Another section of the Core Campus Project set to open


A large area of green space anchored by a new amphitheater is scheduled to open this week in the center of George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus.

The removal of fencing along a good portion of the north side of Wilkins Plaza will provide access to the space, which marks another major milestone in the Core Campus Project.

“I am thrilled,” said Cathy Pinskey, program director at Mason Facilities. “Having the amphitheater is a big deal as an expanded area for student engagement in the center of campus, which we really haven’t had before.”

The amphitheater will have wall seating, tables, chairs, event power sources and accessible Wi-Fi.

The green space will include some of the 35 overcup oak trees that are being planted to replace the trees that were taken out to make room for the expanded plaza. The trees are in grassy areas, as opposed to being surrounded by concrete, as were the trees there previously.

Some of those trees were repurposed to create the wood benches in Horizon Hall.

“As they mature they won’t get root-bound, which is what happened to the trees before,” Pinskey said. “We’re improving what is there to make them last longer.”

Completion of the Core Campus Project is expected by the Spring 2022 semester, when work on Harris Theatre, a meditation labyrinth, and a dining patio next to SUB I are finished.

The Core Campus Project, which includes Horizon Hall, the redesigned Wilkins Plaza and the Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial, has already changed the energy in the center of the campus, Pinskey said.

“You walk around the center part of the campus and it’s always populated by students, faculty and staff, sitting at the tables and on the benches, or sitting on the wall of the fountain,” she said. “It really has provided a whole new outdoor feature that didn’t exist before in a way that it does today.”

A view of the amphitheatre on the north side of Wilkins Plaza. Photo by Cathy Pinskey