Sixteen of Virginia Tech’s most heavily used classrooms will be the target of a $7.27 million capital improvement project beginning this summer that will greatly enhance the learning environment for students and teachers in Blacksburg.

These classroom renovation projects, part of the University’s broader Classroom Master Plan Project initiated by the Office of Provost and the Office of the University Architect, will be completed in two phases—eight individual renovation projects this summer, and eight more to be completed during the summer of 2007. Another 27 rooms will receive minor cosmetic or other interior improvements this summer.

“The Classroom Master Plan speaks directly to the university’s commitment to significantly improving the learning environment at Virginia Tech,” said Provost Mark McNamee. “Our world-class faculty consistently develop new and innovative ways to teach our students, so it is essential that they teach in classrooms that can accommodate these new pedagogies. This two year renovation program will target our most heavily used classrooms, which will positively impact the greatest number of student and faculty.”

The state-funded project was authorized through the 2001 General Obligation Bond, and the funds necessary for the project were made available in 2005.

“Among the objectives of the renovation program is to provide for standard installations of instructional technology in the classrooms, and create opportunities for innovative teaching and learning experiences,” said Associate Provost Dixon Hanna, who is coordinating the classroom renovation projects for the Office of the Provost. “Something as simple as giving teachers the option of rearranging furniture as to facilitate small group discussions, for example, will greatly improve the learning environment. Making it easier for teachers and students to use instructional technology, or their own laptops for example, can create even more opportunities to learn.”

In addition to Hanna, staff in the Office of the University Architect and the departments of Capital Design and Construction and Campus Renovation played instrumental roles in this project.

Additional elements of the classroom renovation program include the improvement of lighting and acoustics, climate control, sight lines for overhead screens, overall aesthetics, and to ensure that each classroom is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Rooms scheduled to undergo renovation this summer include two lecture halls (1870 Litton-Reaves Hall and 146 Smyth Hall), two large classrooms (1860 Litton Reaves Hall and 313 Seitz Hall), and four medium sized classrooms (114 Holden Hall, 3092 Derring Hall, 129 Randolph Hall, and 221 Randolph Hall.)

Classrooms earmarked for renovations next summer include 1760 Litton-Reaves, 113 McBryde, 129 McBryde, 136 Norris, 30 Pamplin, 110 Randolph, 120 Randolph, and 210 Roberson.

As part of the Classroom Master Plan, the university hired Ira Fink and Associates, Inc., a university planning consulting firm from Berkeley, Calif., to assess classroom use and utilization. Their report, completed in March, 2005 noted that the university efficiently scheduled and utilized available classroom space, but that the university needed more classroom space to afford more flexibility in teaching styles.

Currently, Virginia Tech has approximately 170 general assignment classrooms in 27 campus buildings. Approximately 1,950 courses are taught every week on the Blacksburg campus.

In recent years, classroom improvements have been made as part of major renovations to Shanks and Williams halls. Several new classrooms and a lecture hall were brought online when the Chemistry/Physics Building was completed in 2005. The conversion of the Donaldson-Brown Hotel and Conference Center to the Graduate Life Center resulted in the creation of several seminar rooms available for graduate education programs.

The university is seeking state funding for a new 61,000 square foot classroom building for use beginning in 2012.

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