An interdisciplinary group of students from Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design has produced comprehensive design concepts for an multimodal transportation center for Roanoke, Va., featuring an AMTRAK passenger rail station. 

Two design concepts for each of two proposed sites in the city will be unveiled Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Roanoke Higher Education Center.

The designs were developed with the goal of creating a centralized hub of rail, city buses, long-distance buses, Smart Way Buses, taxis, automobiles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In addition to creating convenience by bringing these modes of transportation together in one place, the design concepts are focused on making the facility a unifying physical asset of the urban experience.

With the state Department of Transportation and AMTRAK already planning to extend passenger rail service into Roanoke in the coming years, Professor of Industrial Design Ronald Kemnitzer, who is directing the 10-week course, sees this project as a way to help people envision a multimodal facility for the city that would bring together more than just train service. 

“The goal of our team of students and faculty is to inspire the citizens of Roanoke to see the possibilities of how such a facility can positively affect the urban environment and make our city and region an even better place to live,” he said.

Four teams of students worked together for 10 weeks developing the concepts. The 19 participating students range from sophomore to master’s level, creating an opportunity not only for different disciplines to work together, but also different years. Faculty members representing different disciplines have also participated.

In addition to Kemnitzer, Scott Gartner, an associate professor of architecture; Donna Dunay, G.T. Ward Professor of Architecture of Architecture; and Wendy Jacobson, an associate professor of landscape architecture have contributed their expertise to the project.

Daniel Duminuco of Hauppauge, N.Y., a fourth-year industrial design major who is participating in the project, said, “Working with students and professors of different disciplines highlights the many lenses a single design problem can be viewed through in addition to generating drastically different solutions. It is exciting to watch as parts are taken from numerous ideas and combined in a way that maximizes each of their benefits in one coherent design problem solution.”

This exercise also benefits students by giving them firsthand experience in other disciplines, “I am engaged with aspects of our project outside of my major, which allows me to experiment in fields such as landscape architecture, which I previously did not have the chance to study,” Duminuco said.

Students from the disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture within the College of Architecture and one student from the College of Engineering make up the four teams: 

  • Jason Alagna of Ellicott City, Md., a junior majoring in landscape architecture;
  • Nicholas Ascosi of Kennett Square, Pa., a senior majoring in industrial design;
  • Megan Burton of Alexandria, Va., a senior majoring in interior design;
  • Christopher Crowley of Oyster Bay, N.Y., a senior majoring in industrial design;
  • Malcolm Dax of Annapolis, Md., a graduate student in architecture;
  • Daniel Duminuco of Hauppauge, N.Y., a senior majoring in industrial design;
  • Cutter Dunn of Hayes, Va., a senior majoring in architecture;
  • Elena Herrero of San Jose, Costa Rica, a senior majoring in landscape architecture;
  • Emily Inglis of Purcellville, Va., a senior majoring in landscape architecture;
  • Jill Jackson of Staunton, Va., a senior majoring in industrial design;
  • Holly Lassiter of Virginia Beach, Va., a senior majoring in interior design;
  • Kelsey Lizzio of Annapolis, Md., a senior majoring in interior design;
  • Katelyn McKenna of Chesapeake, Va., a senior majoring in landscape architecture;
  • Michelle Pannone of Readington, N.J., a sophomore majoring in architecture;
  • Michael Rollins of Austin, Texas, a master’s student in architecture;
  • Marthinus Veldsman of Roanoke, Va., a senior majoring in industrial design;
  • Nicolas Vidri of San Salvador, El Salvador, a senior majoring in civil engineering in the College of Engineering;
  • Malith Waharaka of Allendale, N.J., a senior majoring in industrial design; and
  • Shane Ziegler of Ambler, Pa., a senior majoring in industrial design.

Numerous advisors and sponsors, including RailPlan International, Marsh USA Global Rail Practice, Norfolk Southern, AMTRAK, VIRGINIA Department of Rail and Public Transportation, City of Roanoke Planning Department, and SFCS Architects have supported this project.