Holden Hall, which houses both Virginia Tech’s Mining and Minerals Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering programs, will nearly triple in size to transform the current building into a centerpiece for learning and research for both departments in the College of Engineering. Construction began at the beginning of the 2019–2020 academic year.
The renovations will transform Holden Hall from a 41,000-gross-square-foot (GSF) space into 102,000-GSF building.
According to Assistant Vice President of University Relations Mike Owczarski, the construction will replace a “very antiquated, very outdated (and) very small” teaching facility into a facility that is larger, more modern and much more relevant to teaching and research today.
In addition, the culmination of Holden’s latest developments will better serve the students and researchers on the Blacksburg campus in the 21st century mining industry, he said.
“Holden was built in 1940, so a lot of the technology, the space, the things that you’re teaching and the things you’re conducting research on have changed tremendously,” Owczarski said. “The renovation of Holden Hall will really, significantly improve the teaching and research that goes on in those two departments.”
When the renovations are complete in 2021, the single-story on the east wing will be upgraded to a three-story wing, and entire north wing will be demolished to make room for a four-story addition. New labs and computational spaces will be inside these future-developed wings, and classrooms supplied with the latest technology, like A/V capabilities, transmission electron microscopes for observing natural resources and internet connection for combining with other projects all over the world.
One of Holden’s features for all students within the College of Engineering will be the addition of the two-story Center for Autonomous Mining and Robotics, where researchers can engage with the discussion on health and the mining industry. Moreover, students will be able to immerse themselves in an artificial mine and learn from materials supplied by various limestone quarries and autonomous machines that are developed by students in electrical and mechanical engineering. Once automated machines collect materials from the ground and refined, researchers and students will have the opportunity to analyze the samples at the atomic level using the latest technology available.
Furthermore, the collaboration between different disciplines taught in the College of Engineering, like electrical engineering, mining and minerals engineering and computer science to solve a common problem will integrate the Beyond Boundaries initiative to have Virginia Tech students learn in more than one area of study.
“Today, mining is done very differently with robotics,” Owczarski said. “Students need to learn that, and they need that hands-on experience –– the environment of a mine, and the use of robotics can be done in a safe place right here on campus to give students and teachers a resource that will be relevant for the industry today.”
Virginia Tech will continue to have each campus building that is being renovated have a minimum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which verifies that buildings are environmentally-friendly and energy-saving, which further ensure that these are cost-effective buildings.
“(LEED certification is important) as we move forward as a campus and as a community to be sustainable,” Owczarski said. “We have to take care of our environment as we grow and as we build new facilities. We need to conserve energy; it saves us money and it’s good for the environment.”
Going hand-in-hand with the new construction on campus and Beyond Boundaries, the renovations of Holden and its new features will contribute to the university’s academic mission to become a top 100 global university.
“At the end of the project, it is going to be a great resource for our students and for our faculty,” Owczarski said. “It’s the long-term gain we’re really striving for (and) it will be well worth the wait to have a world-class facility that will benefit our students and our faculty.”