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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

Committee briefed on capital projects

By Sookhan Ho

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 14 - November 30, 1995

Project consultants briefed the Board of Visitors' Buildings and Grounds Committee at its recent meeting on the status of two proposed buildings: the $25-million Advanced Communications and Information Technology Center and the $6-million Athletic Facilities Addition.

* Advanced Communications and Information Technology Center: Patrick Shaffner of the Roanoke architecture and engineering firm of Sherertz, Franklin, Crawford, and Shaffner Inc., reported that his firm is completing pre-design work to identify the building's occupants and the dimensions of their assigned space.

The 96,000-sq.-ft. center will house a high-technology learning facility, an open-access digital library, and research facilities for programs in advanced communications and information technology.

The center will be located on the north corner of the Mall and Drillfield Drive, across from the War Memorial and the original entrance to Newman Library. Part of the center will arch over the Mall, connecting the center to Newman at its third floor. This bridge-like portion of the center will house study spaces and a reading room with terminals for accessing the Internet. The physical link with Newman, university officials say, is aimed at creating "the library of the 21st century."

The center, which University Architect Peter Karp said is "more complex than the typical building on campus," is expected to be built at a relatively high cost per square foot. Shaffner, a civil engineering alumnus, said one reason was the center's high technology programs and features, which demanded special power, lighting, acoustics, and communication links, and which also required planners to "build in high flexibility" in anticipation of changing program uses of space--"so that it isn't an outdated building when it is completed."

The university is seeking funds from various sources to build the center: $10 million from the state and $15 million from private contributors and the federal government. With the target sum of $25 million in mind, the university originally envisaged a building of a little less than 105,000 square feet. However, after meetings were held to determine the nature and proportions of the individual spaces required for the various programs, it became clear that a center of that size and complexity could not be built for that price, Karp said.

Faced with trimming the scope of the building, university officials, after meeting with the deans and other senior administrators of the programs involved, decided to reduce the building's physical space to the present 96,000 square feet to preserve the desired high-technology and high-flexibility character of the facilities.

Planned components of the center's high-technology learning facility include a lecture hall for multi-media presentations, space for teleconferences, and classrooms for distance learning. The center will also be used for community outreach, to serve public schools and businesses through technical assistance and training and to help participants in the Blacksburg Electronic Village project.

The digital library is expected to include space to support faculty development, courseware design and production, and consulting and training in emerging technologies. The center's research space will comprise labs and faculty and graduate student offices for programs in fiber- and electro-optics, wireless and commercial space communications, human-computer interaction, parallel computation, and visual analysis, among others.

* Athletic Facilities Addition: G.T. Ward of Ward/Hall Associates in Fairfax reported on the approximately 40,000-sq.-ft. addition, to meet expanding space needs of athletics and to support compliance with Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments Act, aimed at achieving gender equity in collegiate sports. The addition, to be located between Cassell Coliseum and Lane Stadium, will join the Jamerson Athletic Center at Jamerson's second floor.

Ward, an architecture alumnus, said that schematic design is now under way, with the completion of work to identify the facility's occupants and assign space. The project will be wholly funded through private contributions. The university, Karp said, has obtained state approval to raise $4.75 million and is seeking permission to raise another $1.25 million. (State approval is required as the addition will be sited on state land and will itself become state property when built, even though private funds were used.)

The ground level, about 22,000 square feet, will consist of a weight room, a multi-use gymnasium, and various treatment rooms for sports medicine. The upper level of about 16,000 square feet will hold an auditorium, an open exhibit area, and various meeting/study rooms.

The football locker room in Jamerson will also be renovated as part of the project.