The GWU Science & Engineering Hall

Consolidating Resources in a World-Class Space
The Science and Engineering Hall will inspire a new generation of faculty, researchers and students to explore their chosen fields of study, work together in ways they never could before and push the boundaries of innovation and discovery.
Forrest Maltzman, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs & Planning, The GWU
Washington, D.C.
The George Washington University
Ballinger Architects
Additional collaborations with Ballinger Architects:
700,000 Square Feet
Year Completed: 

Clark provided preconstruction and general contracting services for the construction of the Science and Engineering Complex at The George Washington University (GWU). The new complex features 200,000 square feet of below grade space and includes four levels of parking and two levels of program facilities. Nearly 500,000 square feet was constructed above grade and features eight floors of wet and dry research and teaching laboratories.

The Science and Engineering facility is a cast-in-place structure with architectural exposed concrete columns and ceilings, curtain wall, ribbon windows, punch windows, terracotta panels, stone and storefront façade elements. Inside, the flexible space design will accommodate developing technologies. A multi-use auditorium and a media center will host national science symposia, conferences, and keynote addresses by distinguished visitors.

Clark, with the design team, delivered the state-of-the-art facility that is designed and built to serve the university's immediate and long-term needs. The building includes specialized research spaces including a greenhouse, clean rooms, imaging suites, machine shops, computer clusters, aquatics suite, and a three-story high bay materials lab with a structural strong wall and strong  floor. In all, 19 types of sciences will be studied in the building.  The build-out of the 7th and 8th floors included approximately 100,000 SF of research, office, and teaching space for three schools and departments: The George Washington University School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the Biology Department. The space features several specialized laboratories, including a Bio-Safety Level 3 suite, a vivarium suite, and a greenhouse. Other notable aspects of the build-out are: a two-hour fire rated glass wall system, new rooftop ventilation equipment, custom laboratory casework, and fume hoods.

Clark was also responsible for the abatement and demolition of two eight-story parking structures and a two-story university building.


Clark's project team provided preconstruction services over a three year period for three separate building packages, including early-start excavation, base building core-and-shell, and laboratory fit-out. During this time, the Clark team provided detailed budgets and feedback on component and scope costs informed by subcontractor participation, provided constructability reviews of program features and details, and offered value engineering solutions to resolve budget challenges and lower project costs.

Early preconstruction participation enabled the earliest possible project construction start date and enabled the design team the maximum amount of programming time with the end user.

Two specific examples of comprehensive preconstruction services included the exterior façade and laboratory furniture and equipment scopes. In each case, the Clark team participated in the design development with key potential subcontractor partners to inform design decisions on details, materials, and system selection.  

Construction on an Active Campus Setting

The Clark team worked closely with University faculty to minimize disruption to campus activities. This included academic calendar events, maintenance needs, dormitory operations, and student and pedestrian life. Significant construction activities occurred adjacent to and within 24-7 active research and residential buildings. Clark led weekly meetings 100% focused on disruptive work where the construction team and university faculty created detailed plans for any noisy work or utility outages.

When necessary, disruptive work was conducted off-hours and in some cases, the means and methods were changed to limit noise and vibration. Clark and GWU also provided weekly and monthly updates to the neighbors, students, and general public on progress and upcoming activities.

Self Perform

The site was surrounded by three occupied dormitories and above WMATA Metro tunnels. Clark Foundations' support of excavation system addressed the site's soil profile that transitions from fill to gneiss rock. The system includes 176 drilled secant and solider piles (30-75' deep), 35,000 square feet of lagging, 455 tiebacks (55-100' long), 200+ tons of internal cross lot, corner, and raker bracing, 265 cubic yards of underpinning piers, and 37,000 square feet of shotcrete and rockbolts.

One of the most unique—and prominent—spaces in the Science and Engineering Hall is the three-story high bay laboratory. Within this space, students and faculty can test strengths of and conduct research on large-scale materials, including how certain structures respond to seismic activity. Transparent glass at the ground level allows building visitors to observe ongoing tests.

Building a space to accommodate the loads of the lab’s large-scale materials required a large-scale effort from Clark Concrete, our self-perform cast-in-place concrete group. The lab has a strong floor and a strong wall on an elevated slab, separating it from the remainder of the building. The lab’s 2,500 square-foot floor has a four-and-a-half-foot thick slab, defined as mass concrete by the American Concrete Institute. Clark Concrete poured the slab’s 430 cubic yards of concrete monolithically, while minimizing risk for thermal cracking differential. The floor contains over 300 tie down anchors and 108 post-tensioned, 1.75-inch diameter thread bars. The strong wall, which measures 40 feet tall, 28 feet wide, and four feet thick, also was designed with an extensive and detailed amount of rebar—63 post tensioned 1.75-inch diameter thread bars and 234 steel wall sleeves.


The Science and Engineering Hall is a  LEED® Gold building, which offers an abundance of natural light through heat-strengthened insulating glass and a terra cotta rainscreen facade. The natural light allows several areas of plant life inside the building. The south atria have two 25-foot ficus trees, the west atria have two 18-foot broadleaf lady palms, and the north atria and B1 level have green walls flush with climbing ivies.

ABC of Metro Washington - Excellence in Construction Award, Specialty Concrete
American Concrete Institute, National Capital Chapter - Award of Excellence
Concrete Foundations Association - Overall Grand Project, Commercial
Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers - Merit Award
ENR Mid-Atlantic - Award of Merit, Specialty Contracting - Clark Concrete
WBC Craftsmanship Award - Cast-in-Place Concrete (Clark Concrete)
WBC Craftsmanship Award - Masonry, Exterior Stone
WBC Craftsmanship Award - Power Generation, Distribution and Switchgear
ABC of Metro DC Excellence in Construction Award – Educational
ENR Mid-Atlantic Best Project of the Year – Award of Merit, Best Institutional
AGC of DC 2015 Washington Contractor Award - New Construction - Higher Education