Corcoran Renovations

3.1 ROBOTICS LAB 220 VIEW Credit: Leo A Daly

Which buildings are involved in renovations and relocations?

The George Washington University has launched a multiyear, multiphase renovation of the Corcoran School's Flagg Building. Renovations there have tackled $47.5 million out of an initial proposed $80 million project. The available funding ($47.5 million) was used in large part to add fire suppression systems, life safety systems, code-required fresh air and ventilation, new mechanical units including an emergency generator, modern plumbing, and code-compliant electrical systems. Additionally, the building had several key classrooms renovated, and accessibility features such as ramps installed throughout the space. This phase of work will end over Summer 2018, and future work will be scheduled as funding allows.

For a map of the current Flagg building, click here.

Smith Hall of Art has received several upgrades and studio relocations, including a reorganization of the photo and new media areas on the second floor. Expanded darkrooms are now finished and in operation, and exterior repairs to end perennial leaks have also wrapped up.

The Marvin Center offices of Theatre and Dance, as well as their costume shop and design lab, will be relocated out of that facility in late spring 2018. The costume shop and design studio will be relocated to Samson Hall. The offices of Theatre & Dance will join their black box studio and other offices in Building XX, known as “The Church.”

Samson Hall will host the costume shop and design studio, as well as the offices of the Museum Studies program. Other Columbian College departments besides the Corcoran will also live in Samson Hall, including the Department of Geography. Samson Hall’s renovation is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2018.

The Corcoran’s Interior Architecture Program, currently housed on the Mount Vernon campus, will join the Design Program, Studio Arts, and others in the Flagg Building. Studios being created within the second-floor galleries will be shared between Interior Architecture, Design, and other Corcoran programs.

Through all of these sites, particularly the Flagg Building, the Corcoran administration has been focused on working with the university Division of Operations and their contractors to carefully preserve the historic character of the building while bringing it up to date for our groundbreaking arts and design programs.

What is the timeline for construction?

The construction in the Flagg Atrium is set to be complete by the end of February, in time for the NEXT exhibition to open in 2018. By early summer, classrooms on the second floor will be open.

Scaffolding which has covered many of the building’s lay lights will be removed by March of 2018. On the second floor, half of the historic galleries will be turned over to the Corcoran’s new tenant, the National Gallery of Art. The other half of the galleries will be turned into classrooms, scheduled to open in June of 2018.

What can we expect to see once construction is complete?

For the Flagg Building, students can expect to see classrooms and learning spaces on every floor. The sub-basement’s wood and metal shops are now re-opening for classes and student work alike.

The basement level will continue to have painting and drawing studios, design classrooms, critique spaces, fabrication studios, etching and lithography studios, screenprinting, papermaking, and digital studios. Students with studio space will have 24/7  access to the basement level.

The first floor will have seminar rooms, galleries including GW’s Brady Gallery, critique spaces, a lighting studio, the auditorium, and additional digital studios.

The second floor will feature the National Gallery of Art spaces, the rotunda, design studios, small exhibit and critique spaces, and breakout rooms for students working on projects.

The 17th street "night doors" have already been re-installed at the Corcoran. In addition to the surface restoration and refinishing, hinges and other working elements of the doors have been repaired. At an estimated 2000 pounds each, having working hinges makes it a bit easier to open and close these doors!

What is being done to address health and safety concerns?

The health and safety of our students is something the entire school administration takes very seriously. As we work and teach inside the Flagg Building alongside our students, we are constantly reminded of the challenges of a learning space or workplace that is also a construction zone.

The University Division of Safety and Security is the only body authorized on campus to conduct air quality testing and take steps to remedy environmental factors such as air pollutants. The Division of Safety and Security has contracted a third party vendor to regularly test air quality inside the Flagg Building. The school has also successfully lobbied the construction management team to take added steps to clean the dust created from their work, and to install portable air scrubbers around the building. However, elevated concerns or specific inquires about the testing results must be directed to the only authorized office on campus: the Division of Health and Safety (safety@gwu.edu).

Responding to students who requested to see blue light distress call boxes installed outside the Corcoran, Kym Rice, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs worked with Sam Inman, Assistant Director for Operations and the construction team to arrange for their installation. Procurement is being finalized now, with installation expected soon. In the meantime, concerned students can consider using the GW PAL app, a mobile safety app for the university.

Day to day facility issues, general concerns, questions, ideas, or any other requests for information about any Corcoran School renovations should be sent to Sam Inman, Assistant Director for Operations (ssinman@gwu.edu)

For more information about the Flagg building’s history, click here.

What actions will GW continue to take to help ensure a safe environment?

As many of you are aware, staff from GW’s Office of Health and Emergency Management have engaged with the Corcoran community regarding this project and have evaluated and responded to concerns as they have arisen. In response to early complaints about dust caused by the renovations, the university’s contractors installed 12 air scrubbers. In addition, a protocol has been established for daily inspection of the air scrubbers and enhanced frequency of cleaning in the building during construction.

In addition, the university contracted with outside experts to conduct additional monthly air monitoring to ensure there are no harmful materials in the air. This spring, GW hired Triumvirate Environmental to conduct independent air monitoring in the building. The testing is based on national standards for air quality protection as defined by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Testing was conducted on March 23, April 21, and again on May 23 for the specific materials formaldehyde, asbestos, silica, lead, and Total VOC (as n-Hexane). The sampling results for all tests showed there was no health or regulatory cause for concern. All test results were within the acceptable range for federal standards,

Testing will continue on a monthly basis during the duration of construction. If results identify air samples that are not within regulatory standards, additional testing will be conducted and remediation efforts will be implemented to ensure air quality safety standards are being met. 

Although testing has shown the air to be safe, we do appreciate that some members of the community may wish to take extra precautions if they have specific concerns or sensitivities. To assist with this, facemasks that cover the nose and mouth are available for use by students, faculty and staff upon request in the director’s office suite.

For any general observations / questions about environmental Health and Safety within the Corcoran, please contact: safety@gwu.edu, or 202-994-4347. 

To read more about the air quality tests, click here