Proposed Student Life Village would offer a new vision for campus life at Virginia Tech | VTX

It’s a whole new way to imagine student life on the Blacksburg campus a decade from now.

At its recent quarterly meeting, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors received a high profile presentation for a student life village project.

The university is currently developing a Student Life Village master plan that provides residential, wellness, recreation, dining and enrichment spaces for up to 5,000 students on campus. The plan will emphasize integrated, high-quality student life offerings as well as living learning programs, amenities, and public spaces to serve students on and off campus.

Potentially located on the northwest side of campus, the Student Life Village study area includes the incremental use of the land bank formed by Oak Lane special purpose housing and the golf course.

The Student Life Village project would complement Beyond Borders 2047: Campus Map which the board adopted in 2018. The campus master plan, which has gained national recognition, is a flexible, adaptable, and evolving document that will help realize Virginia Tech’s strategic vision and serve as a roadmap for the future.

“Student Life Village is a new take on campus life,” said Frank Shushok, vice president of student affairs. “We want to create better connectivity to academic, extracurricular and social activities on campus beyond a student’s first year. The Student Life Village concept would provide affordable and developmentally appropriate on-campus housing for upper division students. We also want to make the Student Life Village a place where off-campus students, faculty and staff feel welcome.

“It will be a distinct neighborhood with new opportunities to innovate in wellness, life-learning experiences, building technology and sustainability,” said Liza Morris, assistant vice president for planning and university architect. “The Village Master Plan intentionally leverages topography and place-making strategies to embody Hokie Spirit in a new context while embracing the values ​​and land-grant heritage of Virginia Tech. This gives us the ability to use forms and materials appropriate to the location.

It is designed both as a lively learning environment for the students residing there and as a destination for the rest of the university to visit. The Student Life Village would enhance the Virginia Tech student experience with spaces to live, study, eat, exercise, activity, and contemplate, including a proposed interfaith chapel and technology-free zone . Key to the concept is enrichment programming focused on a wide range of wellness practices.

“Envisaged as a new model of living and learning, welfare is embraced by the proposed spatial design of the village,” Shushok said. “The Student Life Village would provide the variety of spaces needed to practice holistic wellness with the flexibility to adapt to changing preferences.”

The project was approached intentionally, including land use planning to take advantage of natural resources; pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle traffic patterns; ecological buffer zones; Waste Management; durability over time; accessibility; Safety and Security; and indoor air quality.

The landscape setting of the Student Life Village would be sensitive to the ecology, topography and heritage trees that define the site. Wherever possible, existing trees will be incorporated into the open space with a network of accessible trails. The proposed Central Green of the village will be complemented by a series of quadrangles which collectively are envisioned to promote a sense of openness, while providing opportunities for engagement and interaction in the building.

The village landscape would reaffirm Virginia Tech’s identity as a land-grant university rooted in agricultural and rural heritage.

The Student Life Village would provide options for students in each school year to live on campus. It would balance space efficiency and affordability with privacy and age-appropriate living situations. In addition to enrichment spaces in residence halls, shared enrichment spaces in amenity buildings could be used for activities open to the entire Virginia Tech community. The plan includes flexible spaces that integrate the university’s educational, social and developmental missions into the residential environment.

The dining halls would be a mix of commercial franchises and unique service locations to provide students with a wide range of options. This builds on the success of the existing “destination concept” dining facilities at the Blacksburg campus.

The Transit Plaza at the “gateway” to the village is a prominent feature of the plan. The integration of the village into the existing public transport network would be essential to connect its residents to daily academic and student activities. It would also allow the village to be a destination for the entire campus community.

The proposed student life village will incorporate universal design principles where applicable.

Since the Student Life Village proposal would include significant capital investment, three phases are envisioned for the project, each to be fully functional before the next one begins. It would provide new, short-term housing that would allow existing housing to be renovated on an ongoing basis without affecting the overall housing supply on campus.

Further study and planning is required to determine construction costs and timelines for this proposed project. Flexibility is inherent in this approach to take advantage of economical materials, innovative construction techniques and unforeseen opportunities. Changing student preferences and higher education benchmarks and best practices will be taken into account as the project progresses through each phase.

Work on the Student Life Village project began last fall. Its development included working sessions with three Virginia Tech advisory groups comprised of interdisciplinary leaders from across the university. The Student Life Village charrette, a two-day event held in October, was a collaborative discussion around design alternatives for the project. It involved all of the Student Life Village advisory groups, the City of Blacksburg, and members of the Virginia Tech student, faculty, and staff communities. Student feedback forums were also held.

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