A well-traversed campus pedestrian thoroughfare will transform into a destination unto itself under an upcoming renovation project at Virginia Tech.

The paved plaza and green lawns adjacent to Dietrick Hall are set to be revitalized into a Spirit Plaza, a gathering space that will be lively, user friendly, and sustainable.

Final design renderings and associated interior renovations within Dietrick Hall received approval by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors on Nov. 17.

Located at the core of the Virginia Tech’s student residential area, Dietrick Hall, its dining facilities, and exterior spaces are host to continuous pedestrian traffic and activity. In spite of this, Dietrick Plaza and portions of the building’s first floor remain underutilized.

Spirit Plaza will deliver a welcoming connection among the athletic, academic, and residential sides of campus. The plaza will encompass exterior spaces around the southern façade of Dietrick Hall, including the north end of Dietrick lawn across Washington Street from Cassell Coliseum.

Project planning continues to advance forward through close collaboration between Virginia Tech Student Affairs and the Facilities Department.

Proposed exterior transformation

Currently, Dietrick Plaza is underused with its expansive concrete and lack of shade. The approved renderings offer new opportunities for both large and more intimate community gatherings through implementation of interconnected sub-plazas.

The upper end of the plaza will feature sloped lawns for outdoor seating and events and the mid-tier will include Hokie Stone-lined stadium seat walls. The lower end will host additional seating and stadium walls, patio chairs and tables, planter beds, and dedicated hardscape for events.

The natural elements incorporated will help make the plaza more aesthetically pleasing, boost shade for visitors, and improve storm water management. New trees and lawn beds will be planted along with planter beds containing native drought-resistant plant species.

In the university’s commitment to delivering accessible and inclusive spaces, accessible pathways, lawns, and seating will be incorporated. Stadium seating will include companion seat cut-outs to ensure accessibility.

Exterior spaces will offer WiFi access for daily use. The spaces will also be well-lit for safe after-hours use. In addition, the space will offer more options for student organization activities and programming. Additional indoor seating, combined with inspiring outdoor lighting and gathering spaces will provide students an exceptional space to come together in the evening hours.

Additionally, the HokieBird statue currently found in the lobby of Cassell Coliseum may be relocated to the Spirit Plaza, providing another iconic space on campus to capture a photo.

Spirit Plaza and its outdoor spaces are set to deliver a pivotal linkage among two mobility projects punctuated throughout Beyond Boundaries 2047: The Campus Plan, the Spirit Trail and Infinite Loop. 

dietrick hall interior rendering
Proposed interior rendering within Dietrick Hall.

Dietrick Hall interior renovations

Dietrick Hall and its extensive dining offerings are central to the daily lives of students in the university’s residential district.

The proposed addition of 200 new interior seats will provide engaging areas for campus members to be in community within the first floor of Dietrick Hall. The enhanced seating will help expand Virginia Tech Dining Services’ capacity to meet future enrollment growth emphasized throughout the campus master plan while delivering new collaborative spaces for the campus community. 

Existing exterior areas under the Dietrick Hall second floor overhang will be enclosed to capture additional interior dining, retail, and gathering space. New southern exposure glazing will bring in more natural light to first-floor venues and create a more inviting atmosphere. 

“Collaboration, sustainability, mobility, and smart growth — all guiding principles to Virginia Tech’s campus master plan — are accentuated throughout the Spirit Plaza renderings. It will be exciting to watch this project come to life and the positive impact it will have on student socialization and the overall university community,” said Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president and chief business officer.

“Dietrick Hall is a destination for almost every student, summer conference guest, and visitor to Virginia Tech,” said Frank Shushok, interim vice president for student affairs. “In so many ways, Dietrick is our front porch — a place where we greet old friends, gather new ones, and step out toward endless possibilities. The new plaza and dining experience will be a poignant articulation of our compelling history, our contagious spirit, and our far-reaching hospitality, signaling welcome to all.”

The latest updates around the renovation project will be posted on the Facilities site.

Additional Project Details:

Project phase: The project is currently in the final design stage. A feasibility study was completed in 2016-17.

Project timeline: Construction is estimated to begin in spring 2020 lasting through approximately summer 2021.

Project manager: Kyle White

Architect/Engineer: Hanbury

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