VMI Construction May Impact Your Visit to Lexington
Significant construction projects continue through the 2021-2022 academic year and may impact traffic and parking on the post of Virginia Military Institute as well as downtown Lexington.
Ongoing projects include:
Aquatic Center—The $44.2 million Aquatic Center is taking shape along North Main Street next to the Corps Physical Training Facility. Completion is expected by the end of November 2022.
Work is also underway at the historic American Legion building, also known as the Knights of Pythias building, which was moved in 2014 to make way for the Aquatic Center. At that building, new structural steel framing has been put in to support floor joists, and eventually, Whiting-Turner, general contractor on the project, will move its field office into the building. When the Aquatic Center is complete, the American Legion building will have offices for athletic department staff on the first floor and a classroom/conference room on the second floor.
The Aquatic Center, which will replace the 52-year-old pool in the Cocke Hall Annex, will contain an indoor 50-meter swimming pool, two 1-meter springboards, two 3-meter springboards, and a 5-meter dive platform, plus seating for 570 spectators.
Scott Shipp Hall -Wrapping up this fall will be the $43.2 million Scott Shipp Hall project, an initiative which has included construction of a new, 28,000-square-foot addition to the building, plus renovation of the original 1918 portion and a 1955 addition. Construction of the new addition was completed in the fall of 2020, and that, plus the 1955 portion, opened for cadet and faculty use in time for the spring 2021 semester.
Contractors are currently working in the 1918 section of the building, with completion set for October or November 2021. Cadets and faculty are expected to use the entire building in early 2022.
Once the work is complete, the Adams Center for Military History and Strategic Analysis will occupy a 3,600-square-foot space on the 300 level of Scott Shipp Hall, with office space for the director, deputy director, cadet assistants, and a research library.
Chessie Nature Trail Bridge – A long-awaited project for the community is underway. A pedestrian bridge carrying the Virginia Military Institute-owned Chessie Nature Trail over the South River is expected to be replaced this fall. The original bridge was washed away by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and ever since then, trail users have had to detour onto Stuartsburg Road to continue on the trail, which is a 7.2-mile journey from Lexington to Buena Vista.
During the months of construction, the Chessie Nature Trail will remain open to the public. A limited closure from Old Shepherd Road to the north boundary of trail parking along Stuartsburg Road at the South River Bridge will be offset with a detour. Informational signage will be in place to direct trail users. Those accessing the river in the area of the construction will need to find alternate locations for entry and exit during this time.
Superintendent’s Quarters— A renovation of the Superintendent’s Quarters, the most far-reaching in over 25 years, began over the summer, with the intent of upgrading the historic home’s electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems, plus painting and other home maintenance tasks.
The Superintendent’s Quarters is also being made accessible for those with mobility challenges. A ramp is being built from the sidewalk to the side door closest to the commandant’s office, and a first-floor bathroom is being renovated to comply with current accessibility requirements.
Because the Superintendent’s Quarters is one of the oldest buildings on post, and is both listed as a National Register property and as a National Historic Landmark, its renovation has been undertaken in consultation with architectural historians at the state Department of Historic Resources. Work is scheduled for completion in the early summer of 2022.
Completed Construction Projects:
Plaza In Front of Marshall Arch – In the summer of 2021, a new project was completed that provides enhanced accessibility to the Parade Ground, honors the sacrifice of Allied soldiers in World War II, and recognizes the international contributions of Gen. George C. Marshall, VMI Class of 1901. The project, which was completed with the help of architectural and engineering firm Wiley|Wilson and staff from Physical Plant, relocated the visual focus of the Parade Ground to New Barracks.
New flagpoles, each 80 feet tall, were placed on either side of the statue of Marshall, and a 21-panel granite hardscape was built in front of the statue. Flanking the statue are two sets of stairs and two ramps, providing access to the Parade Ground for people who use mobility devices. The entire project was designed with Marshall and his contributions, particularly those during World War II, in mind. While Marshall served in multiple roles after the war, among them secretary of state, secretary of defense, and architect of the European Recovery Program, commonly known as the Marshall Plan, he was instrumental as Army chief of staff throughout World War II as he led the largest military expansion in U.S. history.
More information is available in the September 2021 Institute Report.
Cadet Parking Lot – A parking lot for cadet cars at Lackey Park, off Greenhouse Road in the vicinity of Rockbridge County High School, was completed this summer. The new, $3.5 million lot, with space for approximately 340 cars, includes safety features such as security lighting and a fence. As in years past, one cadet from each 1st Class room is allowed to park on post, with the others required to keep their vehicles at Lackey Park. Plans call for all cadet cars to be kept at Lackey Park during the 2022-23 academic year.
Anderson Drive – Construction of a new, two-lane bridge over Woods Creek on Anderson Drive was finished just before matriculation in August 2020. The road now curves more gently as motorists exit main post and head toward Jordan’s Point. Turning off the previous, one-lane bridge required a 90-degree turn, but the new bridge has an easier turn to navigate. The project also added a sidewalk leading from the Marshall Hall parking lot to Gray-Minor Stadium.
Preston Library - Near the end of August, an event central to VMI’s educational mission quietly took place: the reopening of Preston Library to the VMI community after a $19.3 million renovation – the library’s first in nearly 25 years. Prior to the renovation, the library entrance, the fifth floor, was somewhat dark and involved two sets of doors. Now, visitors walk through one door into a brighter, wider vestibule and can see the service desk just to the right of the elevator straight ahead.
Likewise, the seventh floor of the library, once inaccessible by elevator, is now accessible. That floor, formerly home to the Mathematics Education and Resource Center (MERC), is now the site of a conference room boasting what could be the best view on post of the Parade Ground—and House Mountain as a bonus in the background.
The sixth floor provides space for academic support services—the MERC, the VMI Center for Undergraduate Research (VCUR), and the Office of Sponsored Programs, which supports faculty research. It is also home to a large study space for cadets and rows upon rows of books.
One floor below on the main floor of the library, where library patrons and visitors enter off Letcher Avenue, is the Turman Room, redone with conference room-style seating. With the need for social distancing, and classroom space in short supply, the Turman Room was used as a classroom. In addition, the newly renovated learning commons features a bank of computers for cadet use, and offices for reference librarians close by.
VMI Police Headquarters – The $5.6 million project to create a new home for the VMI Police, with nearly 11,000 square feet of space was completed in the Fall of 2020. The building itself has been built to withstand the 180-mile-per-hour winds of a Category 4 hurricane. Inside, there is bulletproof glass between staff and visitors, along with dedicated rooms for processing evidence and fingerprints. Upstairs, an emergency operations center (EOC) with a smart whiteboard and televisions for news broadcasts will be able to accommodate eight people working in it at once.