By Brian Laubscher
A new Williams School facility and renovations to University Chapel and Sydney Lewis Hall among several projects on the horizon.
Washington and Lee University’s master plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in October 2021, establishes a holistic vision for the future of the physical campus based on institutional priorities outlined in the university’s 2018 Strategic Plan.
The university’s latest upgrade to campus space began with the launch of dining venue renovations in the John W. Elrod Commons on Feb. 18. The following overview identifies several other construction projects that are set to begin on campus over the next 12 months.
New Williams School Building
The new Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics building will be constructed on West Washington Street on the site currently occupied by Baker Hall and Davis Hall. The new state-of-the-art building will be 44,500 gross square feet and feature 10 classrooms, 46 faculty offices, and a variety of collaboration spaces, as well as an outdoor classroom area. Construction is expected to begin in June 2023 and be completed in time for Fall Term 2025.
Renovations to University Chapel, which were announced by the Board of Trustees in June 2021, are set to begin in June 2023. W&L engaged the architectural firm Quinn Evans to assist with the renovation and consulted with federal and state agencies to ensure the proposed modifications will not affect the chapel’s national historic landmark status.
The approved plan for the renovation will include the installation of a freestanding wall in the anteroom located between the original 1868 chapel and the 1883 annex containing the Lee memorial sculpture and family crypt. The freestanding wall provides a visible barrier between the chapel and the sculpture chamber, while allowing for freedom of movement between the two spaces. All parts of the building will remain accessible to the public.
The portraits, plaques and artifacts once housed in the chapel will be moved to new exhibits in the Chapel Galleries and the future Museum of Institutional History. The chapel is currently open and will host events until late May, and will reopen for First-Year orientation activities in August 2023.
W&L Turf Field Replacement
The W&L Turf Field is home to the varsity field hockey program and provides field space for intramurals, club sports and recreational activities. The current synthetic turf surface was installed in 2011 and has reached the end of its useful life. The stadium, which will serve as the host facility for the 2024 NCAA Division III Field Hockey National Championship, will receive a new AstroTurf® playing surface. Installation of this new turf will begin in April 2023 and is expected to be completed by August 2023.
New Roof for Sydney Lewis Hall
Sydney Lewis Hall, home to the Washington and Lee School of Law, will receive several updates following Law Commencement this May. The primary focus of the project will involve replacing the building’s roof and making remedial repairs to the brick parapet walls. The work is expected to begin in late May and take six to eight months to complete.
Dining Venue Renovation – John W. Elrod Commons
The first phase of dining venue renovations to the Marketplace and Café 77 are underway and expected to be completed by August 2023. The second phase of the project begins in June 2023 and involves expansion of, and updates to, the indoor and outdoor seating areas, creating an additional 150 seats within the Marketplace and roughly 100 more seats in two outdoor dining areas.
During the second phase of work, the back dining area of the Marketplace will be extended into the Cohen Family Amphitheater. The roof of this structural addition will also extend the patio space that is immediately accessible from the Café 77 area of Elrod Commons. The small patio area located directly outside the Marketplace will also be refurbished, and seating will expand to accommodate an additional 40-50 guests. This work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2024.
Lindley Center for Student Wellness
A second new building is slated to be constructed on campus, this one to serve as the new home for the Student Health Center and University Counseling services. The proposed Lindley Center for Student Wellness will remember and celebrate the life of Dr. Lindley Spaht Dodson, a pediatrician and member of the W&L Class of 1999, who passed away in 2021.
The Lindley Center will be constructed on East Denny Circle in the wooded area located between the lower tennis courts and the steps that lead from the Woods Creek Apartments to Sydney Lewis Hall. Design work on the new wellness center is underway, and construction is tentatively slated to begin in January 2024.
Each of these construction projects will have an impact on the campus environment, particularly the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic in certain areas. The university will provide more information to the campus community in the coming months related to each project and their anticipated impacts.