In the coming weeks, the majority of Davidson Hall will be demolished to make way for the first phase of a renovation project that will increase the functionality and efficiency of chemistry labs and classroom space. 

Most of the structure will be razed, leaving only the building’s historic stone facade untouched.

Davidson houses laboratories, classrooms, and offices for the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science. The $31.1 million, two-year renovation will provide 45,000 square feet of state-of-the-art lab space and a new lecture hall that will seat 300 people. A second phase has been proposed for renovation of the front part of the building.

“The renovation is an opportunity for us to rearrange and consolidate some of our research efforts,” said Jim Tanko, professor head of the Department of Chemistry. “We are working to make this major transformation with the least amount of disruption for our faculty, staff, and students. We could not have made it to this point in the relocation process without their enormous efforts.” 

Tanko said laboratories, classrooms, and offices that had been in the old building have been relocated to Hahn Hall North and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center during the construction process.

The structure is scheduled for completion in fall 2013. The renovated building will include a lecture hall with the latest in instructional technologies and modern, energy efficient ventilation systems for its laboratory spaces. The architectural firm for the project is Einhorn Yafee Prescott, based in Washington, D.C.  The contractor is Barton Malow Company out of Charlottesville, Va.

“The renovation of Davidson Hall will have a major impact on the instructional and research operations of the chemistry department,” said Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science. “Students, faculty, and staff will reap the benefits of this transformation, which will provide functional, high-tech space for the department’s current and future needs.”

Davidson Hall dates to the 1930s. It was named after Robert James Davidson, a chemistry professor, dean of the Department of Applied Science, and a chemist for the Agricultural Experiment Station. Three floors of the front section and part of the two-story middle section were completed in 1928 with other sections added in 1933 and 1938. The building was renovated in 1964 and again in 1965.

Hahn Hall, the department’s main research and faculty office building was built in 1987. A third structure, initially named the Chemistry/Physics Building, was built and occupied in 2002 and contains teaching laboratories and research instrumentation.  In 2009, the third building was formally named and dedicated Hahn Hall North, honoring former university president and benefactor T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. The original Hahn Hall was then renamed Hahn Hall South.



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