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Cowgill Hall wins Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects award


BLACKSBURG, Va., May 2, 2006 – Cowgill Hall, the main facility for Virginia Tech's School of Architecture + Design and the administrative offices of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, has been named the winner of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects Test of Time Award.

The Test of Time Award, created in 1981, is awarded annually to a building or group of buildings that has functioned in essentially the same manner as originally designed for at least 25 years.

Cowgill Hall was designed by Henry V. Shriver, a 1952 graduate of Virginia Tech, in the modern style. The four-story, 63,000-square-foot reinforced concrete building is cut into the top of a hill along the northwest edge of campus. The symmetric omni facial facade works with cantilevered two-way open-floor slabs on a 32-foot bay column grid.

The structure's six-foot-wide pre-cast wall panel and bronze aluminum window wall mullion spacing is a departure from the traditional campus architecture as is the moveable modular interior wall system. The first floor houses student shop and studio spaces surrounding two vertical circulation and plumbing/mechanical cores, allowing a high degree of spatial and building systems flexibility. The second floor connects to Cowgill Plaza by a bridge, which serves as the entrance to the lobby, administration offices, and college library overlooking the mountain vistas. The top floors contain open studio and office space. The building employs a dual duct, high velocity mechanical system.

Shriver and Holland Associates was founded in Norfolk, Va., in 1956 as a partnership between Henry V. Shriver and Ayler J. Holland Jr. The firm continues to grow and provides a full range of architectural and project coordination and management services. In 1999, the firm completed Burchard Hall, a 42,000-square-foot addition to Cowgill Hall. Matthew W. Shriver, a 1985 graduate of Virginia Tech, was the lead architect in the project.

Built of reinforced concrete, Burchard Hall is sited below grade, preserving an important open campus space, Cowgill Plaza, south of Cowgill Hall. Shriver and Holland Associates continues to seek public and private project assignments emphasizing changes that result in distinctive lasting and serviceable design.

Cowgill Hall is named for Clinton Harriman Cowgill (1897-1975), the founder of Virginia Tech's Department of Architectural Engineering, which developed into today's architecture program. Cowgill headed the program from 1928, when he established it and developed the initial curriculum, until 1956, guiding its growth from 34 students and two faculty members to 229 students and 13 faculty members. During his years at Virginia Tech, he wrote two books on architecture and building; played a significant role in planning for the physical development of the campus under three administrations; and served on the Virginia State Board for Examination and Certification of Professional Engineers, Architects and Landsurveyors. He earned his degree in architecture from the University of Illinois and was employed by the Department of Architectural Engineering at Iowa State College when Virginia Tech hired him in 1928.

Founded in 1914, the Virginia Society of the AIA is a professional organization representing more than 2,000 Virginia architects. The organization is dedicated to advancing the knowledge of the art and science of architecture among professionals and expanding the awareness and appreciation of architecture among the general public.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech is one of the largest colleges of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design and the School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 22 degrees programs taught by 160 faculty members. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.