physical health resources and is a positive response to students’ call for an increase in accessibility and services.
“Following President Knapp's announcement in November, we received an overwhelming amount of supportive feedback from students who are enthusiastic about the increased availability of health services on campus,” Ms. Susuni said. “We are excited about this new location, and we look forward to working with the administration to see the project through to completion.”
Current plans for the GW Campus Store include retaining course materials, such as textbooks, technology and GW-branded merchandise on the lower level of the store, which will be accessible by a separate entrance on the lower level. The former STA Travel space on the ground floor would be repurposed for seasonal merchandise.
“The university will also explore another location that would sell branded merchandise,” Ms. Knight said. The university is currently discussing these options with Follet Corporation, which manages the store.
“The co-located SHS and UCC will benefit the campus community by providing a one-stop location for health resources,” Ms. Knight said. “The Marvin Center, which houses the Visitors Center, J Street, the GWorld Card office and Colonial Central, was the logical choice for this project as it is central to campus and easily accessible for students.”
“We are focused on delivering new spaces on campus that provide high-quality, convenient services to students,” she added.