Reduced to a Hole in the Ground …

With the debris almost gone, the digging has begun! Welcome to “Rock”ingham County where construction projects typically encounter some type of digging challenges due to the rock that lurks under the surface. This project has been no different, but the workers have prevailed! Very soon we will start to see construction begin. Progress continues to be on schedule.


And Then There Was None!

The main portion of the old East Tower is now down. Only a small portion of the building remains in the southwest corner. The remaining debris is being removed (most of which is being recycled and used on other projects). Soon all that will remain will be a large hole in the ground!

Progress continues at an amazing pace, with phase two (construction) scheduled to begin in October as planned.


Amazing Progress!

If you want one last chance to see the old East Tower, you might want to go soon!  Demolition is progressing at an amazing pace as you can see by the photo; the building will be reduced to a pile of rubble by week’s end!


Exterior Demolition Under Way!

Much of the abatement process and internal demolition have been completed! It is hard to see the magnitude of change occurring at the site on the webcam, but if you have traveled past the area recently, you have probably noticed large portions of the external building now starting to come down.

We apologize for the noise of the jack hammers and other demolition equipment. Due to the proximity of the other buildings, much of the demolition must occur by hand or with smaller equipment. This process is moving very quickly and soon the jack hammers will be replaced with the wrecking ball and heavy equipment.  Demolition remains on schedule for an October 2014 completion.

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Abatement and Interior Demolition

By CHBS Deans Office

It is hard to see on our webcam, but the abatement and interior demolition process for the new CHBS building is progressing.  Additional abatement will be conducted on the exterior of Montpellier Hall to address previously concealed asbestos.  Don’t be alarmed if you see workers wearing safety suits outside of the building—there is no danger to the public, but workers who are in direct contact with asbestos will take special precautions.

Abatement and demolition should be completed by October 15 and construction of the new building will immediately follow.

Construction Phase Begins!

By CHBS Dean’s Office

The construction of our new building has started with the demolition of the east tower of the old hospital building.

You can monitor construction progress by viewing the live web cam that is linked from the icon on the right. The image on this web cam is updated every 10 minutes. When viewing the camera, when you select “Play,” the series of photographs are played, creating a time-lapse video that shows the work completed to date. The series will expand as the work continues.

The construction manager for our project is Skanska.  Skanska is an international construction group with a major presence in the United States.  Skanska recently completed the construction of Duke Hall.

Construction began with site preparation such as the erection of fencing, disconnecting power and water to the building, protecting drains from the introduction of contaminants.  This work was completed in May 2014.

Skanska has started abatement and removal of items that must be done by hand, including the careful removal of hazardous materials from the old building. They are working from the top floor downward, and as of the end of May they had completed the 6th floor and were working on the 5th. During this process, asbestos was discovered. Care will be taken to contain asbestos residue during removal, and this will delay the overall building demolition process. The expectation is that demolition will be completed October 1, 2014.

Exterior Views!

Exciting news! Our architects have provided renderings of the exterior of our building, as shown below:

CHBS Building North View

Click image to enlarge.

The north side of the building, facing Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (historic Cantrell Avenue). This entrance will lead to the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic operated by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

CHBS Building South View

Click image to enlarge.

The south side of the building, facing campus. Most students will enter on this side of the building as they walk from the Quad, past Burruss Hall and Grace Street. The newly renovated university student success and health center building is visible on the left.

CHBS Building East View

Click image to enlarge.

The east side of the building, depicted at dusk with the sun setting in the background. This is the view of the building from the parking deck that is used by faculty, staff and students.

“Preliminary Design” Concludes

By CHBS Dean’s Office

During the past few months our EYP architects have been adding details to our floor plans.  They have visited us three times, conducing day-long meetings that have stretched over four days during each visit.  The last of these visits concluded on November 14.  Floor plan details were added during these meetings.  We discussed cabinetry, furnishings and equipment so that these items could be precisely accommodated within rooms.  The positioning of building utilities necessary to operate equipment were important discussion items.

Considerable time during these meetings was spent discussing the design of the many classrooms included in the building.  A survey of faculty classroom needs was conducted and care was taken to ensure that the needs described by most faculty will be accommodated.  All larger classrooms will be wider than they are deep; this orientation permits the instructor to be closer to every student in the class and creates a more intimate teaching environment.  The latest technology will be included in our classrooms and they will be designed to be flexible, so that many room features would be available to faculty who use various teaching methods.  All classrooms will have electronic podiums for the instructor so that the teacher can present materials from a wide range of sources to their class.  There will be an abundance of white boards on the front and sides of most rooms. Larger rooms will be tiered to make it easier for students to see past the students in front of them.  Classrooms were classified into five types based primarily on the number of students they could accommodate.  The largest three types of classes will have two separate computers to permit the presentation of different images on multiple screens.  Two 185-student classrooms will be our largest rooms and these will have three screens so that multiple separate images can be presented by the instructor.  We will have several 80-student and 60-student classrooms with two screens.  Smaller classrooms for 48- and 30-students with single-screen projectors, as well as seminar rooms with flat-panel monitors will also be available.

Our meetings also included substantial discussion of public spaces within the building.  The building will include many locations for students to wait between classes and places for them to study.  Seating and tables and chairs for both individuals and small groups will be provided.  There will be many places throughout the building for students to charge personal electronic devices and internet-connected printer stations will be available at several locations.  A major topic of discussion was the use of photographs, artwork, words, icons, and color on floors 1 through 4 to create neighborhoods that suggest the primary activities conducted on that floor.  The ground floor has the primary entrance to the building and our largest classrooms and so this will be the most visited; we talked about how we can convey the overall focus of our college on that floor.  The fifth floor includes the CHBS Dean’s Suite and a meeting room for events that include people from the whole campus and our community; the college mission needs to be conveyed using artwork on this floor.  Discussions regarding the design, artwork and furnishing of public spaces will continue.

Our architects will now take the ideas we have discussed and finalize the floor plans for every room in the building.  Shortly after receiving approval the plans they develop, they will be begin working developing detailed construction plans for the building.  Meanwhile, JMU is beginning the process of identifying a contractor who will be responsible for constructing our building.

“Preliminary Design” Begins

The “Schematic Design” phase of our project is now complete. Our architects have developed a list of all spaces that will be needed and we have a plan for how these spaces combine to create a coherent 6-story building. The plan has been submitted to the Commonwealth of Virginia for review and approval of both the design and budget for the project. Things are moving forward on schedule!

The “Preliminary Design” phase has commenced. During the week of September 30, EYP architects returned to JMU to begin a series of week-long meetings that will repeat at three week intervals. This work focuses on room-by-room planning as well as conversations about the common spaces within the building. The building will have incredible laboratories for teaching and research for four CHBS departments. Discussion included seating plans for students in classrooms and in public spaces throughout the building. We spent considerable time discussing how adequate space can be planned for students to be productive as they wait between classes. We discussed possible visual themes throughout the building, use of display boards, interior glazing, artwork in order to convey the activities that central to the mission of the college and our departments.

This building will be one of JMU’s best in many respects. We are going to have a sizable number of classrooms, including some larger ones, and most JMU students are likely to take at least one of their classes in our building regardless of their major. Our classrooms will be well designed and will have an intimate feel even when the class size is large. The building will have a high-density wireless capability and will be able to accommodate a tremendous number of individuals with portable devices. The top floors of the building will have some of the best views; depending on your location you will be able to see most of the JMU Campus, downtown Harrisonburg, or beautiful mountain vistas. A special-event meeting room on the top floor will have views in three directions.

The next few months will be a very busy time for design of our new building! This phase concludes with the submission of preliminary design documents to the state.

CHBS Building Blog – Installment 2

By CHBS Dean’s Office

Key Organizational Drivers

  • Encourage CONNECTIONS using shared spaces
  • Multiple departments per floor – MIXING
  • ACTIVATE each floor
  • Natural LIGHT
  • Distribute INFORMAL LEARNING spaces throughout

JMU has received funding for the construction phase of our project!  Meanwhile, the process of planning the new CHBS building continued with all-day meetings among the EYP architects and CHBS stakeholders on June 4 and 5, 2013.  During these meetings we reviewed and discussed preliminary plans for public spaces, classrooms, and the spaces being designed for use by each of the departments that will move to our new building.  The key organizational drivers for the entire building are described in the box to the right.  In this installment of our blog, we will provide more detail regarding the plans that are developing.

Public Space

Our building will include a substantial volume of public space that will invite building visitors to enter and explore our building, and will provide residents with places that facilitate interaction.  In this large, multi-story building, we want to make it easy for visitors to feel well orientated, and we want to make it easy to find their way around.  We want individuals to feel comfortable working, waiting or resting between classes or other activities.  We want to provide many opportunities for people to interact with other in ways that promote interprofessional and interdepartmental collaborations.  Even hallways are being considered opportunities to communicate with students and other building visitors.  We want to facilitate communication among individuals who encounter each other as they traverse the building.

Public spaces include areas for informal learning, study spaces, and pre-function spaces where individuals can wait before going into a larger room.  These sorts of spaces are scattered throughout the building.  The center of the building will contain the largest volume of public space, with inviting areas for sitting and interacting.  Substantial attention is being paid to strategically placing windows throughout the building to bring natural light into public spaces including the center of the building.  Use of glass on inner walls will help visitors appreciate what is taking place within closed rooms and will bring light to the interior of the building.

The nature of the public spaces will vary across the building.  Some areas will need to accommodate a large flow of students who leave and enter classrooms in great numbers at certain times each day.  Other areas will be quieter and can include individual and group study spaces with a range of furnishings for different types of activities.  The whole building will have substantial wireless internet capacity and we have discussed the importance of providing power in public spaces for recharging laptops, notepads and telephones.


The building includes 17 classrooms of various sizes from large tiered lecture halls to small seminar rooms.  Substantial attention is being paid to room design to optimize the student experience in every space.  This includes trying to designing lecture classrooms so they feel like intimate spaces for student-faculty and student-student interaction.  Consultants are helping us design classrooms that take full advantage of advanced technology that is likely to be available in three years when the building opens, and can easily be upgraded to options that emerge in the more distant future.  Our classrooms are being designed not only facilitate lecture-style teaching, but also more interactive mode of instruction including project-based learning.  Room furnishings and placement of low-tech teaching tools such as white boards will be carefully selected to facilitate the wide range of pedagogy that takes place in our college.

Overall Layout

JMU ET_Concept Design Side View

Click image to enlarge.

The diagram to the right depicts the overall layout of the building.  As you can see, the most accessible and most public floors will be on the ground level and first floor.  The next three floors facilitate interprofessional learning.  The top floor will be the quietest area within the building.  As we continue, we’ll describe our plans, floor-by-floor.

Ground Floor

Most visitors to our building will enter the ground-floor level, after waling through a courtyard on the south side of the building that is oriented towards the quad.  On this level we will have some of our largest lecture halls and classrooms.  On this floor there will also be a suite for the dietetics program that includes a dining facility that will also be used for scheduled events.  A large stairway and three elevators will take you to higher levels within the building.

First Floor

A small entrance on the northern side of the building, facing Cantrell Avenue, will bring off-campus visitors directly into the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic operated by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).  This clinic provides services to the community while also serving as a training ground for students and an applied research center.  Offices for CSD faculty and staff are also on this floor as well as the offices for Creative Services.  There are also 4 classrooms on this floor.

A small entrance on the east side of the building will bring visitors to this floor from nearby parking decks.  Most visitors are expected to enter this floor through the ground-level entrance and then up the stairs or elevator.

Second Floor

The home office for the Social Work Department will be on this floor; this will include offices for all faculty and staff and workspaces for students.  Facilitating interprofessional collaborations, this floor will also include offices for some Health Sciences faculty, Occupational Therapy and Athletic Training labs.  The floor also includes a Nursing Skills lab as well as two classrooms.

Third Floor

The home office for the Health Sciences Department will be on this floor.  A substantial number of Health Sciences faculty and staff offices will be located here as well as some offices for some Nursing faculty members. Laboratories on the third floor include Skills Labs for Social Work, a Simulation Lab for Nursing, and a Home Environment Lab for Health Sciences.  There are four classrooms on this floor.

Fourth Floor

The home office for the Nursing Department will be on this floor.  A substantial number of Nursing faculty and staff offices will be here as well as offices for some Health Sciences faculty members.  This floor will have Health Assessment and Practical labs for Nursing, as well as three classrooms.

Fifth Floor

The Dean’s Office suite will be on the top floor of the building.  This floor will also include a large meeting room for scheduled events and laboratories for Communication Sciences and Disorders research.