George Washington University – Thurston Hall Renovation

  • area / size 200,000 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • SMBW and VMDO Architects collaborated on the vibrant Thurston Hall Renovation for George Washington University in Washington DC.

    Thurston Hall at George Washington University is an 11 story first-year residence hall located on the university’s Foggy Bottom campus. SMBW worked with VMDO to fully renovate the existing building with the goal of enhancing the first-year student experience. The project focused on creating a new living and learning community where students feel welcome and connected to their peers.

    Thurston has inviting community kitchens, lounges, studies, and bathrooms on each floor intended to draw students out of their rooms and connect with others. The patterned corridors have widened pockets that are furnished with movable poofs and ottomans for students to gather spontaneously/impromptu outside of their rooms. There is also a colorful window niche at the end of each corridor for students to tuck away and find solitude.

    The building also includes a number of staff apartments throughout, an office suite on the first floor, a full dining hall on the lower level, and a penthouse level study lounge. The penthouse space is designed for maximum flexibility with 2 multi-purpose areas that can be transformed from study areas into a classroom and a recreational space for playing ping pong or hosting yoga classes.

    The building has ample green space with terraces carved into the interior courtyard façade. Each terrace is furnished to be durable and reconfigurable. Pieces can be moved around to meet students needs whether it be studying, dining, or an outdoor movie night. The courtyard features corten window surrounds the design team named “lanterns and planterns” which really light up at night. These highlight the studies and lounges on each floor. The warm tones of the materials are carried inside the study and lounge spaces through flooring, ceilings, and acoustic wall panels making them a cozy retreat that overlooks the reimagined courtyard below.

    The vibrant interior is representative of their core colors and full of bold pattern in the materials, graphics, and furniture. A custom pattern was created in the terrazzo that carries throughout the first floor lobby and lower level floor. The resident room corridors are also patterned with a custom design to help break up their length and create zones. The team held a furniture fair to test which pieces would be used in the space rating them based on comfort, aesthetic, and durability. You’ll find the furniture selections and finishes used in the lounges and kitchens are unique to each floor, so no two spaces feel exactly the same.

    Design: SMBW and VMDO Architects
    Design Team: Michelle Mikita, Shannon Dankos, Kelsey Levitt
    Contractor: Clarke Construction
    Furniture Dealer: SML Commercial Furniture & Interior Design
    Photography: Alan Karchmer