Richard Bland College of William & Mary, Ernst Hall Renovation

Petersburg, Virginia

  • FIRM

    RRMM Architects


    Richard Bland College of William & Mary

  • AREA

    33,373 sq.ft.





Design team
RRMM Architects (Architecture, Interior Design, Cost Estimating); Thompson Consulting Engineers (MEP Engineering); NRW Engineers (Structural Engineering); VHB (Civil Engineering, Landscape Architecture); Sextant (AV Design)

Constructed in 1967 and unused since 2010, Ernst Hall was an academic building that housed classrooms, science labs ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$182.00FEATURED IN2016 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation offices. During an initial conditions assessment, the RRMM project team had to address remaining science lab configurations and infrastructure, including mercury glass piping and hazardous material abatement. Other complications included building and roof envelope concerns along with new IT/technology requirements.
The focus of the renovation was to provide flexible student learning spaces—classrooms, seminar spaces, faculty and administration offices, and student lounge and study spaces. A 200-seat lecture hall—the only auditorium on campus—was renovated and expanded into a multistory space to support larger classes and special events.
The redesigned academic spaces evolved as a result of an intensive programming exercise conducted with faculty, staff and the RRMM team. The innovative teaching philosophies proposed by college leadership led to a design that integrates technology into flexible learning spaces that promote more interaction between students and faculty. To address the large number of commuter students, the design paid special attention to establishing integrated student lounge and study spaces. This project was also IgCC-certified (International Green Construction Code) by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
This project had an aggressive timeline imposed by the college funding. Working closely with the college, architects designed a demolition package that was bid separately while the new construction design was still in review by the Bureau of Capital Outlay Management.
Because the demolition was completed by the time the new work was bid, all bidders could tour the interior, which had been stripped to expose all existing systems, particularly structural members. This resulted in very tight bids and minimal non-owner change orders.
Rather than revamp the existing, undersized elevator, the College built a new elevator on the exterior, which made it easier to meet codes and added a much needed exterior entry feature.