The new Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown is currently undergoing a second phase of renovations that will transform the former Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center into an innovative, fully integrated Graduate Life Center encompassing academic, social, residential, and administrative functions.

Phase II renovations include a complete refurbishment to the mezzanine level and second floor of the former Alumni Hall in order to house all Graduate School offices; new carpet and paint in the lobby areas, corridors, meeting rooms, and the graduate student lounge; and electrical updates for improved lighting throughout the building. Residential areas on the upper floors are also receiving improvements, including a kitchen and lounge for residents.

The Graduate Life Center will reopen August 14, 2006 with Welcome Week, which includes the Graduate Teaching Assistants Workshop, information fair, and new graduate student orientation. A formal grand opening celebration will be held in the fall.

When complete, the complex will include the administrative offices for the Graduate School, public meeting rooms, residential spaces for graduate students, and an Au Bon Pain coffee shop. The complex will provide services, space, and venues that meet the unique needs of graduate and professional students and serve as the hub of graduate student life.

“By housing all residential, academic, administrative, and social functions in one large complex, the Graduate School is able to extend its dedication to the students by building a graduate community that fosters relationships and brings focus to the graduate school experience, said Karen DePauw, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School. “The Graduate Life Center is an innovative complex, unlike any other in the nation.”

The Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown is a joint endeavor of the Graduate School and the Division of Student Affairs and provides a place for graduate students and faculty to interact, build social networks, and make connections. The residence rooms will house over 100 graduate students and are convenient to many of Virginia Tech’s dining and academic buildings, as well as downtown and the Blacksburg Transit and SmartWay bus stops. Additionally, the Graduate Life Center will offer a broad range of programs, events, and services such as meetings, discussion groups, workshops, and seminars.

Virginia Tech’s Department of Capital Design and Construction is overseeing the $2 million project, along with architect Bob Boynton, president of Boynton Rothschild Rowland Architects PC of Richmond, Va., and Contractor Swope Construction Co. of Bluefield, W.V.

“The challenge is to get such a large renovation project completed in such a short period of time,” said Vinod Ghoting, director of capital design and construction. “We have been fortunate to have had great cooperation from everybody involved – contractors, sub-contractors and architects.”

The Donaldson Brown renovation from conference center to graduate life center started in summer 2005 with Phase I renovations, completed by Contracts and Renovations Services, which included work to bring the hotel’s three floors of guest rooms and Alumni Hall’s two floors of guest rooms up to code for residence hall use. Improvements to doors, window blinds, data wiring, and electrical work were also made. Graduate living quarters in the Donaldson Brown complex were open for limited occupancy at the beginning of fall semester 2005.

The Graduate School at Virginia Tech promotes graduate education as a critical component in the transmission of new knowledge, research, ideas, and scholarship. It is responsible for the development, administration, and evaluation of graduate education throughout the university, providing support to faculty, staff, and more than 6,000 graduate students. The Graduate School is committed to building a diverse graduate community and vibrant intellectual environment to help prepare graduates to lead. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

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