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VIDEO: Virginia Tech's New Alexandria Campus Celebrates Construction Milestone

Tue February 14, 2023 - Northeast Edition
Virginia Tech University

More than 275 community members, partners, and friends joined Virginia Tech officials and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. on Feb. 7 to celebrate the next milestone for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

At the construction site, a topping out ceremony was held on the first floor to lift a steel beam to the highest point — the 11th story — of the university's Academic Building One.

"This is a significant moment for Virginia Tech, symbolizing the tremendous progress we have made on both construction and academic planning for the Innovation Campus," said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. "The Innovation Campus will be an important source of tech talent for the greater Washington, D.C., region, and is vital to Virginia Tech's growing presence in the area. I look forward to 2024, when we welcome students, faculty and the community into this remarkable building."

A topping out is a tradition where the last beam of a building's main structure is hoisted into place. Prior to its installation, the 37-ft. beam at the Innovation Campus was signed by hundreds of construction workers as well as alumni, university leaders, faculty, community supporters and partners involved in the project. Afterward, it was secured on the northeast side of the building's top floor.

The event gave Virginia Tech and Whiting-Turner, based in Baltimore, Md., a chance to recognize contributors involved in the project's efforts. The program was held in what will eventually be the Innovation Campus' 355-seat auditorium, and featured remarks from Sands, Innovation Campus Vice President and Executive Director Lance Collins, Whiting-Turner Project Manager Summer Cleary, and Bailey Edelson from JBG SMITH, the Washington property development company, among others.

"We are building a tech community perfectly positioned to connect talented students with northern Virginia's growing tech ecosystem," said Collins. "In this process, details matter, and I am thankful for the contributions of everyone involved in the planning, design and construction of our campus to date."

Project Part of Virginia Tech Expansion to D.C. Region

Virginia Tech broke ground on the Innovation Campus in September 2021, and construction is on schedule for a fall 2024 opening.

The construction project has included digging two stories below ground to put in an underground parking garage and building out the 11-story, 300,000-sq.-ft. steel structure. Over the last 18 months, more than 1,150 workers have contributed to the project.

During that time, they have:

  • Worked more than 277,000 hours.
  • Erected 3,300 tons of structural steel.
  • Poured 13,500 cu. yds. of concrete.
  • Pumped 41.5 million gallons of water from the site.

"I am extremely proud of the hard work, dedication, and precision of each and every worker and sub-contractor who has helped with this project," said Cleary, a Virginia Tech alum who is leading a project for her alma mater for the first time. "This building is unique, and we are all excited to see the next phases of the construction come to life."

Virginia Tech's 3.5-acre campus is part of the first phase of a new mixed-use development and innovation district that JBG SMITH is developing in North Potomac Yard near the future Potomac Yard-VT Metrorail Station. The building's design focuses on principles of sustainability, health and wellness, green and social spaces, accessibility, connectivity, flexibility and integrated technology.

With the building's steel structure complete, its unique gem-shaped features now form a striking sight to all who see it. Academic Building One, designed by SmithGroup, a multinational design firm with an office in Washington, reflects the art and science of engineering and technology, and the structure's multiple angles will generate maximum solar capture to help power the building.

Campus Designed for Computer Science, Engineering

Virginia Tech's Innovation Campus Academic Building One is going up on 3.5 acres in Alexandria's Potomac Yard area near the river just south of Reagan Washington National Airport. The campus will only be a five-minute walk from the Potomac Yard-VT Metrorail Station, now under construction, but slated to open in May.

Building One's first seven floors are approximately 35,000 sq. ft. each, while the final three floors each are approximately 12,000 sq. ft.

It will include a 3,000-sq.-ft. classroom/auditorium on the first level with room for 200 people during a class, or 355 people when used as an auditorium.

Other features include:

  • 14 classrooms.
  • A 1,340-sq.-ft. cyber physical lab next to a 465-sq.-ft., two-story drone testing cage.
  • The Northern Virginia home of the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, found on the fifth floor.
  • A dedicated K-12 Programs Center on the second floor.
  • The Boeing Center for Veterans and Families, which will be co-located with the Hokie One Stop on the second floor.
  • Three instructional studios to support online teaching and learning.
  • A 4,500-sq.-ft. roof deck on the eighth floor, providing views of the Washington, D.C., skyline for groups of up to 300 people.
  • Thirty-two "huddle rooms" for student/faculty collaboration.
  • A 169-space underground parking garage equipped with eight electric charging stations.

At its full build-out, the Innovation Campus will host approximately 750 master's and 200 doctoral students focused on computer science and computer engineering, while graduating 550 master's and 50 doctoral candidates annually.

The Northern Virginia campus expects to welcome students, faculty, and staff into the completed building in the fall of 2024. Students in the area are currently based at the university's Falls Church location.

Plans call for the Innovation Campus to build two other buildings, measuring about 150,000 sq. ft. each, as the facility grows, the university added.

The main campus of Virginia Tech is located 272 miles southwest of Alexandria in Blacksburg.

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