Bob Endebrock walks through the Mason Inn, George Mason University’s new hotel. Photo by Patrick Wall.

Bob Endebrock walks through the Mason Inn, George Mason University’s new hotel. Photo by Patrick Wall.

It’s become a familiar sight for students: bulldozers moving dirt, workers in hardhats leaning over blueprints and even the occasional parking lot conversion.

For the past decade, George Mason University’s campus has been a place of drastic change.

At the forefront of this change is Mason’s Facilities Management department. Led by Bob Endebrock, the department oversees the logistical aspects of new buildings on Mason’s three campuses in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William. According to Endebrock, 10 new facilities have opened since April on Mason’s three locations.

Helping Endebrock oversee these projects are two Mason alumni, Project Engineer Hieu Tran and Project Inspector Chris Ellis. Both interned at Facilities Management during their time at Mason and were offered jobs after graduation.

Now, Tran oversees building projects and renovations while Ellis works to ensure the new work is properly installed and complies with city ordinances.

As students know, the building process can be a long one. According to Endebrock, getting a building from its planning stages to completion can take as many as eight years, as was the case with the Arlington campus.

Departments in need of a new building submit their plans to Endebrock and his team, who then work with the departments to figure out how a building can best suit their needs. From there, the plans are submitted to the state for funding.

Needless to say, the process can be time-consuming.

“Things always take awhile to get authorized and planned and designed,” Endebrock said. “That’s my job to do the forecasting and allotting the right amount of time and money so that it doesn’t get to be such a problem at the end.”

But for students, the problem isn’t time and money. The construction on campus has long been the ire of students. For Tran, though, the results are hard to ignore. “We’re trying to stay out of the way as much as possible,” said Tran, “but also improve the school so new students next year can come in and see a totally different campus from the students who have graduated already.”

In many ways, the best part of the job for these three comes with the completion of a project. As Endebrock, Tran and Ellis tour the newly renovated (and renamed) de Laski Performing Arts Building the day before its opening, their enthusiasm is apparent. They walk through the sunlit corridors, touring the building with a visible air of pride in the work.

A tour of the Mason Inn produces the same results. But for Endebrock, there seems to be something wrong with The Well, the on-site bar. “The TVs aren’t big enough,” he said.
While even those in charge of the construction understand that the work is a hassle for students, Tran has seen both sides of the argument.

“As a student, you’re more worried about your friends, your classes . . . you don’t really worry about what’s going on with the campus,” he said. “But what you don’t see is the people here who work for the university are doing the best they can to give you guys the best experience they can.”