UPDATED: Aug. 31, 2009

SMITH CENTER RENOVATION PHOTO GALLERY NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE Presents Comprehensive Look at Smith Center Renovation Phases I & II


WASHINGTON, DC - On Saturday, Charles E. Smith Center hosted its first event, Freshman Convocation, since Phase I of renovations began last February. Now that construction has slowed and staff and teams have begun to move in, gives you an exclusive look inside the new Smith Center.

Charles E. Smith Center Initiative Video

Interested in donating?
Please contact Senior Director of Athletic Development Dan Rocha at 202-994-9366 or

Inside the main arena, "Tex" Silverman Court has been replaced and repainted to reflect GW's updated Buff and Blue colors. The words "George Washington" run on the baselines and both "GW" and "Colonials" logos appear on the floor in buff and blue, while red Atlantic 10 logos pop off the court in each foul lane.

Chair-back seating has replaced the student-section bleachers, with all lower-bowl seats in blue and upper-bowl seats in yellow, giving the Smith Center a true arena feel. Also, portable baskets have replaced the swing-down baskets to add to the arena décor. Construction of the Courtside Colonials Club lounge and premium seating in the west end zone is ongoing and slated for completion by basketball season.

The majority of renovations in Phase I occurred on the lower level, where Sports Medicine, Academic Support and Strength and Conditioning all received major upgrades, as well as new locker rooms for 12 teams, including men's and women's basketball, and Presidents' Club members. The Smith Center Natatorium received improved lighting and ventilation, filtration and audio systems, as well as a large, tiled "Colonials" wordmark that will be featured behind chair-back spectator seating.

Phase III of renovations is scheduled to begin in late Spring 2010.

UPDATED: June 4, 2009



Courtesy By George!, April/May 2009

Thanks to the $10 million challenge commitment by the Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith Family Foundations and Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod, combined with the $4.5 million contributed to date in support of the challenge, the transformation of the Charles E. Smith Center is well underway.

"This facility offers so much to our entire community as a venue for sports, concerts, information fairs, convocations and many other special events," says GW trustee I. Allan From, B.B.A. '72, a major donor to the project. "My support for the renovation reflects my pride in my alma mater and my strong commitment to GW's future success."

The University is in the midst of a $25 million effort to secure philanthropic support for the project. In addition to the Smith and Kogod families, other major donors include the David and Abbie Friedman Family Foundation--a "hall of fame" will be named in recognition of this gift--and GW trustee Mark V. Hughes, B.A. '69, M.S. '77, and Susan Dekelboum Hughes. The late Charles E. Smith, Hon. D.P.S. '79, a GW trustee, provided the initial gift to build the facility in 1975. His children and grandchildren, who include members of the Smith and Kogod families, are continuing his spirit of philanthropy.

The renovation is a threephase process and work on the first two phases is currently in progress. The majority of the interior transformation of the Charles E. Smith Center will be completed this summer so that demolition and construction will not interfere with academic year activities. This work transforms the lower level President's Clubs, natatorium, locker areas, aerobic training, and weight room facilities. Other areas being renovated include the arena and third-floor Athletic Director's Club. Build-out of the new Colonials Club, student-athlete academic center and additional storage space for operations are also scheduled for this summer.

Phase three construction will add a new concession concourse and transform the exterior façades. Upgraded areas are the VIP and student entrances, box office, the 22nd Street entry and the daily entrance at 22nd and G streets. Phase three is scheduled to be completed by early 2011.

For information about ways to support the facility's renovation, contact Dan Rocha at 202-994-9366 or

UPDATED: Feb. 14, 2008


Gift Represents Largest Single Philanthropic Commitment in GW's History

WASHINGTON, DC - George Washington University President Steven Knapp announced on Feb. 14 the largest single donation in the institution's history -- a $10 million gift toward the renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center from the Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith Family Foundations and Robert and Arlene Kogod. This lead gift will be instrumental in the transformational renovation of the 32-year-old building, located in the heart of GW's Foggy Bottom Campus.

The university plans to raise an additional $15 million for the renovation. The first $10 million of this goal will meet the one-to-one challenge that is a condition of the Smith-Kogod families' commitment and is designed to encourage others to support this important project.

"The Smith Center has always been a source of pride to our family because it promotes healthy minds and bodies, as well as the spirit of community, which were hallmarks of my father's life and work," said Robert H. Smith, chairman of several Charles E. Smith real estate companies. "This transformational renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center will create a signature building, in both its architecture and function, in the heart of the GW campus. It furthers my father's original vision and speaks to our commitment to GW and its future success."

The proposed renovation will take place generally within the building's existing structure. The university will soon present architectural concepts to GW and community stakeholders and then coordinate reviews and approvals with the appropriate District of Columbia agencies.

"I am deeply appreciative of the Smith and Kogod families for this historic gift to the university," said GW President Steven Knapp. "Their leadership sets a new standard for us and further recognizes the need for world-class facilities at a world-class university. The convergence of academic, athletic, and recreational components in the transformed Smith Center will provide a premier venue for our student-athletes that also will support their academic pursuits. Combined with other uses, the renewed Charles E. Smith Center will enhance the overall GW experience for our entire community."

W. Russell Ramsey, chairman of GW's Board of Trustees, B.B.A. '81, added, "This shining example of our new culture of philanthropy will benefit our faculty, students, alumni, and the community. I salute the Smith and Kogod families for this latest substantial investment in our university's future. And I congratulate President Knapp who, within six months of his arrival, has now secured the largest single gift in the history of the institution. Combined with our commitment to affordability, our increased investment in research, and our overall campus plan, we are now out of the starting gate and gaining true momentum. It's a great beginning for the new administration and a tribute to one of GW's most important and beloved families."

The interior upgrades will feature an academic center for student-athletes, improved general admission and club seating in the basketball arena, new locker rooms, remodeled office space to centralize athletic operations including those currently located elsewhere on campus, enhanced athletic training and weight room facilities, and a renovated natatorium (pool area). The exterior concepts include a dynamic new main entrance along 22nd Street, which will present a revitalized box office and concession concourse, and a new VIP entrance along F Street. The project is consistent with the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan and reinforces 22nd Street as the core of the campus. The renovation project is expected to take three years, during which time the building will remain open without interruption of planned events.

The Charles E. Smith Center was dedicated on December 6, 1975, replacing the "Tin Tabernacle" gymnasium and bringing a much-needed contemporary athletic facility to GW's Foggy Bottom Campus. The building is named for the late Charles E. Smith (1901-95), nationally renowned real estate developer and leader in the Washington, D.C., community. Smith received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from GW in 1979. He served as a GW trustee from 1967 to 1976 and was chairman of the Committee on University Development. His son, Robert H. Smith, is a trustee emeritus who served on the board in 1976 and again from 1978 to 1997. David Bruce Smith, B.A. '79, son of Robert H. and grandson of Charles E. Smith, has served as a member of GW's Board of Trustees since 2002.

GW's Charles E. Smith Center, located at 600 22nd Street, NW, houses the Department of Athletics and Recreation, which supports 22 NCAA sports teams, club sports, and recreational sports activities. Many academic programs also conduct classes and support activities in the facility, such as sports medicine, exercise science, and event management. The main arena seats 5,000 spectators and features the home games of GW men's and women's basketball. In addition student-athletes, alumni, and members of the president's club, including faculty, staff, and Foggy Bottom residents, are able to participate in recreational and fitness activities. Also, many special events are held in the Charles E. Smith Center, including most recently the inauguration of President Steven Knapp in 2007. Other activities include annual graduation celebrations for several of GW's schools, as well as musical and comedic performances. Recent appearances have been made by Billy Crystal, the Boston Pops, Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Initiative for Charles E. Smith Athletic Center Renovation