Construction Continues: On-Campus Developments Far From Over

by   Posted on February 15th, 2010 in Uncategorized

Reuben Jones, Broadside Correspondent

If you are tired of waking up to the smell of asphalt and burning rubber, your dreams of a construction-free campus are unfortunately far away.

According to Tom Calhoun, the vice president of Facilities, this summer will be even busier with construction than last summer which saw the building of the RAC, Engineering Building and the Art and Design Building.

Beginning as soon as this April, the newest building of many to come is expected to open. The Aquia Building is being built by West Hall and, when completed, will be the permanent home for the University Data Center. The building will also serve as a temporary location for classrooms and offices that will be affected by the Thompson and West Hall renovations.

The 157-unit Masonvale housing center should be completed by April of 2010. Masonvale contains townhomes and stacked flats for George Mason University staff and faculty.

Expected to be finished this summer is the addition onto the Performing Arts Center. The addition will add “dance and orchestra practice and performance spaces and a Wellness Center,” according to the Mason facilities website.

The much-anticipated Mason Inn is also expected to finish this June and to be ready for prospective tenants by July. The hotel will have 150 rooms and a large 20,000 square-foot conference center. The Mason Inn will be located next to the RAC.

Before fall semester begins, a new residence hall called Hampton Roads will open. The project will add an additional 400 beds, totaling 600 beds with Eastern Shore. And in the early summer, a late-night Ike’s-style joint specializing in brick-oven pizza called the Pilot House will open.

Student Union Building I will undergo a major addition added onto the back of the building. Many offices that are currently in SUB I will move or expand into the addition, allowing for more space. The construction is expected to end by early August.

Students who have classes at the Prince William Campus will also see major changes as the Hylton Performing Arts Center opens in May and the Biomedical Research Lab opens this summer.

The Prince William Arts Center will hold a 1,100 seat performance hall, as well as a rehearsal and performance space and two rehearsal rooms. It is estimated that the new arts center will attract 163,000 people during its first year.

According to the Hylton website, the total cost of the project is $63 million with primary funding coming from George Mason University, Prince William County, the city of Manassas and state support.

The Biomedical Research Lab will be a Bio-Safety Level-3 laboratory that will support the Center for Bio-defense and Infectious Diseases.
Research at the facility will focus on pathogens considered by the U.S. government to be potential bioterror threats. Examples of threats are those that cause anthrax, tularemia and plague.

Perhaps the most exciting edition for students on the Fairfax campus, however, is a major renovation that will occur inside the current Student Union Building II.

The first and second floors of SUB II will be completely revamped as a new burger restaurant and state of the art game room move in. All student activities offices and student media will move to SUB II. This will also relocate the Corner Pocket and current Game Room in SUB I.

Prior to the announcement of Ciao Hall becoming a burger restaurant, some students believed a second dining hall would appear. With Southside experiencing long lines and sparse tables during lunch and dinner, many hoped for another dining option.

“Southside is always packed,” said Leah Gibson, a freshman sustainability major. But Mohamed Ahmed, a freshman government and international politics major, believes the new burger restaurant will take “some of the pressure off of Southside.”

Regional District Manager of Sodexo Denise Ammaccapane admits Southside has been crowded this year, but she adds that it is “not a bad problem to have.”

Ammaccapane also says that the Pilot House may be considered a second dining hall during dinner and will “take some heat off of Southside.”

As of now, the Pilot House will be the only option for a second dining hall as there are no plans for an official second dining hall to be added on campus.

The projects mentioned above are only construction projects planned for the end of this year. Many other projects are in the works and have already been slated for 2011 and beyond.

Students who are concerned about the continuous construction on campus are assured by Calhoun that it “will let up after this summer.”
However, Calhoun does say that “it’s not going to stop,” which he argues is a good thing. “I wouldn’t want to be a student at a university without any construction,” said Calhoun.

With a significant increase of Mason’s on-campus population over the last decade, Calhoun believes that “the whole culture change is very exciting. [The university] still has a way to go, [but] we have turned a corner on campus.”

For more informaton regarding construction on campus, please visit Mason’s Facilities website at

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