D.M. Smith receives funding for expansion

A picture of D.M. Smith. The building is home to the public policy department at the Institute. // Photo by Alex Dubé Student Publications

On Feb. 8, the University System of Georgia (USG) held its second meeting of the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents has 19 members who oversee the general operations of all public higher education institutions in the state.

During this meeting, the Board approved two large changes to Tech’s campus: a renovation of the David M. Smith (D.M.) Building and an expansion of Tech Square.

The D.M. Smith Building, which houses the School of Public Policy and Pre-Law departments, is located on the corner of Cherry Street and Bobby Dodd Way. 

The structure was built in 1923 and has retained its historical design.

Julia Johnson, third-year PUBP, said “I spend 10-12 hours a week in D.M. Smith. As a Public Policy major, I have a few classes there and love to study in the lounge as well.”

D.M. Smith houses eight classrooms and multiple study spaces and lounges for students to use. “I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I’ve pulled a few all-nighters in D.M. Smith during finals, but it’s definitely one of my favorite buildings on campus.”

The renewal that was approved by the Board aims to modernize and improve the facilities and classroom spaces within the building.

Complaints of outdated classrooms and the infamous D.M. Smith asbestos have circulated amongst Public Policy students and faculty for many years, which the Board’s expansion hopes to address. 

“It’s definitely not the fanciest building on campus, but its cozy and welcoming environment has always made it my favorite building to work in,” said Johnson. The growth of the major and the lack of accessibility of the building for those with disabilities were also cited as motivation for the renovation.

The Board gave the project a budget of $26 million of institution funds.

While the renovation will improve the interior spaces and structural issues within the building, the historical infrastructure will be maintained.

Many Public Policy majors have had a positive reaction to the announcement. “I’m so excited to see what they accomplish with the renovations! I hope they find a way to keep its charm while making it ADA compliant and accessible to all of campus!” Johnson said. “Adding an elevator and redoing the bathrooms will be really helpful, and I can’t wait to see what else gets done.”

The timeline for the renovation states that actual construction is expected to begin in late 2023 and will last until the summer of 2025. The School of Public Policy will temporarily relocate during this period.

The other significant change to Tech’s campus approved by the Board is the Phase IIIA expansion of Tech Square.

Funding for the expansion will come from the 2023 fiscal year and is expected to cost a total of over $139 million. 

This project includes expansions of two educational institutions within Tech Square: the Scheller College of Business and the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Additionally, more business and retail developments, classrooms and parking areas will be included. The expansion is planned to be located on the corner of 5th Street and West Peachtree Street, near the Biltmore, which currently houses a parking lot. At the meeting, the Board spoke about reviewing and approving the design professional firms who will work on the project.