Endings and Beginnings (5/19/16)

Final examinations have now ended and graduation and the summer months rapidly approach. I hope you all did well and that you are now looking forward to at least a little relaxation. Because BBC adjusted its work schedule, we avoided any disturbances while administering final exams.

Although we enjoyed a relatively tranquil exam period, it was not an easy year for our Gewirz residents. For that I am sorry. The transition to a 24-hour construction schedule caused some difficult nights for some of the residents, especially those living on the west side of the building. To those of you who endured some sleepless nights, I wish it could have been otherwise. Alas, urban living can sometimes be taxing and so it was in Gewirz from time to time. That annoyance completely disappeared, however, for Walter Clapp and his friends. They bid on a tour of the project at the Equal Justice Foundation auction and were able to see Capitol Crossing in ways that few others will. Thanks to Rebecca Nordby, BBC project manager, who treated the students to a fabulous afternoon.

The month of May, in an academic year, is a time of endings and beginnings for students and faculty alike. Classes are over and finals are behind us. We all breathe easier as we contemplate the so-called lazy summer months and our next adventures. For faculty, it is a time to reexamine our work, reevaluate our approaches to teaching and learning, and perhaps to explore new areas of thought. We think and we write; and while the pace of summer slows us down, our lives remain full with promise as energy is restored.

For some students, May brings a hiatus from their studies. Perhaps you will indulge in a vacation or explore the possibilities of law firm or public interest work. The sultry summer nights may bring new romance or just maybe just longer hours at the firm or the internship. But even for those hard-working students, summer brings a bit of a break — at the beach or at the local pub with friends, or maybe watching with joy or heartaches the progress of their favorite teams. Go Nats! When the summer ends, they will return to their studies, ready to embark on another year of learning and growth.

For graduating students, May often marks the end of their formal education. Classes and final examinations are gone forever, though learning and yearning never stop. Commencement marks their new beginning — a transition into adulthood, into a career, and into far reaching dreams and challenges never before expected. For them, the past is the past and the future is limitless. Their younger classmates watch the commencement ceremonies and look forward to their own. The faculty watch as well, wistfully remembering their own graduation day, while quietly assessing a life’s work already in progress — a life still full of challenges even though the future no longer seems infinite.

As we approach the summer of 2016, life in our neighborhood continues in a less contemplative or sultry fashion. The BBC and PGP teams will also experience endings and beginnings, but for them there will be no respite and little time for reverie until Capitol Crossing is a reality. Several construction milestones have recently been achieved. The north block platform has been completed. That portion of the highway is now covered and awaits the vertical phase of development. On the 3rd Street side, the new entrance to the southbound lanes has been excavated back to 3rd Street. The roof of the 2ndStreet exit ramp is now complete and girders have been set for the G Street Bridge. Utility work continues and most of the remaining steel girders have been fabricated and are ready for delivery to the site.

While the workers, designers, and engineers savor these endings, new phases of construction begin. By the time we resume classes in August, the view to our west will look very different than it does now. A tower crane will be erected along 2nd Street between Massachusetts Avenue and G Street on June 11 and 12. Soon its boom will be swinging through the air as the first of five buildings begins to rise in mid-June at 200 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. By the time we return in the Fall, we will see concrete columns and slabs going up as the superstructure of the building takes form. Work on the platform of the center block across from McDonough Hall will also begin this summer, and by the end of December, most of the highway will be hidden from view.

Excavation for the building’s garage on the 3rd Street side of the project will also begin this summer. Before it begins, the trailers housing the BBC headquarters will move from their current location at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and 3rd Street to Cobb Park, that expanse of fenced-in green space on the north side of Massachusetts Avenue between 2nd and 3rdStreets. In addition, the District of Columbia’s former computer center, the one-story high and many-stories deep OCTO building (Office of the Chief Technology Officer) currently standing on the same lot as the BBC trailers, will be demolished. On our side of the project, work will continue on the East Concourse, the buildings’ mechanical and storage area that sits between the eastern property line of the project and the highway. More importantly, the exit ramp that brings traffic from the highway onto 2nd Street will be operational, albeit with the use of only one of the eventual two lanes for the duration of the summer. Most of 2nd Street, however, will remain a closed staging area for construction.

As the academic year comes to an end, take one last look as you walk away from the Law Center for the summer because the view will never be the same. To those of you who are graduating, I send my best wishes and my hope that you will fulfill the dreams you had when you entered Georgetown. If you have enjoyed these Construction Notes and wish to continue receiving them, please send me your new email address and I will place you on the public distribution list. To those of you who remain for the summer or who will return in August, Construction Notes will continue throughout the summer and into the next academic year.

For me, there has always been a sense of poetry in an academic year; so for now, in this month of endings and beginnings, I leave you with the words of Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet and playwright who once wrote, “Since when,” he asked “Are the first line and last line of any poem where the poem begins and ends?” Enjoy the summer.

Wally Mlyniec

SOURCES

Seamus Heaney, “The Fragment” in The Electric Light, Faber and Faber (2001)

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