Hokie Stone, the signature limestone that defines Virginia Tech’s campus buildings, has long been a symbol of tradition, strength, and perseverance.

The demolition and renovation of Davidson Hall  provides a unique opportunity to bridge Virginia Tech’s past, present, and future symbolically with the reuse of Hokie Stone.

Davidson housed laboratories, classrooms, and offices for the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science. The $31.1 million, two-year renovation project will provide 45,000 square feet of state-of-the-art lab space and a new lecture hall that will seat 320 people. A second phase has been proposed for renovation of the front part of the building.

During initial demolition phases, contractor Barton Malow followed a specific removal process to minimize damage to the stone from the old building’s exterior walls in order to be able to reuse it to infill the transition to the new Davidson Hall. For chemistry alumni and long-standing employees who have fond memories of time spent in the old structure, that's a special gift.

“The chemistry department is leaping into the future with new state-of-the-art lab space, while holding on to a piece of our past as a reminder of our values and traditions,” said Jim Tanko, professor and chair of the department .

Approximately 110 tons of Hokie Stone has been saved for reuse which will allow Virginia Tech to meet LEED certification requirements. Some concrete and steel will be recycled and be used in the new structure.

Aesthetics is an additional factor for reusing the stone. “The stone color can vary depending on when and where it was mined at the quarry,” said David Dent, University Design and Construction associate director. "Weatherization and the natural color variances of Davidson Hall’s façade on the Drillfield would be a noticeable contrast if the new structure was comprised of all new stone. Integrating the original stone will help blend the old and new seamlessly.”

The new structure is scheduled for completion in fall 2013. The renovated building will include a lecture hall with the latest in instructional technologies and modern, energy efficient ventilation systems for its laboratory spaces. The architectural firm for the project is Einhorn Yafee Prescott, based in Washington, D.C.  The contractor is Barton Malow Company out of Charlottesville, Va.

“The renovation of Davidson Hall will have a major impact on the instructional and research operations of the chemistry department,” said Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science. “Students, faculty, and staff will reap the benefits of this transformation, which will provide functional, high-tech space for the department’s current and future needs.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Hilary West contributed to this story.