Mason’s Northeast Sector: Soon, a New Neighborhood

By Laura Jeffrey

With an August groundbreaking at the Fairfax Campus, Mason officially launched the biggest construction project in the university’s history. When the project is completed, the result will not simply be more buildings. “It’s an entire new neighborhood we’re constructing,” explains Paul Barkett, director of housing and residence life.

The $75 million, 450,000-square-foot project called the Northeast Sector Development Plan, comprises seven new buildings that will offer the vitality, energy, and convenience of an urban neighborhood. Mixing housing for more than 1,000 students with retail shops, restaurants, a new dining hall, a fitness center, and other spaces, the neighborhood will be linked by a pedestrian mall.

“I am truly excited about what this project will bring to improving Mason life,” says President Alan Merten.

The five buildings that incorporate student housing will be five to six stories tall. The buildings have been designed so that housing is on the upper levels while the ground levels include retail spaces such as shops, a coffee house, a convenience store, a pizza and pasta restaurant, and office space.

The sixth building in Mason’s new neighborhood will be a two-story fitness center that features weight and workout rooms and indoor basketball and racquetball courts. The seventh building, also two stories tall, will house the new resident dining facility. The plan is to offer exhibition-style cooking similar to what is offered at Wegmans, the upscale, New York-based grocery store chain that recently opened locations in Sterling and Fairfax. When the new dining facility opens, Ciao Hall, the current dining hall in Student Union Building II, will be renovated as a one-stop shop for various student services. A second dining facility is slated to open on campus by 2010.

The housing in the Northeast Sector Development Plan has been designated for second- and third-year students, says Chris Chisler, director of university services. By fall 2007, housing will be ready for approximately 350 students. An additional 200 beds are scheduled to be completed by spring 2008. This housing will be primarily suite-style, with groups of four to six students sharing a small living area and one or two bathrooms. The remaining 460 beds, styled as apartments and efficiencies, are expected to be completed by fall 2008.

Stephen Khovananth of J3 Associates in Alexandria is managing the design-build project for Mason. The design-build contractor for the Northeast Sector Development Plan is Dustin Construction of Gaithersburg, Maryland, which selected Hanbury, Evans, Wright, Vlattas + Company of Norfolk to design the project.

For more information about the project, visit