Founders Hall Taking Shape on Arlington Campus

Posted: February 22, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: February 19, 2010 at 4:31 pm

By Dave Andrews

The final outlines of the new Founders Hall are now visible. Photo by Rick Jensen

Cruise down Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Va., and you’ll notice at least one significant change — there’s no longer a huge crater in the middle of Mason’s Arlington Campus.

In what used to be an average parking lot, now stands the completed framework for the seven-story Founders Hall. Construction is progressing quickly, despite unfavorable weather conditions.

“We’ve definitely had our share of setbacks due to weather,” says Rick Jensen, Founders Hall project manager. “But overall, the project is shaping up well. Work on the structure has really taken off ever since we moved above ground level.”

The building is a massive addition to the Arlington landscape that will boast a 300-seat auditorium, 438-seat library, 450-space underground parking garage, 35 classrooms and 256,000 square feet of office space.

The building will primarily house the School of Public Policy. Additional office space has been allocated to the School of Law, as well as to Facilities Management, Health Services and University Life. The building will also have a bookstore and café.

Workers recently completed the exterior framework and installed most of the windows. The interior stairs were just finished, and work continues on the eight elevators.

An artist's renderings of the building's plaza, above and below.

In the coming weeks, the building will become completely enclosed, water will be connected and workers will begin hanging drywall on levels two and three. Soon there will be a steel bridge tie-in with the Foundation Building, and by the end of spring break 2010, the lobby tie-in to Hazel Hall will be finished.

Late this summer, when construction finishes up and the work vehicles clear out, the campus will feature a half-acre public plaza. The University Naming Committee, in conjunction with Arlington County, agreed to call it Virginia Square Plaza. It is intended to be a community gathering place, with movable seating, bulletin boards, information kiosks and space for art displays and performances.

“The building’s many features will not only enhance the campus’ academic capabilities, but they will also enable Mason to host a wide array of university and community events,” says Larry Czarda, vice president for administration.

“Expanding these resources will support our goals of strengthening our partnership with Arlington County and the surrounding Virginia Square community.”

While construction will be completed by September, the building will not officially open for classes until January 2011. Millions of dollars worth of furniture, fixtures and equipment will be installed this fall, including kitchen equipment, audiovisual systems and bookstore and café furnishings.

Founders Hall represents the second phase of a three-phase redevelopment project for the Arlington Campus. In the first phase, Hazel Hall, which houses the School of Law, was completed in 1998. The plans for phase three include the eventual replacement of the Original Building with a new building that will provide 750,000 square feet of academic and office space.

Additional updates on the Arlington Campus construction can be found at arlington.gmu.edu/newconstruction.html.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu