VMI Construction May Impact Your Visit to Lexington
Construction projects continue through 2023 and may impact traffic and parking on the post of Virginia Military Institute as well as downtown Lexington.
Ongoing projects include:
Superintendent’s Quarters— A renovation of the Superintendent’s Quarters, the most far-reaching in over 25 years, began over the summer, with the intent of upgrading the historic home’s electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems, plus painting and other home maintenance tasks.
The Superintendent’s Quarters is also being made accessible for those with mobility challenges. A ramp is being built from the sidewalk to the side door closest to the commandant’s office, and a first-floor bathroom is being renovated to comply with current accessibility requirements.
Because the Superintendent’s Quarters is one of the oldest buildings on post, and is both listed as a National Register property and as a National Historic Landmark, its renovation has been undertaken in consultation with architectural historians at the state Department of Historic Resources. Work is scheduled for completion in the early summer of 2022.
Gray-Minor Baseball Field— The field is undergoing a renovation from May - October 2023 (projected). The project includes new artificial turf for the entire field, a new field drainage system, an underground storm-water management system, field grading, and dugout expansion. During the project, a portion of the Paulette Hall parking lot will close to VMI traffic.
Gray-Minor Stadium, named after Senator Elmon T. Gray '46 and Gil Minor '63, became the home of the VMI Baseball program at the opening of the 2007 season. It is is located on the site of the former home of VMI Baseball, Patchin Field, which became the new Keydet diamond on April 5, 1988, with Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio on hand to usher in a new era for VMI baseball.
Completed Construction Projects:
Aquatic Center—The ribbon cutting and dedication of the Corps Physical Training Facility Phase III - the Aquatic Center - took place Jan. 27. Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent, expressed gratitude to all those who took part of the construction of the facility, given the constraints of the site, and the overall pace. He thanked the commonwealth of Virginia for the majority of the funding, as well as their continual acknowledgement of the value of a VMI education, and the impact VMI has on the local economy. He extended his sincere thanks to the long standing philanthropic support of many members of the alumni.
Construction on the $44 million facility began December 2020, and it contains an indoor 50-meter swimming pool which holds 800,000 gallons of water. It has two 1-meter springboards, two 3-meter springboards, and a 5-meter dive platform, plus seating for 570 spectators. The pool is large enough to be divided into three sections, making diving, water polo, and competitive swimming possible simultaneously. NCAA teams will be able to use it for practice and competition, and ROTC and the Department of Human Performance and Wellness will use it for training, as VMI requires all students to take one semester of swimming. Cadet clubs, like the scuba club, will also find it valuable. High water entry exercises, which had been done in the Maury River, can now be conducted indoors. The pool is a “smart pool” in that the chemical balance and temperature are all regulated by a computer. Various sensors are located throughout the system in the inner workings of the pool, and as water flows past the sensors, messages are transmitted to the computer. If the pH or temperature needs correcting, it is done by the computer.
Approximately three-quarters of the total cost of the facility was included in the biennial budget, and that funding remained in the budget as it passed through both houses of the General Assembly. The remainder of the overall cost of the project came from private donations. The completion of the Aquatic Center brings an end to the phased approach for athletic facility renovations and additions that began in 2014, which included renovations to Cormack and Cocke Halls and the building of the Corps Physical Training Facility, which opened in the fall of 2016. Each building provides significant and enhanced indoor fitness training elements for cadets, as well as home to the Institute’s NCAA track and wrestling teams. The buildings also offer a venue for ROTC and individual cadet physical training in inclement weather. Altogether, the three phases of the Corps Physical Training Facility cost $164 million.
The Knights of Pythias building, also known as the American Legion building, a structure with historic ties to Lexington’s African-American community, has been renovated and is connected to the Aquatic Center via a glass walkway. The main level is used as coaches’ offices and a conference room, the upper level is used for classrooms.
Scott Shipp Hall – The Scott Shipp Hall ribbon cutting on Saturday, Jan. 29, in collaboration with the Board of Visitors meetings, celebrated a five-year planning, design, and construction effort totaling $43 million. The project included a 28,000-square foot expansion and a complete renovation of the previously-existing 68,000-square foot space. Progress could be seen from just about every area of post over the years, including from the home-team seats in Foster Stadium. A beloved giant crane in place from fall 2019 until summer 2020 across from Crozet Hall practically became a part of the Corps through frequent social media posts from cadets.
The wrap-up of the most recent expansion and renovations of Scott Shipp Hall came at a time when materials were hard to come by or delayed due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Ironically, when the groundbreaking of the facility happened in the summer of 1918, material shortages were a problem for the workers then, as well, due to the impacts of World War I.
In addition to being the home to multiple departments’ classrooms and offices, including history, economics, international studies, English, rhetoric and humanistic studies, the building has a photography lab, an art studio, a 70-seat auditorium, and courtyards for outdoor study. In addition, it now holds a 3,600-square foot space for the John Adams ’71 Center for Military History and Strategic Analysis.
Chessie Nature Trail Bridge – A long-awaited project for the community has been completed. A pedestrian bridge carrying the Virginia Military Institute-owned Chessie Nature Trail over the South River opening on December 10, 2021.
The new 210-foot structure, which can withstand winds up to 140 mph, replaces the original railroad bridge that was taken out by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The $2.1 million project was possible because of the generous support of local partners including the City of Buena Vista, City of Lexington, Rockbridge County, and partners from the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Access Program. A new parking area, landscaping, and benches were also unveiled.
Plaza In Front of Marshall Arch – In the summer of 2021, a new project was completed that provides enhanced accessibility to the Parade Ground, honors the sacrifice of Allied soldiers in World War II, and recognizes the international contributions of Gen. George C. Marshall, VMI Class of 1901. The project, which was completed with the help of architectural and engineering firm Wiley|Wilson and staff from Physical Plant, relocated the visual focus of the Parade Ground to New Barracks.
New flagpoles, each 80 feet tall, were placed on either side of the statue of Marshall, and a 21-panel granite hardscape was built in front of the statue. Flanking the statue are two sets of stairs and two ramps, providing access to the Parade Ground for people who use mobility devices. The entire project was designed with Marshall and his contributions, particularly those during World War II, in mind. While Marshall served in multiple roles after the war, among them secretary of state, secretary of defense, and architect of the European Recovery Program, commonly known as the Marshall Plan, he was instrumental as Army chief of staff throughout World War II as he led the largest military expansion in U.S. history.
More information is available in the September 2021 Institute Report.
Cadet Parking Lot – A parking lot for cadet cars at Lackey Park, off Greenhouse Road in the vicinity of Rockbridge County High School, was completed this summer. The new, $3.5 million lot, with space for approximately 340 cars, includes safety features such as security lighting and a fence. As in years past, one cadet from each 1st Class room is allowed to park on post, with the others required to keep their vehicles at Lackey Park. Plans call for all cadet cars to be kept at Lackey Park during the 2022-23 academic year.
Anderson Drive – Construction of a new, two-lane bridge over Woods Creek on Anderson Drive was finished just before matriculation in August 2020. The road now curves more gently as motorists exit main post and head toward Jordan’s Point. Turning off the previous, one-lane bridge required a 90-degree turn, but the new bridge has an easier turn to navigate. The project also added a sidewalk leading from the Marshall Hall parking lot to Gray-Minor Stadium.
Preston Library - Near the end of August, an event central to VMI’s educational mission quietly took place: the reopening of Preston Library to the VMI community after a $19.3 million renovation – the library’s first in nearly 25 years. Prior to the renovation, the library entrance, the fifth floor, was somewhat dark and involved two sets of doors. Now, visitors walk through one door into a brighter, wider vestibule and can see the service desk just to the right of the elevator straight ahead.
Likewise, the seventh floor of the library, once inaccessible by elevator, is now accessible. That floor, formerly home to the Mathematics Education and Resource Center (MERC), is now the site of a conference room boasting what could be the best view on post of the Parade Ground—and House Mountain as a bonus in the background.
The sixth floor provides space for academic support services—the MERC, the VMI Center for Undergraduate Research (VCUR), and the Office of Sponsored Programs, which supports faculty research. It is also home to a large study space for cadets and rows upon rows of books.
One floor below on the main floor of the library, where library patrons and visitors enter off Letcher Avenue, is the Turman Room, redone with conference room-style seating. With the need for social distancing, and classroom space in short supply, the Turman Room was used as a classroom. In addition, the newly renovated learning commons features a bank of computers for cadet use, and offices for reference librarians close by.
VMI Police Headquarters – The $5.6 million project to create a new home for the VMI Police, with nearly 11,000 square feet of space was completed in the Fall of 2020. The building itself has been built to withstand the 180-mile-per-hour winds of a Category 4 hurricane. Inside, there is bulletproof glass between staff and visitors, along with dedicated rooms for processing evidence and fingerprints. Upstairs, an emergency operations center (EOC) with a smart whiteboard and televisions for news broadcasts will be able to accommodate eight people working in it at once.