BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2011 — The College of Engineering invites Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, as well as area residents, this week to place their signature and messages of goodwill on a steel beam that will be placed inside the under-construction Signature Engineering Building.
Signatures will be collected Wednesday, April 18, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of Randolph Hall, near the courtyard main entrance. Engineering departments, such as mechanical, chemical, and engineering education, will move to the $100 million, 150,000-square-foot Signature Engineering Building when construction is finished in spring 2014. The Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering also will have a showcase lab in the new facility. The building is located near the corner of Prices Fork Road and Stanger Streets on the north edge of campus.
The signature-adorned beam will be inserted into the “penthouse” of the building, a utility room set aside for mechanical operations such as air-handling and other mechanical operations. Placement of the beam will take place on Friday, April 20th, at a Topping Out ceremony to be hosted by Gilbane Inc., the contractor tasked with constructing the building.
“The ceremony gives us the opportunity to show our appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the people who have brought the project to this point. This major milestone marks the tail end of 1,200-plus tons of structural steel erection just 220 days from our Notice to Proceed and is the culmination of more than 50,000 man-hours expended to date,” said David Childress, project manager for Gilbane. “While the building is topping out steel erection on one wing, interior rough-in work is in full-swing on the other side of the building. This kind of progress is the direct result of a true teamwork mentality.”
Added Ed Nelson, associate dean and chief of staff for the College of Engineering: “Topping out is a chance for everyone involved in the project to take pride in how far we have come, safely, in such a short period of time.”
Construction on the building began October 1, 2011. Because of the mild winter, the project is three weeks ahead of schedule. Occupancy of the building is currently planned during the first quarter of 2014, said Todd Shelton, capital projects manager for Virginia Tech.
“The Signature Engineering Building will serve as the centerpiece of the College of Engineering, and a teaching tool for our students,” said Richard C. Benson, dean of the College of Engineering and who holds the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Chaired Professorship.”
Highlights of the Signature Engineering Building project include:
- 154,935 gross square feet;
- Eight new classrooms;
- More than 40 instructional and research laboratories;
- More than 150 offices for faculty, staff, and graduate students, including conference rooms;
- 300-seat auditorium for large lecture classes and presentations;
- First floor café serving students, faculty, and staff;
- Third floor communications center for the engineering education department; and
- A project goal of obtaining LEED silver rating as defined by the LEED Green Building Rating System for New Construction and Major Renovations.
The Signature Engineering Building has been part of the college’s capital plan since 2007.The efforts of several present and past members of the College of Engineering Advisory Board during the past five years helped spur this building to reality. Their efforts ranged from fundraising to helping gain attention and support for the building from the Virginia General Assembly and Governor’s Office.
The building was designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, based in Portland, Ore. Art McKinney, an alumnus of the College of Engineering, and president and founder of McKinney and Company, was helpful in bringing project costs in line, effectively reducing the cost of construction by more than $20 million.
The effort was helpful in more ways than one, as it was a persuasive factor in the anonymous gift of $25 million from a donor. The gift is the largest ever received from a single individual or family in Virginia Tech’s history.
Additionally, Michael Quillen, another alumnus of the college, along with his family, donated $3 million to the building. That gift will go toward the Signature Engineering Building’s 300-seat auditorium.
A 24/7 live webcam was installed this past fall on the roof of the nearby Whittemore Hall to capture construction of the Signature Engineering Building, and can be viewed online. Once complete, a time lapse video will be created and posted at the website.