Update on the Proposed Campus Plan Amendment for Building 41, DC Archives

Update on the Proposed Campus Plan Amendment for Building 41, DC Archives

Update on the Proposed Campus Plan Amendment for Building 41, DC Archives

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) would like to update our community on the status of a proposed project on our Van Ness campus, the creation of a new space for the archives of the District of Columbia.

On September 21, 2023, the DC Zoning Commission held a hearing to review the University’s Application for the Campus Plan Amendment and Further Processing of Building 41 (Case No. 20-33B) to provide a new home for the DC Archives on the UDC Van Ness Campus. The application was filed in June 2023, following an ANC 3F meeting at which UDC presented information about the project. The next meeting of the DC Zoning Commission that will address this application is set for October 26, 2023. The University will continue to provide updates on the status of the project.

Under the application, Building 41—which is not actively used by UDC students and suffers from a variety of issues, including roof leaks, a faulty HVAC system, poor internal circulation and a lack of basic sustainability features—would be demolished and replaced with a new, state-of-the-art structure that would house the DC Archives and the UDC archives, including the University’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives.

UDC, a historically Black university, is the only public institution of higher learning in the nation’s capital and the only exclusively urban land-grant university in the country. We enroll more DC public high school graduates than any other local university and offer multiple points of entry, providing more than 80 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs and free workforce training for District residents.

The University aims to serve as a premier, first-choice institution for residents of the District and beyond. As approved in the 2020 Campus Master Plan, we are working relentlessly to achieve several goals in tandem, including modernizing our campuses, elevating our role as a destination for research and academic excellence, serving our local community and strengthening our symbiotic relationship with the District.

At the same time, the District has been in search of a new home for its archives, as its robust collection of documents and artifacts is currently housed in 19 sites across the DC area and other jurisdictions. The archives will enhance the educational and research opportunities for UDC students and the District.

With the proposed DC Archives project, funded by the District and executed by the D.C. Department of General Services, UDC and the District have a unique opportunity to meet all these goals and needs in one building.

UDC welcomes moving forward with this innovative partnership with the District. The proposed DC Archives building would generate a wide array of benefits for students, faculty, staff and our greater community, including:

  • Unparalleled research opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members
  • New internship, academic-training and work-study opportunities for students
  • Shared, well-equipped meeting and study spaces available to members of the campus and the community
  • A state-of-the-art home and dedicated research space for UDC archives
  • New opportunities for scholarly lectures and seminars
  • A new home for the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives
  • Exhibit space for interacting with DC history
  • Improvements to the physical characteristics and connectivity of Dennard Plaza, the heart of the Van Ness campus
  • Improvements to the pedestrian access from Dennard Plaza to Van Ness Street by removal of a curb cut and the existing drive aisle to the underground garage and construction of a new landscaped walkway
  • Additional green space, including landscaped knolls, streetscape pavers, flowering trees and pollinator gardens
  • Placemaking architecture that, along with our stunning Student Center, continues to elevate and modernize our campuses
  • Access to troves of historically significant documents and artifacts, such as Duke Ellington’s birth certificate and Frederick Douglass’ will
  • A safe and secure home for DC public records to ensure they will be a resource for generations to come

Among the priorities for the University is student housing. As we assess and explore housing needs, we will continue engaging the University community.

We also value the ongoing agricultural projects and programs on campus. As part of the construction process, gardens near Building 41 would be replaced with garden space elsewhere on the Van Ness campus. The University donates more than eight tons of fresh produce on average annually to UDC students, the UDC Fresh Produce Pantry and the community through the University’s Firebird Research Farm in Beltsville, Maryland, and multiple urban food hubs in Wards 3, 5, 7 and 8.

UDC is committed to maintaining transparency and an open dialogue with all members of our campuses and the greater community.

For more information on the DC Archives project, please visit this webpage. For more information on the UDC Campus Master plans, please visit this webpage.

For questions, please contact Avis Russell, General Counsel, at avis.russell@udc.edu or Javier Dussan, Vice President, Facilities & Real Estate Management, at javier.dussan@udc.edu.