Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summer is not leisure season for the VCCS Facilities Management Services department. Bert Jones, the associate vice-chancellor who manages the team, knows that faculty, staff and students are eager to move into the new or renovated spaces that have been taking shape on campuses across the state (including BRCC’s new Bioscience Building, above) so his managers and contractors are busy.

“With 23 colleges in all corners of Virginia and some structures dating back 50 years or more, it’s no surprise we have an ongoing and active construction program,” says Jones. “The system’s highest priority, of course, is to ensure safe and appropriate space for students and for the people who manage, teach and enroll in our programs.”

“That might mean renovating older facilities, or building new ones when renovation is not an option,” Jones added. “Enrollment patterns and addressing programmatic and strategic needs are major factors that drive VCCS construction decisions.”

Two dozen major capital projects are underway with activity in all phases from preplanning through construction. Their total estimated value: $533 million.

Here are a few of the projects nearing completion this summer:


Virginia Western Community College, Anderson Hall Replacement – Roanoke                 

The new Science/Technology/Engineering/Math building at Virginia Western Community College’s south campus is almost finished, and fall semester classes will be held there starting in August.

The STEM building is a four-story 72,000 square foot structure that will harmonize with recent buildings at VWCC. In addition to classrooms and modern laboratories for chemistry, fabrication, mechatronics and biotech, the STEM building will feature informal study spaces on each floor.

The project budget is $33.8 million.

The City of Roanoke is also making extensive improvements to Colonial Avenue, which bisects the VWCC campus.

John Tyler Community College – Renovations at Bird Hall and Nicholas Center – Chester


Two buildings on John Tyler Community College’s Chester campus are in final stages of major improvements.


First opened in 1967, Bird Hall is one of Tyler’s original buildings, and has been completely gutted and reimagined.

When it re-opens, Bird Hall (on the left) will be home to Tyler’s health sciences programs, including EMS and nursing, which is moving back on campus and out of leased space. With a footprint of nearly 35,000 square feet, Bird hall is expected to be ready for fall classes in August.

Tyler’s Nicholas Center is being renovated, and an addition will nearly double the building’s overall size. Most of the addition is a new workforce center, named in honor of longtime community college supporter William H. Talley, III. The workforce center will feature a large flex lab, workforce training classrooms, and conference spaces. Other parts of the Nicholas Center will house general classrooms for Tyler, student activities and student collaboration spaces, and the Chester Campus bookstore and café.

The total cost for the Tyler projects is almost $35.5 million.

Blue Ridge Community College Bioscience Building – Weyers Cave


Contractors had to contend with heavy rains in much of 2018, but they are near completion with the new Bioscience Building at BRCC. The $20.8 million project will open in August, in time for the fall semester.

The 40,000 square foot structure will house classrooms, labs, offices, and study areas, along with conference space on the first floor.


Southside Virginia Community College – New Learning Resource Center, Christanna Campus, Alberta                                             

SVCC’s new structure will house a new career center, a veteran’s center, a credentialing center, student-focused spaces for performance, exercise and food service.


Existing services to be relocated to the new 45,000 square foot building include student services, financial aid, admissions and records, student financials, comprehensive learning center (CLC), and IT Services.

The overall budget for this project is almost $15.5 million.

Eastern Shore Community College – New Academic & Administration Bldg. – Melfa

Eastern Shore Community College is getting a major makeover, with a new academic and administration building that will take the place of the current structure that dates to 1974.


In addition to providing up-to-date classroom and laboratory spaces, the new 47,200 square foot facility will include a learning resources center, large multi-purpose space, student lounge,

bookstore, catering kitchen, electronics labs, welding & fabrication labs, faculty and staff offices, plus associated support spaces.

The new building and related site improvements will be completed in October 2019. The building will be fully occupied for the spring semester 2020. The existing Academic & Administrative Building will be razed in March 2020.

Total project cost: $20.7 million.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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