Smithsonian-Mason Conservation Studies Program Housing

Northern Virginia

Project Description

The Smithsonian-Mason Conservation Studies Program Housing project immerses students in an active research community, where they live among and work side-by-side with scientists and scholars from both the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and George Mason University (GMU) in a LEED Silver-certified facility. The SBCI was established by GMU and the Smithsonian Institution to serve as an umbrella for the latter’s global effort to conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. That initiative created the need for improvements on land owned by the Smithsonian, which is nestled within the bucolic landscape of northern Virginia.

The project includes two new buildings – a student dormitory and a dining hall – along with renovations of an existing research lab and instructional spaces into an academic building with classrooms and labs. Following careful study of the site conditions, these thoughtful interventions afforded the team the opportunity to go beyond the project’s original scope and create an identifiable heart of the campus that previously existed as a loosely organized compound of buildings. The dining hall and its patio both offer stunning views of a national park. The L-shape of the dormitory, with 60 double-occupancy rooms as well as separate areas for exercise and study, effectively frames outdoor space with the dining hall completing the partial enclosure of a new quadrangle that opens northward to the pre-existing campus.



  • Michelle Ho
  • Wu Li
  • Milton Powell
  • Jameson Terry
  • James M. Wright
  • Di Zhang


Design-Build Institute of America. Design-Build Honor Award for Educational Facilities

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