A Place of Community

A Place of Community

The Charles E. Smith Center has been a fixture on the GW campus since 1975, witnessing breathtaking moments in the four-plus decades since its opening—hosting presidents, musicians and comedians, athletics tournaments and career fairs, current and prospective students.

The Smith Center is a place of history, entertainment, and celebration and a home base for the GW community to “raise high.” Bob Dylan performed there, as did Ray Charles, the Beach Boys and the Black-Eyed Peas. Bob Hope, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams all delivered punch lines there to sold-out crowds. Joe Biden packed kits for military service personnel. The Freshman Convocation and Day of Service, which officially welcomes the incoming freshman class into the Colonials community, is one of the largest annual events held in the Smith Center.

The late real estate developer and Washington philanthropist Charles Smith, who served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1967-76, and the Smith and Kogod families made gifts that were key to both the original construction and, as part of the Making History campaign, significant renovations to the building.

Interior upgrades included 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, enhanced athletic training and weight room facilities, and a renovated pool area. On the exterior, a dynamic new main entrance along 22nd Street and a new VIP entrance along F Street were constructed.

“Papa Charlie used to say there were three circles of life, and in order of importance they were family, friends, and community. You have families coming here, you have friends coming here, and you have the community coming here. I think this place really, if my grandfather could see this, it is the perfect metaphor for what he envisioned.”

– David Bruce Smith, BA '79; son of Robert Smith, grandson of Charles E. Smith, on the important role the Smith Center plays in the life of the GW community

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