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Spirited Growth of Mason Continues Through Construction Projects

By Laura Martinez Massie

Bulldozers, cranes, and jackhammers have been part of the George Mason University landscape since 1964, when it moved to Fairfax from Bailey's Crossroads. The year 1997 has been no different, though there has been more action at the university's campuses in Prince William and Arlington Counties.

The university's permanent site in Prince William County opened for business the first day of the fall 1997
Academic I in Prince William opened in time for fall semester classes to be offered there.
semester, with the opening of Academic I, a 100,000-square-foot classroom building. Total cost of the project was $16.5 million. The building contains a bookstore/general store, cafeteria, small and large lecture classrooms, a fully equipped library, labs, and administrative offices.

Academic II is currently under construction and is projected to be completed in spring 1998. At a total project cost of $20.4 million, this three-story, 88,238-square-foot building contains classroom and office space. It is a shared research facility with the American Type Culture Collection, which has broken ground on its own new headquarters to be located adjacent to the Prince William Campus.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 1 at the Prince William Campus for an indoor, regional recreation center. The two-story, 110,000-square-foot public recreation center, which is expected to be completed in summer 1999, is the result of a tripartite agreement among the City of Manassas, Prince William County, and George Mason to serve the citizens of the city, county, and students and staff of George Mason. The university will operate and maintain the center with assistance from the city and county, says H. Randall Edwards, executive vice president at Mason.

The center, situated on 13 acres, will house a natatorium with a 50-meter competition pool; spectator seating for 500; leisure pool and whirlpool; gymnasium; weight training and fitness rooms; aerobics rooms; racquetball courts; a wellness center with fitness assessment and testing lab; locker rooms with a sauna; child care area; multipurpose meeting room; lounge spaces; and administrative offices. The total project cost is approximately $18.3 million.

These first three buildings--the two academic buildings and the recreation center--are just the beginning of a master plan that will eventually create a campus of 12 to 14 buildings serving approximately 8,000 students. The 125-acre wooded Prince William Campus is intended to grow as the community grows, Edwards says. As one of Mason's distributed campuses, Prince William focuses on the needs of the community and has a research emphasis in biosciences, bioinformatics, biotechnology, and computer and information technology. Other areas of study include education; administration of justice; civil, environmental and infrastructure engineering; and health, fitness, and recreation resources.

Phase I of new construction at the Arlington Campus, which includes a new law school facility and 1,100-space underground parking garage, is projected to be completed in fall 1998. Estimated cost of this project is $18 million.

Construction began last spring on the Fairfax Campus's new aquatic and fitness center, located adjacent to the University
The new Aquatic and Fitness Center on the Fairfax Campus is expected to open during the summer of 1998.
Police station and the Presidents Park residence hall complex. The $10.6-million project is expected to be completed in summer 1998. The 68,000-square-foot facility will house an Olympic-sized swimming pool, complete with electronic timers, scoreboard, diving boards, and spectator seating. In addition, there will be a smaller, 20-meter by 25-yard, warm-water recreational pool for lap swimming, lessons, and physical therapy.

The new facility also will contain locker rooms, a whirlpool, wet and dry classrooms, a fitness gallery, meeting rooms, and sunbathing area that is part grass and part pavement next to the main pool deck. The complex is handicapped accessible.

Primary beneficiaries of the facility will be physical education majors and recreation swimmers. In addition, Intercollegiate Athletics is studying the possibility of including of a swimming and diving team at Mason.

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