In less than two years, Virginia Tech will have a new life sciences research building. Construction began in September on the 72,000 square foot building that will be located on Washington Street.

Facilities for life sciences research were in the university's capital plan in the late 1990s, but were stalled by the state budget crisis, said Dixon Hanna, associate provost. Then Virginians passed the general obligation bond and the project was back on track.

When the master plan envisioned the area along Duck Pond Road and Washington Street as a "life sciences precinct," the three-story building encompassing animal care facilities and life science laboratories was the first building the state approved in the precinct.

"Provost Mark McNamee set us on the course for creating more generic university research space. The expectation is that it will be state of the art but generic, with flexible, laboratory space," Hanna said.

One floor will support cell research, one floor will support microbiology research, there will be biological safety level (BSL) 3 labs and the basement will be a state of the art small animal vivarium. "We will have a research facility that will meet NIH and CDC standards," Hanna said.

"It is the facility we need to accommodate the increased NIH-funded and biomedical research we are doing," said University Veterinarian Taranjit Kaur.

The building, which will provide space for more than 200 faculty, students, and staff engaged in biological research, will be managed by the university rather than by a college. The Office of the Provost will establish criteria for assigning the research space, Hanna said. "Biology, agriculture, and veterinary medicine are hiring new faculty and as the completion date nears, there will be a selection process for who will have space," Hanna said. "The intent is to maximize the potential to accelerate university research."

The life sciences facility is being built at a total project cost of just over $35 million, and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2007. The university has contracted with a construction management firm, Whiting and Turner, to provide preconstruction services during the design phase and manage the construction process. The construction management process allows the selection of a contractor based on qualifications, experience and cost to better deliver the highest quality project. "It is the first time this procedure has been used with a building of this size," Hanna said.

"We are excited by this additional space and interdisciplinary approach to life sciences research," said Brad Fenwick, vice president for research. "Creating this institutional space provides resources for Virginia Tech to achieve its research goals to be competitive and to respond to national priorities – all of which enhances the university's strengths and faculty members' resources for exploration."

The architect is Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott of Boston, who have designed similar use buildings, such as the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University and buildings at Boston College, Colgate University, Dartmouth Medical School and West Virginia University. Virginia Tech's building will have the classic Hokie Stone exterior, said Todd Shelton, Capital Project Manager.

A second life sciences building, also slated for the life sciences precinct, will use the construction management process and will be managed flexibly at the university level, Hanna said.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.


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