Owens House, Chemistry Building on Schedule to Open Next Fall
October 04, 2019
While much of the media focused this summer on Old Dominion University's $67.5 million makeover of S.B. Ballard Stadium, it's just one project among more than $320 million of construction on campus that is ongoing or expected to start soon.
David Robichaud, director of design and construction, said this is the most construction he's seen at ODU since work began on the University Village 20 years ago.
"And that was a massive project," he said.
President John R. Broderick told the ODU Board of Visitors recently the new facilities will help the University to expand its offerings in sciences and technology.
"When you look around the country, it's not very often that you see a college campus with more than $320 million of construction," Broderick said. "It shows our commitment to our students to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow."
The largest project is a $75.6 million Chemistry Building, which is rising just beyond the outfield fence of the baseball complex. It will replace the 53-year-old Alfriend Chemistry Building.
The $62 million Hugo Owens House residence hall is under construction at 49th Street and Powhatan Avenue. At five stories and with room for 470 students, it will be the second-largest residence hall on campus.
It is named for Hugo Owens, a Chesapeake native who boldly advocated for equal rights in the 1950s and 1960s. He later became Chesapeake's first black mayor and was the University's first African American rector.
Construction on both projects began this year, and Robichaud said they will open on time. The Owens House will be finished by mid-summer of 2020 and will open to residents next fall.
Department Chair John Cooper said the Chemistry Building will fully open in the fall of 2020.
Owens House is intended largely for students in STEM-H majors (science, technology, engineering, math and health science), as well as cybersecurity and entrepreneurial majors. It will feature two classrooms, a cybersecurity lab, a learning commons area, group study rooms and a large room to hold events.
There will be study areas on each floor.
The Chemistry Building will provide 110,000 square feet of new classrooms, offices and labs that will help the University recruit the best chemistry professors and students because it will have the most up-to-date labs in the Commonwealth.
Chemistry classes that are now spread over campus will be centralized. The first two floors will have labs, tutoring and counseling rooms and a study hall. Much of the first two floors will be visible from the outside through a large, plate-glass window.
Cooper said it's being called "STEM on display."
Cooper said the Chemistry Department is teaching more than 5,000 students per year, and that every lab and available classroom is booked. That means in spite of greater demand for chemistry classes, there's been no room to grow. This building will address that issue.
With Amazon set to build the new HQ2 complex in Arlington, there is a need for 25,000 high-tech graduates in the next few years. The state is urging universities to help meet that demand. Broderick said the Chemistry Building and Owens House will help the University to educate students for those jobs.
Jobs are also rapidly expanding in the healthcare industry, and ODU received permission from the General Assembly to do a preliminary design on an $82.6 million Health Sciences Building.
Officials anticipate the 126,000-square-foot project will be approved this winter. It will also have new physical therapy and dental hygiene clinics, which will greatly expand services available to students and the general public.
The University will also begin construction of an $11 million Student Health and Wellness Center next fall that will expand mental health and other services to students.
A $5 million renovation to Cafe 1201 in the Webb Student Center will bring an updated catering kitchen, plus an expanded Chick-fil-A, a new Qdoba Mexican Eats and a Steak n Shake. A smaller Café 1201 will also reopen.
The four venues will all open in January. A new Panera Bread is expected to open this month on Monarch Way.
ODU will soon begin a renovation of the Jim Jarrett Athletic Administration Building to turn a gymnasium there once used as a practice facility by the men's and women's basketball teams into a volleyball complex.
ODU will spend $3.5 million on the project, which will provide 800 seats and modern amenities for fans.
The volleyball program, which is being coached by Fred Chao, will began play next September.
The makeover of Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium isn't quite complete even though the stadium opened on Aug. 31 against Norfolk State in front of a sellout crowd of 21,944.
"Punch-list" items are still being completed by S.B. Ballard Construction between games, Robichaud said.