The Brickell Medical Sciences Library houses Eastern Virginia Medical School’s resource collections, two classrooms, a large video-conferencing room, a history-of-medicine area, and a blend of individual- and group-study areas. The library’s impressive rotunda entrance is shared with an older medical school building, Lewis Hall, which adjoins the library. The building is a stone-clad, concrete-frame structure built on a concrete-pile foundation. It was built with connections and renovations to the existing Lewis Hall academic building during full operation of the medical school. The library’s rotunda serves as the public “face” of EVMS to visitors, students, and staff of the university.
Held in Sewell’s Point in 1907, the Jamestown Exposition celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 1607. New roads, streetcar lines, piers, and hotels had to be in place for the expected millions of visitors to the exposition. The Savoy, at 161 Granby St., was one of those hotels.
For more than a century, though, the building was most famous for its distinctive 21-inch northward tilt, earning it the moniker The Leaning Tower of Granby, and the building deteriorated to the point that it was condemned. Our team’s structural engineer, Speight Marshall and Francis, determined that the building was structurally sound despite the tilt, and in 2016 Marathon Development acquired the building, with the goal to rehabilitate and straighten it. Straightening a building that tall had never been accomplished before.
Correcting the lean on the building involved first removing non load-bearing walls, heavy plasterwork, and existing steel framework. Historic masonry walls were removed from the first two floors so a horizontal steel frame could be installed to connect all 21 columns. The team used 84 custom-made 200,000-lb jacks, eight inches in diameter. A hydraulic manifold supplied hydraulic fluid from a pump to the jacks to transfer the entire building load to the columns and into the jacking system. The columns were then cut between collars that were installed on each. This freed the building from its foundation, allowing the straightening process to begin. Even though the team was confident that the building had stopped settling 100 years ago, the foundation was stabilized with 122 helical screw piles, screwed 65-feet deep and connected to the existing pile caps. Once the jacks were energized, the lifting of the building took four days.
On the first day, workers cautiously raised the jacks a half inch. After inspecting the building for cracks and any other potential damage, the process continued, inch by inch. Some columns as little as one inch; others more than twelve. When the jacking process was complete and the building leveled again for the first time in more than 100 years, the columns were repaired with reinforcing and concrete.
The renovations that followed the straightening transformed the building. The interior of the building had been nearly gutted by a previous owner. The building was rehabilitated by retaining and preserving remaining historic features and inserting compatible finishes to restore the building for the residential apartments above and retail use on the ground floor. Remnants of previous systems were removed, and modern, code-compliant systems were installed for the building’s new use.
Office spaces above became 44 new apartments with modern amenities and the details and charm of a century-old building. Historic windows were retained where possible; windows unable to be salvaged were replaced with custom-fabricated ones to match those in historic photos. Storm windows were appended the historic sash for energy efficiency. Contemporary compatible wood flooring and ceramic tiles in bathrooms were installed in the apartments. The vast majority of historic woodwork, trim, and doors in the interior was missing. What remained was retained in place where salvageable, and what was beyond repair was replicated.
The retail footprint was extended back to its original configuration based on historic images and delineations in the floor pattern. Efforts were focused on restoring the historic ornamental plaster ceilings in the first floor retail area as this is the character-defining element and the plaster there was the most intact. Molds were taken to reproduce the missing or unsalvageable pieces. The exterior finish masonry that was removed by hand to allow for the jacking process was reinstalled where possible. Any missing bricks were replaced with additional bricks purchased as new to match the historic.
A new cornice was added along the roof on Granby Street and City Hall. New canopies of steel, aluminum, and polycarbonate to match historic photos were installed over entry doors on Granby and City Hall.
The design and construction team encountered numerous unforeseen conditions, design challenges, and logistical opportunities during this unique historic renovation. While the jacking process is laid out simply here, the actual process was highly complex and required seventy pages of drawings for each step in the straightening. The efforts to restore and preserve historical appearances throughout the building could fill a book. The building that was once a blight on the renaissance of downtown Norfolk, surrounded with seemingly permanent scaffolding and netting, now contributes to the forward motion and future of Norfolk while preserving its historic charm.
Prior to the renovation and addition, the 1959 rectangular building had glass curtain walls surrounded by a screen of heavy, ceramic blocks. In its half-century of heavy use, it had undergone multiple interior renovations in which open spaces were subdivided into smaller offices, glass walls blocked, and the deteriorating roof line braced. The building also needed to provide a front-door appearance to those visiting the campus, but before renovation the building presented an impenetrable, fortress-like appearance.
The challenges in renovating Dragas Hall included keeping a portion of the first floor intact and occupied while the second floor was demolished and the entire exterior skin replaced. The existing plaza was enclosed, making the new lobby twice its original size. Granite caps from planters that were outside the old Hughes Hall were re-used in the new plaza as caps for walls and in the exterior stair treads. The unique, existing terrazzo in the interior was matched and the ODU logo was added to the lobby floor.
The renovations provided enhancements to comply with ADA guidelines. The work replaced building systems, upgraded the elevator, restored the restrooms, reconfigured the second-floor interior spaces to accommodate academic program needs, added skylights on the second floor, and created a grand, light-filled entrance. Wood paneling and built-in wood seating added warmth.
The majority of the exterior changes reflect the University’s wish to have the building match the surrounding campus architecture. The existing plaza was enclosed, making the new lobby twice its original size. The ceramic-block screen and storefronts that encased the building were replaced with brick, cast stone, and a new curtain wall facade. Architecturally, the palette of materials is derived from the neighboring buildings. The brick matches the architectural vocabulary of the Kaufman Mall corridor of the campus.
Winner of a 2011 HRACRE (Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate) Design Award – Best Renovation
The Center for Children and Families will become the regional headquarters for ForKids, a local nonprofit working to end family homelessness. The building will replace expensive-to-maintain, turn-of-the-century buildings, expand service capacity, and improve access to public transit and regional highways. “Trauma-informed” design will create a calm and welcoming environment for families. Alongside accommodating the entire ForKids staff, the building will include all the facilities needed to help families stabilize and get back on their feet.
The Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center at Virginia Wesleyan University was always intended to improve the performing arts facilities of the university and provide a new front door to the campus. Core to the mission was a focus on the theater as an educational space that would prepare performers and technicians alike for future work in professional theater. Highlights include adjustable acoustics, counter-weight rigging system, and various shop spaces.
This $6.8 million project began in 2007 as a comprehensive preplanning study. Renovation to the 1915 building began in 2012 and included exterior repairs and complete interior renovations, including demolition and abatement of hazardous materials, configuration of spaces, preservation of historic material on the condemned 5th and 6th floors, structural repairs, and new and/or modified plumbing, mechanical, electrical, and fire-protection systems.
The 53,000 SF in spaces include dance studios; classrooms; computer lab; theatre (black box); offices, rehearsal spaces; wood shop; painting, printmaking, and sculpture studios; and a small library. Federal and state historic tax credits effectively reduced the final project cost by approximately 38 percent. Completed in 2014.
Winner, HRACRE (Hampton Roads Associate for Commercial Real Estate) Award, Best Renovation/Historic Rehabilitation, 2014.
The Sparks Science and Technology Center was an addition to the existing school and attaches to Cape Henry Collegiate in three locations. The steel-framed masonry, metal, and glass wing houses laboratories, prep rooms, flexible classrooms, and a multi-media, distant-learning auditorium.
The six-story 32,120-SF 1903 building was first constructed as a social club, later became a Salvation Army headquarters building, a USO building during World War II, and eventually office spaces with ground floor retail. Our project converted the spaces into 33 residential units and restored the “front porch,” the unique, defining element to the east facade. Winner of a 2017 HRACRE (Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate) Design Award for Best Renovation.
The Consolidated Arts Project includes the Barry Arts Building and the James A. Hixon Studio Arts Building and Annex. The Barry Arts Building is a new 3-story, 39,000-SF facility located in the University Village. The new building includes two libraries: The Jean Outland Chrysler Library (reflecting permanent collections of the Chrysler Museum of Art) and the Elise Hofheimer Art Library. The collection of more than 112,000 rare and unique volumes, more than 50,000 monographs, and other materials relating to the history of art is regarded as one of the most significant art libraries in the South. The Barry Arts Building is also home to a variety of art studio and learning spaces as well as multiple departments of administrative offices. The Hixon Studio Arts Building is a 2-story, 26,000 SF new arts facility located adjacent to Barry Arts and was completed in the spring of 2015.
The Barry Arts Building won an HRACRE Award of Merit for Best Institutional/Public Building in 2015.