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Marymount university replaces ‘Blue Goose’ building for new Ballston Center

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The only reference Matthew Shank, president of Marymount University in Arlington, had of the school before his 2011 interview was their “Blue Goose” building, a light blue structure built in 1963 that housed the graduate school. Upon seeing it, he called his wife with second thoughts and said this building was “pathetic” and one of the “ugliest” he’d ever seen. Later that night, he vowed to himself that if he became president of the university he’d replace it.

Six years later, Shank fulfilled his promise as he spoke to a crowd at the May 24 blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Ballston Center where the “Blue Goose” once stood. The Ballston Center is comprised of two buildings — a nine-story building for academics and office space for the university and a 15-story residential tower, which offers a public plaza, retail space and three levels of underground parking.  

"As nice as this building is, the building is just a structure. It doesn't mean anything unless we have top faculty and staff to work in it for our students." Matthew Shank, president of Marymount University in Arlington

“We had many long nights where I thought, ‘This is going to fall apart,’” said Shank. He turned to the new structure and said, “It’s spectacular.”

Those who contributed to the new center include the Clark Construction Company; the Shooshan Company; Gensler; Hitt Construction; United Bank; the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary sisters; Joseph Maurelli, chairman of the Marymount’s board of trustees; Ralph Kidder, former CFO of Marymount; and the university’s faculty and staff.

“It’s quite miraculous,” said Shank. “This building is going to be complete in less time than it took to do 22 chapel windows (for the campus’ chapel). Our chapel is now complete; I think that took about four years for 22 windows, and two years for this building.” 

The original “Blue Goose” was purchased in 1992 by Sister Majella Berg, Marymount president from 1960 to 1993.

The first six floors of the new academic and office building will be occupied by the college of business; the graduate program; forensic, psychology and counseling classes; the admissions office; a 200-seat auditorium; a chapel; a library; an art gallery and a dining hall. The top three floors will be leased as office space.

“We were afforded this opportunity because of our common vision, common faith and God’s grace,” said John Shooshan, CEO and president of the Shooshan Company.

Father Thomas M. Yehl, Marymount chaplain, gave a blessing and sprinkled holy water on the doors of the building. The building will open officially in the fall. Shank said the reason for holding the ceremony earlier was out of respect for Maurelli, who served his last day on the board of trustees May 24.

 LR_marymount-new-building-12“As nice as this building is, the building is just a structure. It doesn’t mean anything unless we have top faculty and staff to work in it for our students,” said Shank.

“These buildings will come and go, but these relationships we build, how we treat one another, our faith in each other and our faith in God are far more important,” said Shooshan.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017