June 17, 2024

Mason and Randolph Focus on Living and Learning

Two residence halls on the University of Mary Washington campus have gotten a makeover, turning the 1950s buildings into state-of-the-art living and learning spaces. Mason and Randolph halls, in the center of the Fredericksburg campus, will re-open at the end of August after a year of extensive renovations. The residence halls showcase new living and learning communities and are examples of environmentally friendly construction.

Courtesy of Tom Riley: A panorama shows Mason Hall (left) and Randolph Hall, connected by seminar rooms and a gathering space

In the planning stages for the renovation project, Bowie Gridley Architects focused on creating more study spaces and group work spaces, while retaining the original look and feel of the buildings, Director of Residence Life Chris Porter said.

“We took unused and underused spaces and created lounges and study rooms,” she said.

While adding features like elevators and air conditioning to the buildings, they also upgraded what was known as “the tunnel” on the first level. Now called “The Link,” the connecting hallway between the two residence halls will be home to four faculty and staff apartments on the bottom level.

The ground level of The Link, formerly a terrace known on-campus as “the beach,” now connects Mason and Randolph with three seminar rooms and a large gathering space.

The seminar rooms, with a view of downtown Fredericksburg on one side and George Washington Hall on the other, will accommodate small classes of 10 to 15 students, including those part of UMW’s three first-year living and learning communities.

One living and learning community, Empower U, will hold a women and gender studies seminar class in The Link, steps away from where the small group of first-year students will live in Randolph Hall.

“[Living and learning communities] are an opportunity for a group of about 15 people to live together, take a class together and do programming and things around a theme,” Porter said. “This year, we have a leadership community, a women and gender studies community and a social justice community.”

The entire Mason and Randolph project is in line to receive LEED Gold, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification, Porter said, for its many sustainable features, including its use of recycled materials, sustainable wood, energy efficient lighting and stormwater runoff control. The U.S. Green Building Council uses the LEED rating system to recognize successful green building design, construction and operations.

The architects used recycled materials from the original construction of Mason and Randolph in 1957 and 1954 respectively. The marble from old bathroom partitions was salvaged, cut into pieces and used as window sills throughout the renovated buildings. Also, the bluestone pavers from the original “beach” have reappeared in the front porches and plaza areas.

From motion sensor lighting and energy efficient insulation to sustainably harvested wood for the furniture, the buildings’ green features were a priority, Porter said.

The focus on sustainability is evident in Dr. Tom Riley’s three murals along the walls. Riley, the university physician, created murals of the Rappahannock River, the York River and the Potomac River to illustrate Fredericksburg’s connection to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Porter hopes the murals and gathering spaces make the residence halls feel more like home for the close to 200 students in each building.

“We asked the architects to design a campus destination with a heavy emphasis on the ‘wow’ factor,” Porter said, “and I think they did that and more. Students will be proud to call this community home.”

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.