Old Dominion University is unveiling a sweeping redesign of its campus that envisions dozens of new buildings – academic, athletic and residential – over the next 20 years.
The conceptual plan does not call for expanding the campus beyond its current boundaries, instead gaining capacity by building taller structures – up to six stories. Much of the new construction would occur in the University Village area east of Hampton Boulevard, where ODU previously acquired land for expansion.
But in a notable exception, the university has abandoned its controversial yearslong effort to acquire three holdout parcels in that area, yielding to a ruling by the state Supreme Court last week that one of the properties had been improperly condemned by a city agency working on behalf of ODU. The three parcels are occupied by an apartment building and two businesses, Central Radio and Norva Plastics.
David Harnage, ODU’s chief operating officer, said Friday the university will work around those properties as it fills in the University Village.
“The master plan has been adjusted to reflect the court’s decision,” Harnage said. “We’re not here to create trauma for people.”
Harnage presented the campus master plan to the ODU faculty Friday, the first in a series of meetings he will hold over six weeks with a variety of audiences, on and off campus. The plan is a working document that has not yet been approved by the university’s governing Board of Visitors.
The university’s last master plan was adopted in 1995. The new plan does not include dollar figures, and officials have not yet specified how it will be funded.
To accommodate the construction, the plan calls for demolishing several existing buildings, most notably Webb Student Center, and the venerable 77-year-old football stadium, Foreman Field.
Also facing the wrecking ball are three dormitory complexes – Powhatan Apartments, Gresham Hall and Rogers Hall – as well as Koch Hall (the main administration building), the chemistry building and planetarium, and the alumni center. The Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building will undergo a major renovation.
Dormitories would be built on both sides of Hampton Boulevard, increasing ODU’s on-campus housing capacity by nearly 50 percent, from 5,000 to 7,200 beds. That’s in addition to The District, a privately operated residential complex adjacent to the campus.
One complex of dormitories will stand on the site of Foreman Field, with the playing field preserved as recreational space for students. A football stadium with 28,000 to 30,000 seats will be built on the site of Powhatan Apartments.
Among other proposed structures are a student center, a standalone dining hall, a complex of science and engineering buildings, a performing arts center, and additional research buildings. A riverfront conference center is planned west of the new stadium.
Also planned: several parking garages that will accommodate 3,600 vehicles.
The bookstore in the University Village will be revamped as a recreation center and food service building. The new student center, to be built on the site of Webb Center, will include a bookstore and supplementary dining facilities. Adjacent to it will be an enrollment services and student success center.
An existing east-west walkway traversing the campus will become a “multi-modal transportation corridor” that will accommodate pedestrians, bicycles and a ground-level tram system. One purpose of the trams would be to ferry football fans from parking garages on the eastern end of the campus to the stadium.
The hope, Harnage said, is that Norfolk’s light-rail system will one day be extended to the ODU campus. If that happens, the university would create a transfer depot connecting light rail to the campus transportation system.
The elevated maglev (magnetic levitation) track over the central walkway – built years ago for an experimental urban travel project – will be retained for research purposes, Harnage said.
The plan also calls for two overhead pedestrian walkways crossing Hampton Boulevard.
ODU’s auxiliary campus in Virginia Beach is slated for a 200,000-square-foot expansion under the plan.
Harnage said the plan does not envision major growth of ODU’s student body, which stands at about 25,000. The university’s enrollment plan calls for annual growth of about 1 percent.
Bill Sizemore, 757-446-2276, email@example.com