Learning center at Fishburn Forest concept design : Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

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Virginia Tech. Community Design Assistance Center

The Fishburn property is a site of about 1,400 acres located about 6 miles west of the Virginia Tech Blacksburg campus. It was donated to Virginia Tech by Junius B. Fishburn, former president of the Southwest Virginia Trust Co. and former owner of the Roanoke Times. Approximately 1,350 acres is owned by Virginia Tech and the remaining 53 acres by the Virginia Tech Foundation. The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation (Dept of FREC) manages the property and uses it as a living lab for a variety of classes that require field work.

The Department of FREC would like to build a learning center that could serve a variety of uses including supporting the educational activities of the Department; renting the facility to other groups for meetings, conferences, weddings, and community functions; and opening the site more formally to the public. Two possible locations for the facility were selected by FREC representatives for consideration.

Preliminary programing elements for the building include a meeting hall for approximately 50 people, a kitchen, restrooms, offices, and a caretaker’s facility.

The Fishburn project began with an initial site visit to the property, guided by Dr. Mike Aust, Forestry Professor. During that visit, Dr. Aust shared some of the site’s past and more contemporary history with the CDAC design team. Two potential locations were identified for the learning center’s concept design. Qualities of each site were discussed with Dr. Aust as well as current uses by the College of Natural Resources and the university at large. The CDAC team photographed each site and conducted an inventory and analysis. Additional visits to the site were made to gather and confirm site analysis information.

After completing inventory and analysis for each site, the CDAC team prepared four preliminary design ideas for the learning center - two for each site. These design ideas were presented to faculty, staff, and administration in the College of Natural Resources and the Environment (CNRE). Additionally, a short survey was prepared. This survey along with 11x17 drawings of the design ideas were distributed to faculty for review and comment.

Based on comments received from faculty and staff as well as guidance from Dr. Janaki Alavapati, the CDAC team narrowed the design focus to what was termed “Site 2” and developed two conceptual design options for that site. Conceptual designs were presented to Joshua Galloway (Community Housing Partners) and Mark McConel (Summit Studio), architects on the CDAC Design Review Panel. Refinements were made based on their feedback. The designs were presented in November 2013 to the client group. Slight revisions were made based on comments from this presentation and one final conceptual design for the structure and caretaker’s residence and one final site master plan were prepared for the learning center.

This short supporting report was prepared to document the design process and describe the design concepts prepared by the Community Design Assistance Center.

Classroom learning centers -- Virginia -- Montgomery County -- Designs and plans., Community centers -- Virginia -- Montgomery County -- Designs and plans.