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Mace & Crown | April 25, 2018

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Looking Ahead: Campus Construction Projects at ODU

Looking Ahead: Campus Construction Projects at ODU construction projects construction projects


Jason Kazi, Jugal Patel, Stef Wasko, and Amy Poulter
Staff Writers

Students returning to Old Dominion University this semester were met by the usual ensemble of cranes, crews and half-constructed landmarks taking shape off of 49th Street and Hampton Boulevard.

The new residential dining hall and education building, respectively, are two among a variety of construction projects set to rapidly transform the campus landscape.

To gain a better understanding of these construction projects, the Mace and Crown staff sat down with Director of Design and Construction, Dale Feltes, to discuss what can be expected for future Monarchs.

College of Education Building

  • Street level view of the Darden College of Education Building. Photo by Jason Kazi.

The new five-story Education Building is on track for completion by mid-2016 with classes moving into the building in early 2017. The $45 million, 127,000-square-foot building will feature 13 classrooms with capacity to hold 200 students, 151 faculty offices, 9 laboratories for science, technology education, mathematics and industrial technology, dedicated space for Monarch Teach program, Virginia Early Childhood Policy Center and ODU Literacy Center; a learning commons theater, dean’s conference room, doctoral defense room, staff and faculty offices, informal learning spaces and a multi-purpose auditorium on the first floor.


Residential Dining Hall

  • construction projects
    Courtesy: Hourigan Construction

The 45,000-square-foot, two-story dining hall facility is also on track for completion by mid-2016, just in time for students to enjoy the variety of food choices by the fall semester. The facility will feature a South American churrasco grill and rotisserie, Mexican eatery, Italian bistro, American classic snack bar, bakery, noodle bar, hibachi grill and an international-style tapas bar with a sushi robot. The building will also seat 550 students indoors and up to 225 students outdoors on two separate patios. The second floor of the building will be used as an executive dining room and board room. The dining hall will become the landmark eating facility while the New Student Union is being built.

RELATED: State of the Art Dining Hall to Serve Diverse Palates

A Future in the Floodplain – How the University is Preparing for Rising Seas

  • construction projects
    Aerial View of Old Dominion University

Water stifles campus from all fronts during any regular deluge. It reclaims campus by tidal forces swaying through the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay. At times, it levels and crashes by storm surge.


Tidal flooding outside Rogers Hall in November of 2015

It struggles as rain to press through aging drainage pipes heading to an exit now submerged by the sea, even at low tide. From below, it rises from a groundwater table, already steep, as space below the surface becomes saturated by enveloping floodwaters.

Life at Old Dominion University takes place on a flat scope of land resting precariously between the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers. For the university, the unfortunate settlement is reason enough to be ready for rising seas as it builds into the future.

According to Feltes, weather events with the statistical odds of occurring once every 100 years are now starting to occur every three to four years.

— see related: Unpacking Kerry’s Climate Speech

At least in the near future, it takes a three-dimensional look as space confines.

“I would anticipate that we will start to see mechanical systems start to migrate to second floors, instead of being on first floors. More buildings will be built up on a plinth,” said Feltes.

New buildings are also required to be built higher.

“When we finish the New Student Union, you’re probably going to see a very large stormwater feature somewhere around Kaufman Mall– we will make it very attractive by making it a centerpiece. We have to deal with stormwater on site, today.”

The details of solving the university’s flooding problems are an ongoing process that will evolve in tandem with a growing research background on adaptation. In current scholarly literature, there’s very little on dealing with a perpetually advancing coastline.

Because of the knowledge gap, all sorts of community members have played a role in adaptation.

— see related: Students Recruited to Brainstorm Flooding, Sea Level Rise Solutions

Storm water management is already becoming a major concern for the campus, and will only continue to worsen according to projected trends of sea level rise.

To reflect the worsening floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has updated floodplain maps in our area within the last 18 months. The changes mean that areas once outside the floodplain are now within them, producing a variety of new policy changes for homeowners, businesses, governments and the university.

Climate change is expected to contribute to about 2 feet of sea level rise around Norfolk by 2050, and Old Dominion University is on pace to become a leading institution in adapting to the new flooding paradigm.  

— see related: ODU Students Work on Nation’s First Climate Change Adapted Neighborhood

In 2010, the university’s Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative was established. It marked the end of a time where there was little community-wide discussion around adapting to climate change in the Tidewater region. Problems were only becoming clearer.

Scientists, some of which are currently doing world-renowned research at ODU, began to realize that the Atlantic had its eyes set on storming the Chesapeake Bay over and over with the ebbs and flows of higher high tides—slowly and painfully as time would come to pass and perhaps to the peril of vulnerable coastal cities in its way.

Already, over the past century, the coastline at Naval Station Norfolk’s Sewells Point tide gauge has risen about a foot-and-a-half, significantly faster than the global average.

The university plans to integrate additional cisterns– or giant water storage tanks– under buildings, as well water retention ponds in the future.

According to Feltes, the university is aiming for LEED-Gold certification for the New Residential Dining Hall Facility and the New Student Union.

LEED certification of a building is determined by the following factors: sustainable site choice, water savings systems, sustainable energy systems (air conditioning, heating, ventilation, lighting and hot water), use of recycled/local/regional construction materials, indoor environment quality and innovation in the building’s overall design.

According to Virginia state law, all construction projects on the campus have to be at a minimum LEED-Silver certified.

Continue to explore more campus construction projects:

L.R. Hill Sports Complex Expansion

construction projects

Courtesy: Old Dominion University

The L.R. Hill Sports Complex, currently used mainly as a football practice facility, is set to be expanded. The complex is also used by the women’s lacrosse and field hockey teams. The expansion, being carried out in two phases, will involve enlarging the facility by 16,912-square-foot by relocating and enlarging the existing 6,000-square-foot weight training facility to the new addition. The expansion will also include offices for the strength coach and staff, offices for academic advisers and graduate assistants, a meeting room, a dining area and a workout mezzanine with a large picture window looking out onto the practice field. Construction on the $4.16 million project being built by RRRM Design-Build and designed by Clark-Nexsen Architecture and Engineering began in late 2015, with completion expected this fall. The project will be funded by original (leftover) funding from the original building’s construction in 2008. No tax money will be spent.


Mitchum Basketball Performance Center

construction projects

A rendering of the Basketball Performance Center provided by Old Dominion University.

Construction on the 24,000-square-foot basketball practice facility kicked off in late 2015. The $8,400,000 facility is set to include two full-sized practice courts, a 14,000-square-foot strength conditioning and training space, locker and shower rooms, team offices, conference rooms and players’ lounges. The project is located in between the Ted Constant Convocation Center and the University Village. Clark-Nexsen Architecture & Engineering designed the project and the lowest bidder, P.G. Harris Construction Company will build it. The project is being funded by the ODU Athletic Foundation.

“That’s all private dollars,” said Feltes. “There are no student fees in that, there’s no university debt and obviously no state funding.”

The City of Norfolk has approved the site plan and substantial work will start on the site within the next week. The project will provide the men’s and women’s basketball team with a full-fledged, state-of-the-art facility.

“Everything they need to play basketball well is in this facility except for a physical laundry room,” said Feltes.

Addressing Students’ Parking and Housing Concerns

construction projects

A view of the 43rd Street Parking Garage. Courtesy: SB Ballard Construction Company


The Campus Master Plan approved in late 2013, calls for 3,600 additional parking spaces in the foreseeable future. The plan proposes new parking garages at the current sites of the Recreation Center field, the Facilities Management building and just south of Garage C. The plan also proposes new surface lots just north of Foreman Field, on Killam Ave between 46th and 47th Street, adjacent to the District and on Killam Avenue between 40th and 41st Street. The plan also calls for pedestrian bridges on Hampton Boulevard at 49th Street and in front of the Ted Constant Convocation Center. These bridges would have to be approved by both the City of Norfolk and the Virginia Port Authority prior to being built.

There are two residence hall buildings equalling 760 beds that are master planned and approved. The two buildings are planned to be built on 49th Street just west of Dominion House. The architectural design of the new buildings would be similar to the rest of the Quad Housing. Other future sites for student housing includes four additional apartment buildings in the University Village totalling 718 beds, four residence halls surrounding what is currently Foreman Field, two residence halls along Elkhorn Avenue next to the Baseball Stadium totalling 510 beds and two residence halls just north of the District complex totalling 550 beds. Multipurpose recreational fields would be built on the current sites of Rogers Hall and Gresham Hall, due to their age and susceptibility to flooding.

Whitehurst Hall Improvements

construction projects

Street-level view of Whitehurst dormitory

Both the Legends Dining Hall in Whitehurst and the residence hall’s HVAC system are expected to be upgraded soon. A $3.38 million project is planned to improve the building’s ventilation. Currently, the working drawings by project designer VMDO Architects are about 90 percent completed. If the project is approved in accordance with state regulations, the project would take place next summer with expected completion by the fall. Not much is known at this time about the Legends project, but it will involve renovating (not expanding) the existing facility.

Courage Millers Partners Obstacle Course

construction projects

Homeland Contracting Corporation’s working drawings of the challenge course.

An outdoor, twelve station challenge course designed and run by the Department of Recreation and Wellness is being planned for Whitehurst Beach. The purpose of the course is to promote team cooperation more than physical fitness.

“That’s my biggest hope,” Bridget Nemeth, director of Recreation and Wellness, said, “that students see this awesome course and recognize it as a great facilitator of teamwork.”

Groups of students or faculty will make their way through a sequence of low-level –no more than one to two feet off the ground — adaptable puzzles and obstacles lead by a trained facilitator.

The course will be ADA certified and can be adapted to meet the particular needs of any group. Homeland Contracting Corporation won the construction contract at just over $225,000. Christopher Pewterbaugh, the project manager for Design and Construction at ODU, says Homeland hopes to break ground mid-February and to finish the course by the end of April of this year.

The course’s mission will be to “provide unique and engaging team building experiences to develop cohesiveness among group members. We strive to enhance confidence, trust and personal growth through dynamic challenge opportunities,” said Pewterbaugh. The project is entirely funded by donations from Ralf Courage and Jeffrey Miller from Courage Millers Partners, LLC.


Child Study Center Moving to the University Village

construction projects

Street-level view of the current Lions Child Study Center

In mid-2017, the Child Study Center will move to the University Village. The building’s construction is being funded as a part of the New Education Building project because it was originally going to be a renovation of the current facility, adjacent to the Batten Arts and Letters building. However, the university ran into issues because the cost of a renovation of the Lions Child Study Center has exceeded the cost of building a new facility in the Village along Killam Ave. The building is currently in its design phase with a final design expected to be ready by the end of this year. The building could be complete as soon as early 2018.

Student Union Building

A detailed analysis is underway to determine whether renovating the existing Webb Center would be more or less cost-effective than building a new student union. Regardless of which direction ODU heads in, there will be a need to account for space on the existing Webb Center footprint for a new Student Engagement and Enrollment Services building and the new Physical Sciences building. The master plan for the new Physical Sciences building site will not be available until the schematic drawings of the new Student Union building, which are expected to be completed in the late April or early May by Moseley Architects and WTW Architects, are submitted. The former Education Building would likely be used as a temporary space for offices and facilities currently housed in the Webb Center.

Physical Sciences Phase I Building

In 2014, the New Physical Sciences Building was authorized to move to preliminary design by the General Assembly in Richmond. This year, the project is in the government budget for potential approval. The project, however, will not move forward until schematic drawings for the New Student Union have been completed.

Explaining the drawing process, Feltes said, “There are three phases to architectural drawings. Schematic drawing is 15 percent of the building’s design, preliminary drawing is 35 percent of the design and working drawing is 90 percent of the design.”

The new building will feature undergraduate laboratories, graduate teaching laboratories, offices and a new planetarium. Due to the complicated nature of science buildings — mechanical systems and life safety equipment — the building will likely take 15 to 16 months to fully design, before any construction can begin.

Health Sciences Building

As mentioned in President Broderick’s State of the University address earlier this fall, replacing the Health Sciences building is the next big priority. If authorized by the General Assembly, the two buildings would be housed on the current site of the Education Building. Phase I would be a 82,000-square-foot building along Hampton Boulevard with Phase II being a 48,000-square-foot building just behind it.

Note: Plans for the new stadium have not been included in this article because the feasibility study is still underway and the Mace and Crown is expecting to receive results in February from the community survey conducted in late 2015.