University Hall Move-In Under Way

Posted: May 16, 2011 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: May 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

By Dave Andrews

The move-in to University Hall has begun. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Construction is finished. Inspections are complete. It’s time to move.

University Hall is move-in ready after nearly a year and a half of construction. Administrative offices from across campus will find a new home in the $45 million building that stands at the corner of University Drive and George Mason Boulevard.

For months, Facilities project managers have been carefully orchestrating what will be Mason’s largest office shuffle to date. At least 14 offices and dozens of smaller units will move into the building between now and June 8, including:

  • Alumni Affairs
  • Auxiliary Enterprises and University Services
  • Budget
  • Fiscal Services
  • George Mason University Foundation
  • Human Resources and Payroll
  • Institutional Assessment
  • Institutional Research and Reporting
  • Intercollegiate Athletics and Patriot Club
  • Information Technology Unit
  • Risk Management
  • Sponsored Programs
  • University Relations
  • University Development

First Tenant: HR and Payroll

The Office of Human Resources and Payroll is the first office to move into the new digs. From now until May 20, HR will offer limited services as the staff tackles moving thousands of files, materials and equipment out of the Commerce Building and into the fourth floor of University Hall.

“We’re very excited to finally, finally, finally get to be on campus,” says Linda Harber, associate vice president of Human Resources and Payroll. “The new location should make it much easier for our customers to drop by and see us, and that will make for a much warmer and friendlier atmosphere.”

HR’s New Employee Welcome Center will also find a new home in University Hall. The center will be larger than it was in the Commerce Building, making life more comfortable for new Mason employees, especially during the busy seasons at the beginning of each semester.

Harber acknowledges that it’s been hectic as HR moves to a new building after so many years in Commerce. But she and her staff have a positive outlook.

“Such a large-scale move has its share of challenges, but the long-term positives certainly outweigh any frustrations we’ll likely encounter in the next couple of weeks,” she says.

Harber jokingly compares the moving process to planning a wedding.

“It’s both exciting and stressful at the same time. You just hope everyone still likes each other when it’s all over.”

Retailers Lining Up

The top four floors of the five-story University Hall will be primarily multi-unit administrative suites. The first floor has nearly 10,000 square feet of academic classroom space and more than 7,800 square feet of retail space.

The university is finalizing a list of retailers who will best fit the building and its location. Currently, only Einstein Bagel Bros. has signed a lease for retail space. Other prospective tenants with signed letters of intent to lease space include UPS, an organic food restaurant and Panda Express, a fast-food chain serving Chinese fare.

Most of the retail spaces will be accessible even when the building is closed after normal business hours.

Architecturally, the building is slightly different and much more modern than most other buildings on campus. Though not certified, the building was built to LEED standards and boasts various sustainable features.

One of the most noticeable features — from both the interior and exterior — is the south façade, which is mostly glass. The floor-to-ceiling windows allow a majority of the work spaces to be naturally illuminated, making the building not only eco-friendly but also visually appealing.

As a result of so many offices moving into University Hall, many more offices will be shifting into the vacated spaces. What will happen to the Commerce Building, which the university leases, has not yet been determined. The lease expires in October.


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