Mason construction to continue into the fall semester and beyond
BY JACK HARVEY, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
Construction around Mason’s Fairfax campus proceeds into the 2019-2020 school year.
Students will notice the continued closure of the walkway between Southside and Wilkins Plaza, as well as newly-erected work zones throughout the Commons.
Construction of the New Academic Building remains underway, with a steel superstructure being erected on the site which used to be home to Robinson A.
A mock-up for the upcoming Enslaved People of George Mason memorial has also been erected on Wilkins Plaza next to Robinson B. The memorial is designed to honor the people enslaved at Gunston Hall, displaying the silhouettes of a girl named Penny and George Mason’s personal manservant, James.
According to project manager Cathy Pinskey, the mock-ups are intended in part to better help visualize the future location of the permanent memorial, which will be made of bronze panels, and to stoke interest and raise funds for the project.
The majority of construction happening on campus falls under the designation of the Core Campus Project. The project is split into two portions, one of them being improvements to utility infrastructure and the other being the replacement of Robinson Hall by as-yet-unnamed New Academic Building.
The utility infrastructure replacement consists of changes and upgrades to piping throughout Mason as well as the expansion of Wilkins Plaza, which will be widened in the area between the center of campus and the Commons.
The two projects are being done in tandem because portions of the piping being replaced run directly under the Plaza and the path to Southside. Over the summer, installation of new chilled water piping was completed in the zone that had been fenced off since last spring.
According Pinskey, throughout the coming semester trenching, installation, and restoration of new piping will proceed around the Commons and will eventually connect to the school’s central heating and cooling plant and Wilkins Plaza.
The Plaza itself will be improved over the course of the year with the installation of tables, benches, charging areas, and wifi, all of which are scheduled to be completed by spring break of 2020.
Finally, the George statue will be relocated from its current location to Holton Plaza in the fall semester.
The New Academic Building’s superstructure is to be completed in the fall. A mock-up of one of the building’s corners is scheduled to be built by the MIX in November, and the building’s exterior is to be completed in the late spring of 2020. The building is scheduled to be open for classes in the spring of 2021.
Harris Theater is also being renovated as part of the project. The building has had its fire alarm and sprinkler systems replaced and will be renovated further over the duration of the Core Campus Project.
Following the completion of the New Academic Building, Robinson B is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by an outdoor area. By fall of 2021, the majority of the Core Campus Project is expected to be completed.