Thursday, April 10, 2014
A Look Behind Georgetown University’s New Downtown Campus

On Thursday, April 10th, CREW hosted an informative evening featuring Georgetown University’s recently completed “Downtown campus” located at 640 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in DC’s East End neighborhood. Attendees learned about the development from key players intimately involved in the project, including:

Jodi Ernst – Georgetown University (User)
Stephanie Heffernan – Cassidy Turley (Leasing)
John Landry – Brookfield Properties (Owner)
Brian Pilot – STUDIOS Architecture (Architect)
Matthew Weirich – DAVIS Construction (Contractor)

The dynamic panel examined how the primary stakeholders created a sense of trust and transparency to communicate and reach common goals. Attendees heard about the challenges and victories associated with building such a unique higher education facility, in a non-traditional educational building and non-traditional neighborhood. Attendees learned the history of Georgetown’s search for the right space for the school and the path to get to where it is today. In particular, Georgetown’s Jodi Ernst delved into the details of getting the school’s decision makers on board with the location (i.e., the idea of not being at – or near – 37th and O Streets NW) and explained how the expansion is in line with the school’s mission of educating students to be self-reflective, critical thinkers committed to serving others. Cassidy Turley’s Stephanie Heffernan told the story of the two year search for the right space for the school and how they ultimately secured the 91,000 square foot lease. She noted that the main driver behind selecting the location was always the Campus Plan (Georgetown’s commitment to the city to move 1,100 grad students out of Georgetown – i.e., 20007 zip code – by 2014). John Landry from Brookfield Properties described how the building’s location was a key driver for the attractiveness of the space and discussed why the school was a good fit as the new tenant for the space. Brian Pilot from Studios Architecture explained the design process to create the state-of-the-art space – one that re-imagines the educational experience for 21st century for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders. He also talked about how the facility offers a unique environment for students and faculty to collaborate and learn and noted that the space features 30 classrooms with integrated technology, 14 group study rooms, a 125-person auditorium, digital media lab and broadcast studio, interfaith chapel, library, bookstore, café and multiple functional lounge spaces. To conclude the panel portion of the evening, DAVIS Construction’s Matthew Weirich highlighted the complexity of completing construction in ten short months in order to be ready to open for the fall 2013 semester. He also discussed the challenges of building on such a tight spot and how the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) as the main construction delivery tool helped to deliver the project on time and under budget.

The insightful evening concluded with a tour of Georgetown’s wonderful, and highly-functional, new space. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this great event.

See the transformation of GU’s new space from construction to completion in a great 1-minute video at