Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Board discusses projects

by Sookhan Ho

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 21 - February 23, 1995

University Architect Peter Karp and Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Ray Smoot presented the university's long-term capital plan to the Board of Visitors' Buildings and Grounds Committee last week. Karp also presented schematic designs of the new Student Health and Fitness Center and an update on the new Virginia Tech/University of Virginia Education Center in Falls Church.

Long Term Capital Plan

The university is required to submit a six-year capital request to the state's Division of Planning and Budget before the start of each two-year budget cycle. The list, said Smoot, is modified each biennium, with projects rolled forward, removed, or revised, depending on funding status and directions from the DPB. The president, in consultation with the provost and executive vice president, ranks projects based on programmatic needs, space guidelines from the State Council of Higher Education, and discussions with deans and vice presidents.

Karp pointed out that the DPB is currently changing the long-term capital planning process. The redesign, he said, is likely to alter significantly how the university submits its plan. "We will be receiving instructions shortly from DPB." If the redesigned process requires substantial changes to the university's current plan or the format of submission, the committee and the board of visitors will review the changes at their next meeting in April.

Virginia Tech's proposed capital plan for 1996-98 asks for almost $200 million in funding for 22 items (19 in the university division, three in the cooperative extension/agriculture experiment station division).

Reviewing some of the proposed items, Karp said the Upper Quad conversion is a comprehensive project aimed at addressing the space shortage on campus by converting all dorms in the Upper Quad area (approximately bounded by the Mall, and South Main, Turner, and Stanger streets) into faculty offices and classrooms.

The conversion of the first dorm, Major Williams, is on schedule and will be completed by June 30, Karp said. Brodie, Rasche, and Monteith halls would be converted during the next phase, at an estimated cost of $22 million. The university, he said, has received state approval to construct two new dorms elsewhere on campus to replace living space lost to the conversion.

Another project, the $25 million Advanced Communications and Information Technology Center, will house an expansion of the Newman library and state-of-the-art computing and information technology for teaching and learning. If authorized, the building will be financed by state ($10 million), private ($10 million), and federal ($5 million) funds. The building will be located on the north side of the Mall and connect, over the Mall, to the library.

Other projects discussed included the construction of a new Continuing Education Center, the renovation of Alumni Hall, and the construction of a new sports facility. Braine briefed committee members on the need for an additional facility for athletics, the location of which has not been decided.

The building will accommodate three "desperately needed" improvements, Braine said. "It will provide a quality weight room; it will free up space in Jamerson [Athletic Center] for a sports medicine complex; and it will provide additional individual and group meeting areas."

He said the new facility would further the university's goals in sports recruiting and help maintain, in particular, the competitiveness of the football program in the Big East Conference. The additional space would also assist the university in complying with Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment aimed at achieving gender equity in collegiate sports. Similar facilities were constructed during the past two years at the University of Virginia, University of Pittsburgh, Boston College, and Rutgers University.

Student Health and Fitness Center

The $20.5 million, L-shaped building of stone and brick will be located at the intersection of West Campus Drive and Washington Street. To be paid for by student fees, the 130,000-square-foot facility will house the student health service (including counseling), a recreational swimming pool, a four-court gymnasium space, an elevated jogging track, weight rooms, and multipurpose spaces for aerobics and other activities.

Though the committee expressed a preference for a traditional all-stone building, Karp explained that the choice of materials was driven by both cost and design considerations. Stone is more expensive than brick, he said. Furthermore, a partial brick exterior would help highlight the stone portion of the building.

Virginia Tech/University of Virginia

Education Center in Falls Church

Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church, Karp said, are currently reviewing the site plan, zoning application, and comprehensive plan for the project, which will house Virginia Tech's Northern Virginia graduate programs. The schematic design was submitted to the state's Art and Architecture Review Board earlier this month, and bonds to finance construction have been jointly issued by Virginia Tech and the building's other occupant, the University of Virginia. "Construction will start in July," he said, "and is expected to be completed by the end of next year."