The $30.3 million re-construction of White Hall on West Virginia University’s Downtown Campus began last week with workers demolishing the interior of the old computer lab.

As part of the construction process, the sidewalks in front of White Hall adjacent to both Willey Street and University Avenue will be fenced off from the curb to the building beginning next week (April 19) and will remain closed through the summer of 2011 to provide for pedestrian safety and allow workers the room needed to work safely.

The area between White Hall and Wise Library will also be closed to the public during the same period so that electrical upgrades and new access and exit pathways can be installed, along with American Disability Act-compliant ramps, new staircases and a wider commons with benches.

“We do everything we can to minimize the impact people experience while renovating or constructing buildings, and I know it will be discomforting to have this section of campus closed off. But when White Hall reopens, the community will be proud of what has been done,” said John Sommers, the project’s construction manager.

Currently, the building is a raw and exposed shell after interior walls were demolished, hazardous materials abated and outdated mechanical and electrical systems removed in the summer of 2008 to prepare for the current phase of construction.

Once construction is completed in the spring of 2012, White Hall will be home to WVU’s prestigious department of physics, and is set to become one of the most modern and progressive physics buildings in the United States.

The design calls for classrooms, research labs, offices and support space that will be energy and water efficient, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and have improved indoor environmental air quality. An innovative glass wall system that opens to the outdoors will be installed on each floor so that new equipment can be moved in quickly with minimal interruption to ongoing research.

In addition, a clean lab with sophisticated air filtering systems will be incorporated into the building. A rooftop planetarium, optical telescope and radio telescope will also be installed along with upgraded HVAC and electrical systems. Other structural and mechanical renovations will bring the building into compliance with current life safety codes.

Much of the historic brass used in the building’s doors, windows and railings will be restored. The marble flooring and travertine walls will also be refurbished. Although White Hall is not undergoing an historic renovation, maintaining historic features reduces waste and adds to the overall sustainability of the project.

White Hall is a six-story classroom building originally constructed in 1942 as the Mineral Industries Building.



CONTACT: John Sommers, WVU Facilities Management

Follow @wvutoday on Twitter.