Sandy Hall, one of Virginia Tech’s oldest buildings, is undergoing major renovations that will enhance its capacity and accessibility. The renovation is part of Virginia Tech’s $35 million capital initiative, which focuses on three historic buildings on Drillfield: Sandy Hall, Davidson Hall and the Liberal Arts Building. The renovations for Davidson Hall and the Liberal Arts Building have already been completed.
Built in 1924, Sandy Hall is part of the original Ag Quad, which is located north of the Drillfield. According to Virginia Tech, this is the first major renovation the building has seen since it was built. The renovation process for Sandy Hall started about a year and a half ago.
Mark Owczarski, assistant vice president of University Relations, said that the discussion of renovating Sandy Hall started many years ago. According to VT News, in early 2017, the university decided to renovate Sandy Hall along with Davidson Hall and the Liberal Arts Building. The renovation projects for Davidson Hall and the Liberal Arts Building were completed in the fall of 2018.
One of the main purposes of the renovation is to create a prominent home for the school of neuroscience.
“It's a very positive addition for the College of Science. As you may know, we started the school of neuroscience a couple of years ago. It hasn't had a regular home on campus.” said JP Morgan, associate dean for Policies and Graduate Studies in the College of Science, “(Sandy hall) is going to be the home for the school of neuroscience. That's a very big step for the College of Science and a very big step for Virginia Tech.”
The school of neuroscience was established in 2015. A small set of administrative offices for the school of neuroscience are currently located in the North End Center, and faculty members are scattered in labs across three different buildings.
Another main purpose of the renovation is to make the building more accessible and increase its capacity.
According to Morgan, the building will be completely renovated from floor to ceiling and will be brought to modern standards. Two wings have been added for additional teaching and learning spaces for faculty and students. A staircase and an elevator will also be added to increase its accessibility.
According to Owczarski, the initial plan was to complete the renovation in the fall of 2018, but due to the age of the building, the project was delayed. The renovation is now expected to be completed in the summer of 2019.
“(The renovation) shows how Virginia Tech continues to grow in exciting ways, and it's not just about building innovations,” Owczarski said. “I just think it's really exciting.”
The Liberal Arts Building, located at 200 Stanger St., opened after renovations at the beginning of this semester.
The building was originally constructed in 1900 as a YMCA building. It underwent multiple name changes before YMCA gave all interest it had in the building to Virginia Tech for its 100th anniversary, and it was then deemed the Liberal Arts Building.
An article from the Facilities Department at Virginia Tech states, “The Liberal Arts Building is one of the most outdated buildings on campus with extensive egress and ADA deficiencies and deteriorated building systems.”
The renovations included exterior envelope repairs; hazardous material abatement; replacement of HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems; gutting of interior partitions to reconfigure interior rooms and spaces; sprinkler and addressable fire alarm systems; and an approximate 2,000 gross-square-foot fourth story addition.
“It’s a beautiful, historical building that has been extensively renovated. Some folks would prefer a new building, but this one has character and a deep association with the university. I am delighted they decided to renovate it,” said Mark Barrow, a professor in the Department of History.
In addition to improving the infrastructure of the building, Barrow states the building adds convenience to the department.
“Having the CLAHS Dean’s Office closer to our departmental offices has made it much easier to communicate with the Dean, associate deans, and the rest of the staff in that office,” Barrow states. Despite minor confusion with the change in address or where forms should be turned in, Barrow believes that moving the building has gone over well with students.
The renovation for the front section of Davidson Hall was completed in June 2018. The renovation added a new atrium to the front entrance of the building. In addition, according to VT News, the classrooms, administrative and faculty offices in the front section of the building all received renovations.
Davison Hall was built in 1928 and houses classrooms, laboratories and offices for the Department of Chemistry.
“The completion of Davidson Hall is an exciting achievement in the Drillfield academic building capital renovation project. We’re grateful for the dedication of the construction, contracting and project management teams for making it a success,” Chris Kiwus, associate vice president and chief facilities officer, said in a press release from VT News.