Virginia Tech’s Opening Gambit for the NoVa Tech Scene by SmithGroup is a Window to the Future

Person talking on mobile phone in a colorful hallway at SmithGroup’s Start-Up Space for Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Innovation Campus
SmithGroup’s Start-Up Space for Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Innovation Campus offers the school an administrative presence in a rapidly changing tech scene (not to mention a place to manage the broader four-acre campus project). © Judy Davis

The word innovation isn’t just a rejoinder to the debate in education about value these days. It seems to also suggest a new typology of flexible and adaptive spaces. Virginia Tech is currently developing a four-acre Northern Virginia Innovation Campus in Alexandria, which will open in 2024 with a 300,000 square-foot Innovation Center Academic Building (ICAB) designed by SmithGroup. Its principal-in-charge, David Johnson, AIA, says that the emerging typology is less about form and more about accommodating the changing needs of an array of user groups. “The intellectual framework for the innovation center is about accelerating ideation and discovery by bringing together competing and interdisciplinary interests,” says Johnson, “but to be more precise, most, if not all, of our design goals were related to human centered design.”

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Through a Prism, Brightly: Baskervill’s Glass Light Hotel & Gallery

pink glass rabbit in a hotel lobby
Clients Doug and Pat Perry commissioned Peter Bremers to create leporine versions of themselves, whose parts were made in the Czech Republic and glued together in situ. Image courtesy of Baskervill.

Hotel lobby art — when it’s bad, it can be good (in that bad sort of way). But, when it’s great, it’s transcendent, which should be a goal of any hotel. The Glass Light Hotel and Gallery in Norfolk falls into the latter category, so named for the collection of Doug and Pat Perry, local arts patrons who purchased a 1912 office building that Baskervill transformed into a glass menagerie, now operated by Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

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Shannon Wray: Creating the Perfect Workplace Hybrid

Designer Shannon Wray in foreground with bookshelves in the background
Shannon Wray led the design of the custom workstations at Fairfield Library that adapt the carrel type for working parents and caregivers. The project won a 2020 IIDA/ASID IDEA Interior Design Excellence Award.

Opened in 2019, Quinn Evans’ Fairfield Library project featured a custom workstation that updates the classic library carrel to incorporate self-directed learning for children and peace of mind for caregivers. In this interview, Shannon Wray, a senior interior designer at Quinn Evans, talks about the discovery process and the iterations that led to a 2020 IIDA/ASID IDEA Interior Design Excellence Award for the hybrid workstation and play space. “It creates privacy and it also fosters community and conviviality,” she says, “but to get there, we had a bunch of little ‘ah-ha’ moments that lead to the final design.”

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The Essex: Via’s Home

A case study by Jacqueline Childress, Associate IIDA, LEED® Green Associate, Andrew McKinley, AIA, LEED AP®, and Haley Morgan

Historic Photo of the Essex Building at theCorner of Bank and Plume Corner of Bank + Plume at Dusk
The Essex. Image courtesy of Via.

Architecture is a design process focused on creating spaces for people. The building itself, formed of solid materials like steel and masonry, forms a shelter for people to occupy. But the interiors are what connect to human emotions, create a sense of place, and establish the identity for the building’s functions.

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Less is More at VA Beach Parks and Rec

Recreation centers used to be highly programmed places. Pools, gyms, basketball courts, tennis courts, handball courts, playgrounds, ball fields, changing rooms, and offices—all defined spaces for specific activities. More meant more. The good ones were regularly maintained and  became community hubs. The not-so-good ones were easy to spot because of their shabbiness, usually because of the cost of maintaining “more.”

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Hanbury Helps Higher Ed Clients Plan for Resilience

The call to climate action has been sonorous to say the least, but sometimes doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the client ideation process as it should. Norfolk-based Hanbury created a digital series called “Resilience in Practice” this year on connecting values with action. What began as a multi-month Hanbury study about campus planning became a frank Zoom dialogue between the firm and its higher education clients about the different physical scales of resilience, space design, and focusing on the end user’s quality of life.

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Virginia Creates Strategy for Coastal Resilience

When Hurricane Ida ravaged Louisiana’s coastline last month on the 16th anniversary of Katrina’s carnage, everyone wondered if the region’s levies and infrastructure improvements would make a difference. While the storm surges were managed better this time around, the economic damage for households and businesses will still have a deleterious effect on an already challenging situation for tens of thousands of Louisianans.

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