A new era began at Georgetown Preparatory School on Sunday afternoon when The Hanley Center for Athletic Excellence was formally dedicated. The Jesuit, all-boys high school held the grand opening ceremony for the $23 million state of the art athletic facility.
The building's brick architecture mirrors that of the existing buildings that surround it on the southwestern edge of the school's campus.
"One of the reasons that we placed it where we did was so that it would fit in with the rest of the campus," said Brian Gnatt, a spokesman for the school.
The 150,000 square foot building includes a 950-seat competition basketball gym, four basketball practice courts, a room dedicated to wrestling, a 6,000-square foot weight room with $170,000 of new equipment, a multimedia center and an 11-lane competition swimming pool. The facility will also feature Montgomery County’s first 200-meter indoor track.
A dedication mass marked the grand opening of the facility. The mass centered on the theme of athletic competition as a way of fulfilling the promise in each individual.
“Let this place and its facilities contribute to activities that renew the spirit and test the strength of mind and body that we may not be disqualified from service for lack of effort. Grant that all who meet here may find enrichment in companionship,” said Rev. Richard McCouch, S.J., the chaplain of the school. McCouch led a virtual tour of the new facility that was broadcast to a projection screen for approximately 700 people in attendance. The tour stopped at each of the new rooms and offered blessings for them.
The project was funded through a ground lease agreement with development firm JPI. A 473-unit luxury condominium facility is currently under construction on 3.7 acres of the school’s property at the corner of Rockville Pike and Tuckerman Lane. The agreement generated $37.5 in revenue that funded the construction of the new athletic facility and other capital improvements, according to Gnatt. The deal allowed the school to build the new facility without raising tuition or tapping into charitable contributions, Gnatt said.
The building replaces a 1960s-era field house that sits next door to the new building. The old field house will be converted into a student learning center with a media center, classrooms and a student common area, Gnatt said. That will be part of a second phase of construction on the school's campus. The completion of the Hanley facility capped the first phase of construction that included the renovation of the school's nine-hole golf course and the installation of a synthetic turf surface on the school's football and lacrosse playing field.
The second phase is expected to start in the second half of 2007, Gnatt said and will take up to 18 months to complete. In addition to renovating the old field house, a street that runs through the middle of the campus now will be closed to street traffic and turned into a walking plaza, Gnatt said.
"Once we begin construction on the original field house, we will seamlessly complete the quad area of campus, which [with the closed off street] will be an easily walkable area," Gnatt said.
— Aaron Stern