By William Barnhart, Columnist
Last year, the demolition of Robinson Hall was announced in order to accomodate space for a new building. Some say that it’s a great opportunity to improve the campus, but I think it’s a very flawed plan. I believe this plan is flawed because the disruption to the campus will be too significant to justify immediately replacing Robinson Hall with a new building. There are multiple arguments that could be made against the replacement of Robinson Hall, but the focus of this article is to consider its effect on students.
Lecture Hall is an example of a building that needs to be replaced. It houses only two large lecture halls and it’s a single-floor building, which could be replaced by a much larger building. Based upon the quality of the interior, it does not appear that it’s retained for posterity. When Lecture Hall is compared to its surrounding buildings, it sticks out like a sore thumb for its size and its aesthetic design. If the goal is to modernize the campus, Lecture Hall should obviously be the first building to go. Another building could use the space more efficiently.
Based upon the recent completion of Peterson Hall, it’s evident that Mason’s administration wants to expand its Fairfax campus. However, the current planned process will undoubtedly cause a disruption to normal campus activities. Robinson Hall is home to many offices, classrooms, and even a small library. The current process of demolition involves removing Robinson Hall A in the Summer of 2018 followed by Robinson Hall B in 2021. It’s said that a replacement building will be immediately finished once Robinson Hall B is demolished. However, how can we as a student body be so certain that it will be done in time? The construction of Peterson Hall took a year longer than expected. This construction project should be time-sensitive because it could potentially affect students’ ability to take particular classes.
With the current size of the student body increasing, it’s very concerning to see how the administration is aggressively trying to expand. There are other issues on campus that cause trouble for students. The Mason community is continually growing, which means that there has to be more accomodations made for the population. This could involve creating more space for commuters to park or more housing for students. Should the university choose to ignore these needs, then there is no reason to build more classrooms on campus.
In all fairness, the project could definitely improve the campus. Robinson Hall is known to have faulty plumbing, asbestos and other issues that are costly to repair. A new building could bring more modern classrooms to replace the unwelcoming rooms of Robinson Hall. The completion of Peterson Hall is definitely an improvement for the campus and the replacement of Robinson Hall can do the same. The main issue is that there should be planning done to minimize the effects of a building demolition on the campus. If you’re interested in the progress of the construction, you can visit the website at robinson.gmu.edu or @Redo_Robinson on Twitter.
Photo by Nicolas Macotto