Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus takes shape near Washington, DC

Dive Brief:

  • Construction is progressing on Virginia Tech’s Academic Building One, the first part of the school’s new Innovation Campus located in Alexandria, Virginia, according to a press release. The project team is finding solutions to site-specific challenges, such as working below the water table of the nearby Potomac River to build a 170-space underground parking garage.
  • The first phase of the 11-story project in the Potomac Yard area is running on schedule. Crews led by Baltimore-based construction manager Whiting-Turner Contracting broke ground in September at the site adjacent to the future Potomac Yard-VT Metrorail Station. 
  • Designed by Detroit-based architecture firm SmithGroup, the Innovation Campus will provide instruction, research, office, and support spaces for graduate-level programs in computer science and computer engineering and other fields. There also will be flexible multipurpose areas, labs and maker spaces.

Dive Insight:

Building progress is set to go above ground this summer, according to the release, and Virginia Tech expects that the 300,000-square-foot Building One will be finished by the fall of 2024. Additional plans call for two other structures, measuring about 150,000 square feet each, to be built as the campus grows.

Whiting-Turner is orchestrating the massive concrete placements of up to 1,400 cubic yards at a time. In addition, in order to deal with constant water intrusion in the parking garage area, crews have installed about 20 wells running continuously to remove water from the site. The wells have pumped approximately 41.5 million gallons of water since construction started, according to the release.

SmithGroup used computational and generative design techniques to inform the building’s unique geometry, according to the university. The form of the building was created to capture solar energy to maximize photovoltaic power generation.

Whiting-Turner and Virginia Tech have also created what the release calls the “connector,” intended to educate and update the public on the status of the Innovation Campus and its construction. Set to open in July, visitors will be able to walk through the physical information hub, which is the size of a shipping container, to learn more about the build using videos and renderings, among other technologies.

“The connector will provide a unique opportunity for the public to stay engaged with the project and be able to watch the physical progress of our first academic building,” said David Baker, director of government and community affairs for Virginia Tech in the release.

The Whiting-Turner site crew includes senior project manager Summer Cleary, who graduated from Virginia Tech in 2000 with a major in civil engineering. The Innovation Campus site is the third largest project she has worked on in her career. 

“Living in Alexandria, I never thought the chance to work on a Virginia Tech project would arise – it’s a great opportunity,” said Cleary, who visits the college’s main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, a few times a year to represent Whiting-Turner at job fairs, in the release. “It is exciting to be part of a project that will provide a new learning environment for students.”

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