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Dragas Hall renovation scheduled for spring 2011 completion

Renovation of the oldest remaining building in the center of campus, Dragas Hall, is well under way, and it is anticipated that the $6.8 million general obligation bond project will be completed by spring break of next year.

Constructed in 1958, the two-story building initially housed the library and faculty offices and went by the name Hughes Library, and later Hughes Hall for many years. It was home for a while to the business college, and the Office of Computing and Communications Services occupied the first floor for a number of years. Most recently, the first floor was occupied by the academic side of the Department of Computer Science and the English Language Center, while the second floor housed the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and served as a "swing space" for staff and offices that were temporarily relocated while renovations were taking place in other campus buildings.

The building, which also was the temporary home of the Office of International Programs after the Dragas International Center was razed to make way for the Ainslie Football Complex and parking garage, will welcome back that office, which includes the study abroad office and English Language Center, as well as the academic side of the computer science department. The following offices will also move in: International Student and Scholar Services, International Admissions and the Philippine American Cultural Center. Space has also reserved for classrooms and math computer labs.

Situated near the corner of Hampton Boulevard and 49th Street, the main entrance to the campus, it's important that the renovated Dragas Hall have appropriate front-door appeal to those visiting the campus, said Bob Fenning, vice president for administration and finance. The building's old concrete honeycomb exterior will be replaced with standard ODU brick to match "the architectural vocabulary" of the Kaufman Mall corridor, he added.

The building's granite floor foyer, one of its unique features, will be preserved and surrounded by a dramatic curved glass exterior.

S.B. Ballard Construction Co. was awarded the construction contract. The building is also scheduled to get $1.2 million in academic support equipment.

Fenning noted that Dragas Hall will ultimately be connected to what is currently the Visual Arts Building (VAB) by a two-level glassed-in walkway and lounge addition. This building is also scheduled for a renovation, which is expected to be completed in 2013. The art department staff and offices, which are now housed there, will move into a new facility, yet to be built, in the University Village, and the renovated VAB will be used for academic purposes, Fenning said. ODU's space committee is currently considering who will occupy the building.

This article was posted on: March 19, 2010

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