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Tuesday, July 26, 2011 2:18 p.m.

Zoning Commission issues order of approval for SEC

The Science and Engineering Complex is expected to be open for use in 2015.

The Science and Engineering Complex is slated to open for use in 2015. Artist rendering courtesy of the GW Office of Community Relations.

The D.C. Zoning Commission issued an order of approval Monday for the Science and Engineering Complex, giving GW a green light from the city to move forward with the most expensive building in University history.

In the 26-page report, the commission outlined the steps GW took to receive the approval and shot back against critics who complained the project would create traffic congestion in Foggy Bottom.

“The Commission finds that the character, scale, mix of uses and design of the Project are appropriate, and finds that the site plan is consistent with the intent and pruposes…to encourage high quality,” they wrote.

Approved by the Board of Trustees — GW’s top governing body — in October, the structure will add classroom and laboratory space for the science and engineering departments under one ceiling. University officials have touted the complex as a facility to boost GW to the level of a top-tier research institution.

The building is estimated to cost the University $275 million, and is expected to improve research by providing a physical space the University hopes will be used for innovative studies.

SEC construction began in late May, when the University Parking Garage at 22nd and H streets permanently shuttered to prepare for demolition.  The complex will also extend to 23rd Streeet behind the JBKO residence hall and sit in the place of Building K, a gym located on 23rd Street behind the JBKO residence hall that was originally built in 1914 as a church for a black congregation.

One of Foggy Bottom’s top advocacy groups repeatedly challenged the University’s proposed plans for the Science and Engineering Complex this year, saying too many questions about the effects of the project remain unanswered.

GW officials have projected the SEC will be completed by 2014 and open for use the following year. The University began a remarketing effort earlier this summer to rename the complex the Science and Engineering Hall to avoid confusion with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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