New Arlington Building Offers Lots of Naming Opportunities

Posted: March 5, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Building Patiot Pride logo

Naming a new $100 million building is a high-pressure task, especially one that has captured the attention of thousands of area residents, commuters and visitors ever since work began on it more than two years ago.

Such is the case with the extensive construction project on the Arlington Campus. Though the building won’t be completed until the spring of 2010, the time came to give it a name. After much deliberation, Mason’s Naming Committee decided to go with the name Founders Hall.

“There are countless things to consider when naming a building, especially one of this size, location and significance,” says Larry Czarda, vice president for administration and Naming Committee member.

Czarda says the committee implements a few basic principles in name creation. Names should fall into one of these categories: historical references to George Mason, the man; geographical names such as rivers, counties and regions of Virginia; and honorary designations resulting in names such as the George W. Johnson Center and David King Hall.

Initially, the committee was looking for names of local leaders who influenced the founding of the Arlington Campus. Their search led them to C. Harrison Mann Jr., a person of whom few have heard.

“In a sense, he is arguably the father, not just of the Arlington Campus, but of George Mason University,” Czarda says.

In the late 1940s, Mann, an Arlington lawyer and member of the General Assembly, introduced legislation to authorize the University of Virginia to begin academic programming in Northern Virginia. He later introduced legislation that gave UVA the authority to take over the abandoned elementary school in Bailey’s Crossroads, Va., where the university opened a branch campus. Mann also served on the first advisory board to what later became George Mason College. He died in 1977.

At first, the naming committee thought it would be perfect to name the building after Mann. But rather than honoring just one influential person, the naming committee felt the more general name of Founders Hall would enhance the naming opportunities within the building. The name “Mann” could be given to an interior space.

“This is a much more feasible idea than waiting for a donor to make a significant enough donation to have the building named in their honor. The name Founders Hall is safe in that regard,” Czarda says. Though, he jokes, “No one would be upset if it suddenly became the Gates Building or the Oprah Building, or whoever else has that kind of money.”

Founders Hall is a massive addition to the Arlington landscape. The seven-story building will boast 256,000 square feet of classrooms, office space and an auditorium, as well as a much-anticipated 450-space parking garage. With all that space, the naming committee foresees numerous naming opportunities inside.

The large public plaza outside Founders Hall was also recently named. The committee, in conjunction with Arlington County, agreed upon the name Virginia Square Plaza. Years ago there was a Virginia Square Shopping Center, which is where the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Arlington Campus now sit. The location next to the “Virginia Square/GMU” Metrorail stop made the finalization of the name even easier.

Of course, donors are always welcome to come forward and put their name on a building with a generic name. To learn more about building naming opportunities, contact Marc Broderick, vice president for university development and alumni affairs.

Write to at