Miscellaneous Campus Features
Alumni Gateway—Constructed 1912-1914; cost approximately $4,000. Gateway faced directly down Main Street. Presented to college by alumni in 1914. Removed 1936. Read a history of the gateway, with images of proposed designs. See Gateway Entrance below.
Alumni Gateway, New—See Gateway Entrance below.
Alumni Mall—Originally called the Mall. Lies on 0.74-mile stretch between Main Street and War Memorial. Four-lane street, divided by a wide grassy strip. Constructed fall 1950-spring 1951; cost $117,045. Name changed to Alumni Mall in 1996.
Amphitheatre (Garden Theatre)—A 1,500-capacity outdoor theatre; located southeast of Duck Pond; dedicated Aug. 24, 1935.
April 16 Memorial—Constructed in 2007 to honor the 32 lives lost in two campus shootings on April 16, 2007; dedicated Aug. 19, 2007; located at base of the reviewing stand on the Drillfield. Each victim represented by one Hokie Stone engraved with his or her name. Replaced an impromptu memorial placed on the site by students within days after the shooting—that memorial also included a Hokie Stone for each victim.
Biomarkers—First one installed in 1998; 59 completed by 2010. Brief biographical sketch of each person for whom a building is named, cast in bronze and placed on a Hokie Stone pedestal in front of building that bears that person’s name. A project of University Relations and landscape architect’s office; most biomarkers funded by gift from Class of 1953; five funded by Class of 1999.
Caldwell Statue—Sculpted by Larry Bechtel. Erected 2006. Represents first student to register. Gift of Class of 1956. Unveiled Oct. 20, 2006, behind Brodie Hall.
Cowgill Plaza—Situated between Cowgill Hall, Burruss Hall, Hancock Hall, and Johnston Student Center. Completed in 1969; approximately 30,000 sq. ft. Built of concrete, it originally contained four raised shrub/tree beds and was used by architecture and building construction students for various displays and competitions. Made handicap-accessible in 1987. Remodeled in 1996 to accommodate pyramidal skylights for new underground building, Burchard Hall, which was constructed directly beneath the plaza.
Drillfield—The original drill area in the 1870s lay in the area north of the First and Second Academic Buildings. Later the drill area was moved behind Lane Hall (Barracks No. 1). In 1894, President McBryde designated a small section of the horticulture farm as an athletic field and drill field. Initially, the area was called Sheib Field, named for Edward E. Sheib, professor of English and history who helped financially support the football team. Parts of the present Drillfield area have been known by the following names: Sheib Field (1894-1902); Gibboney Field (1902-09), named for James Haller Gibboney, first graduate manager of athletics; Miles Field (1909-26), named for Clarence Paul “Sally” Miles, baseball and football coach and director of athletics; Drillfield (fall of 1926-present). Stroubles Creek, which once ran open through the south portion of the Drillfield, was covered by a conduit in the summer of 1934. The first asphalt walks (two of them) were poured during the summer of 1971. In the spring of 1997 approximately 3,000 students, faculty members, and staff members formed the number 125 on the Drillfield in celebration of the university’s 125th anniversary, and the formation was photographed from an airplane. Following the shooting deaths of 32 students and faculty on April 16, 2007, the Drillfield became a gathering place for mourners and the site of a temporary and then a permanent memorial. In Nov. 2007, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other friends of the university formed the words “VT thanks you” on the field to thank the countless people who came to the university’s support after April 16, 2007. The words were photographed from a passing satellite and by a photographer in a helicopter.
Duck Pond—Construction started 1934 with funds supplied by Civil Works Administration ($18,821 for three projects). Named “Duck Pond” by students. Fed by Stroubles Creek and smaller lake, the Ice Pond, slightly above and to north. The two ponds serve as year-round homes principally to flocks of Canada geese and mallard ducks. See Ice Pond.
Foundry/Forge Shop—Constructed 1882; razed 1917.
Gateway Entrance—Completed 2005; accessed from Duck Pond Drive; gift of Class of 1952. Entrance to Holtzman Alumni Center. Symbolizes original Alumni Gateway (see above).
Graduate Life Center Plaza and Amphitheatre—Constructed early fall 2009 as part of Library Plaza (see below); cost $330,000. Includes fountain and raised area for outdoor performances. Sponsored by Class of 1959, Class of 2009, Parents Fund, and Graduate School. Ribbon cutting held October 2009.
Greenhouses—Nine greenhouses constructed over a period of time. (1) Construction year unknown; 21,933 sq. ft. Addition constructed 1959, 2,313 sq. ft.; Second addition constructed 1966, 5,523 sq. ft.; Third addition constructed 1988, 2,856 sq. ft. Total area: 21,933 sq. ft. (2) Constructed 1973; 1,953 sq. ft. (3) Constructed 1973; 1,953 sq. ft. (4) Constructed 1973; 1,953 sq. ft. (5) Constructed 1973; 1,707 sq. ft. (6) Constructed 1973; 1,833 sq. ft. (7) Constructed 1973; 1,978 sq. ft. (8) Constructed 1973; 1,632 sq. ft. (9) Constructed 1973; 1,632 sq. ft.
Horticulture Gardens—See Hahn, Peggy Lee Garden Pavilion and Horticulture Garden under Buildings.
Human/Animal Bond Bronze Statue—Sculpted by Gwen Reardon from concept by Terry Lawrence. Erected 2005; unveiled Sept. 9, 2005, at entrance to Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Major funding provided by Jane Talbot, wife of the late founding college dean Richard B. Talbot, and her family.
Ice Pond—Built winter 1880-81 to supply ice to college. Used in that capacity until 1898-99, when use of a refrigerating plant was inaugurated. Fed by a branch of Stroubles Creek. Lies slightly above and to north of Duck Pond and feeds the latter body of water. See Duck Pond.
Library Plaza—Completed 1983; approximately 43,000 sq. ft. Connects Newman Library, the University Bookstore, Squires Student Center, and Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown. One section includes Graduate Life Center Plaza and Amphitheatre (see above). From 1990s until 2009, included a sunken, pentagon-shaped amphitheatre with a fountain at one end and seating on the other four sides. Kiosk added in 1989; gift of Class of 1982; removed a few years later. The site of the plaza originally served as a street extension of College Avenue from Otey Street to Drillfield Drive.
Perry Street Parking Deck—Construction 2009-10. Parking for 1,200 vehicles; cost estimated at $30 million.
Ready to Serve Statue—Life-size bronze German shepherd police dog culpted by Larry Bechtel. Erected 2009. Dedicated Oct. 16, 2009. Located adjacent to main entrance to Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Funded through private donations. Project, which was spearheaded by Officer John Hoover, was a partnership between Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Police Work Dog Association, and U.S. Police Canine Association.
Reflecting Pool—Located between University Club and Faculty Center. Constructed 1934; removed 1965 for construction of Donaldson Brown Center. See Donaldson Brown under “Buildings.”
Regional Stormwater Management Facility at the College of Veterinary Medicine—Constructed 1997-98 to control stormwater runoff and to prevent the buildings that house the College of Veterinary Medicine from flooding.
Rock, The—See World War I Memorial.
Satellite Tracking Station—Constructed 1974; 430 sq. ft.; cost $174,447 (includes operation costs). Addition 1976; 416 sq. ft. Total area 846 sq. ft.
Seismograph Station—Completed fall 1962; cost $50,000. This 681-sq-ft. underground reinforced concrete structure was part of the Vela Uniform Program of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey that monitored the testing of nuclear weapons during the Cold-War era. The station was also part of the World-Wide Standardized Seismograph Network (WWSSN), which provided scientific data that led to the development of the theory of plate tectonics and revolutionized the earth sciences in the late 1960s. The Blacksburg station, known officially as BLA, is one of the few original WWSSN stations still recording ground motion and is famous for its continuous operation since Sept. 1963. The instruments comprising the station have changed over the years, from seismographs recorded on photographic paper that had to be developed by hand every day to modern instrument systems that monitor different components of the seismic wavefield and send data by satellite telemetry to researchers around the world. The station houses seismographs that monitor high-frequency motions from local and regional earthquakes and hosts a very high-precision Global Positioning System transceiver, which measures the long-term motion of the North American lithospheric plate. The station is an element of the U.S. Geological Surveys’ Advanced National Seismic System; is part of the NSF-sponsored Earthscope Plate Boundary Observatory; and is a key element of the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory, which monitors earthquakes in eastern North America. It is also one of NOAA’s baseline absolute gravity measurement stations. An original long-period seismometer is on display outside the Department of Geological Sciences Museum on the second floor of Derring Hall. The scheduled construction of roads near the station will destroy the site for purposes of future geophysical research.
Sochinski-McKee Marching Virginians Center—located on Southgate Drive within sight of Lane Stadium, features a 4,300-square-foot building offers space for percussion practice, restrooms, and storage space that includes shelving appropriate for the smaller instruments and places to hang the tubas; a connected 7,000-square-foot open-air pavilion that provides covered space for the full band to practice, rain or shine; a full-football-field-size synthetic turf field with lights, public address system, and an obervation tower. The center was a collaborative effort by the Department of Athletics, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and band alumni. Construction on the $4.75 million facility started in 2014, and it opened in fall 2015. On March 21, 2016, the Board of Visitors approved a resolution to name it the Sochinski-McKee Marching Virginians Center. The naming is to honor Dr. James Sochinski, Director of the Marching Virginians from 1976 to 1981, and Mr. David McKee, Director of the Marching Virginians from 1986 to that time (and he still holds that position in 2017). An initial resolution in June 2014 would have applied the name at the time when both Dr. Sochinski and Mr. McKee had been retired from the university for one full year. But a major donor requested that the naming be moved up to ensure that the honorees are able to realize and celebrate this honor during their lifetimes.
Virginia Tech CAVE®—Located at Waste Policy Institute at the Corporate Research Center Aug. 1997; operational Dec. 17, 1997; grand opening April 17, 1998; moved to Torgersen Hall Aug. 13, 2000; operational as originally proposed March 26, 2001. Invented at University of Illinois and a registered trademark of University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Designed to be a useful tool for scientific visualization. The Virginia Tech Cave® is a room-sized (10 x 10 x 9 ft.), high-resolution, 3D video and audio environment. Graphics are rear projected in stereo onto three walls and the floor and are viewed through stereo glasses. When the viewer moves within the display boundaries, a supercomputer updates the perspective and stereo projections of the environment, making the images move with and surround the viewer. To the viewer, the 3D image space appears to extend to infinity. This virtual environment serves as a bridge between research and education.
Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive Airport—In 1927 the Virginia General Assembly authorized 35 emergency landing fields in Virginia as part of the National Airways System authorized by Congress the previous year. One of those fields—a 1,800-ft.-long grass strip—was constructed in Blacksburg in 1929, with Virginia Tech supplying the site and funds for half of the construction and the state paying for the other half. Permission to operate the airport was granted on Aug. 5, 1931. In 1939 the national defense department located a Civilian Pilot Training Program at the airstrip, which spurred construction in 1940 of a maintenance hangar; completion in 1941 of a 2,850-ft.-long paved runway alongside the grass strip; and the completion in 1942 of a classroom, shop, and office spaces. Virginia Tech paid $15,000 toward these improvements, while the Works Progress Administration contributed $294,142. Flight training from 1940 to 1942 reached the levels of commercial pilot and navigator. Both the army and the navy used the facility for flight training. The National Youth Administration recruited high school graduates, who lived in barracks at the airport and received training in aircraft mechanics. Flight training by the defense department continued at the airport into the 1960s. In 1963 President T. Marshall Hahn emphasized the need for an airport that could serve technical and scientific industries he predicted would locate in Blacksburg, which would require the removal of the train tracks that served Blacksburg. The last train into town arrived on June 30, 1966, and work to remove the tracks commenced. Enlargement of the airport with a new runway graded for 6,000 ft. (4,600 ft. paved) to cross the old 2,850-ft. runway commenced in 1965 at a cost of $551,540; the Federal Aviation Agency supplied $275,770 of the cost. The runway was completed in 1966, lights were installed in 1967, an AM radio beacon was added in 1969, and a “T” hanger on the northwest side of the airport was added in 1970. In 1986 a taxiway was constructed parallel to the runway, with sequentially flashing lights added the following year and an automatic weather observation system added in the late 1980s. In 1991 the runway was extended 350 feet, along with a parallel taxiway. In 1995 the airport gained a 6,890-sq.ft. terminal, terminal apron, and parking lot. A parallel taxiway was added in 1999; cost $3,128,500. In 2002 airport management was transferred to an airport authority representing Virginia Tech, Montgomery County, and the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, and the airport’s name was changed to Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive Airport. In 2008 plans were under way to add 14,000 sq. ft. to the runway. Today the facility encompasses 248 acres of land.
Water Tower (Tank)—Erected in 1896 as part of campus water system designed by Professors William F. Patton and Lingan S. Randolph; 110 ft. high; held 50,000 gallons of water. Disassembled 1957.
West Campus Signature Gateway—Constructed 2008; cost $325,000; located at West Campus Drive entrance to campus off Prices Fork Road; gift of Class of 1958. Dedicated Oct. 3, 2008.
Wind Tunnels—The university started acquiring wind tunnels in 1958. The various wind tunnels include the following: (1) Stability wind tunnel, originally built at NASA Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1940; acquired 1958; erected 1959-61. (2) Open-jet wind tunnel; constructed by Virginia Tech faculty. (3) Boundary layer wind tunnel, acquired or built around 1978. (4) Subsonic wind tunnel. (5) Low-speed compressor cascade wind tunnel. (6) Transonic cascade wind tunnel. (7) Supersonic wind tunnel; installed 1963. The trio of hypersonic, subsonic, and supersonic wind tunnels at one time created the most comprehensive combination of wind tunnel testing facilities on any campus in the U.S.
World War I Monument—During commencement ceremonies in 1919, Virginia Tech unveiled a monument erected by the class of 1919 “in memory of the alumni of Virginia Polytechnic Institute who gave their lives in France—1917-18.” The monument, known popularly as “The Rock,” was unveiled in a simple ceremony by Charlotte Matthews Moore, widow of Lt. Arthur Blakie “Rusty” Moore, one of the 11 dead being honored. Beginning with the unveiling ceremony and throughout the years since the unveiling, all cadets salute the monument as they pass it. It has also been the site of Memorial Day ceremonies.