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  • Nidhi Chopdekar (Graduate)

All About Holden Hall: “Holden Hall 2.0 is all set to reopen this spring”

Exterior of Holden Hall.
Holden Hall shines bright on a sunny morning. Photo / Nidhi Chopdekar

Holden Hall is an academic facility that houses the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and the Department of Mining and Mineral Engineering, in addition

to the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research. The building was originally built in 1940 and has now been renovated in 2022. Holden Hall 2.0 will contribute to Virginia

Tech’s academic mission of becoming a top global university. The most exciting part about the renovation is that it brings all the faculty members, students and laboratories

together, which were formerly spread out.


The construction of the former building was completed in 1940, and it was known as the Mineral Industries Building, until 1949, when it was renamed as Holden Hall. Holden

Hall is named after the notable geologist, Roy Jay Holden, who was also the head of the Geology Department of Virginia Tech for 38 years. He was well known for siting

the first gas well at Virginia Tech and locating water wells when a shortage threatened the university, but it was in the classroom that he built his true legacy. He was a great

instructor who stimulated a lifetime scientific interest in his students. Due to maintenance issues, Virginia Tech announced that the 80-year-old building would undergo extensive renovations and started the renovation in the beginning of the academic year 2019-2020.

Construction Background:

The original building was spread over 42,100 Gross-Square-Foot (GSF). In addition to a tiny basement, the structure had a three-story south wing with a total area of approximately 20,166 GSF and single- story east and north wings with a total area of

approximately 21,648 GSF. The renovation project expanded the building’s three-story south wing, demolished the single-story east and north wings and replaced the north wing with a new four-story wing, in addition to the replacement of the east wing with

a new three-story wing. Each of these replacements matched the footprint of the original single-story wings. The replacement wings sum up to a total of 86,600 GSF. The overall building totals 102,000 GSF of new and renovated space. The construction can

be tracked live on the Virginia Tech website, along with the time-lapse video and photo galleries at Ultimately, the project was made possible through the support of the state and commercial


Renovated Space:

Holden Hall has nearly tripled in size, transforming the old building into a centerpiece of research and learning for the Department of Mining & Minerals Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. The revamped building reinforces academic, research and transdisciplinary learning offerings for these two departments. Furthermore, the upgrade enhances experimental learning and boosts the recruiting opportunities for students of the department. The renovation will enormously benefit the research conducted by the two departments. Inside the newly developed wings are new labs and computational spaces, as well as classrooms equipped with cutting-edge

technology, such as A/V capabilities, transmission electron microscopes for observing natural resources, and internet connections for collaborating with other projects

around the world. Students will be able to learn from resources given by quarries, as well as autonomous devices made by electrical and mechanical engineering students,

by immersing in an artificial mining environment. In addition, students will be able to evaluate samples at the atomic level, utilizing the most advanced technologies.

Exterior of Holden Hall.
Renovated Holden Hall. Photo / Nidhi Chopdekar


New laboratories built as part of the renovations will revolutionize the development of materials, utilizing cutting-edge technology. Larger equipment was added in the laboratories that were missing in the previous ones, which was a limiting factor for research. Three new 50 seat classrooms will promote academic programming,

while new computing spaces will encourage transdisciplinary cooperation. Its spacious laboratories and collaborative spaces will enhance team learning. Holden Hall’s two-story space will allow students to work closely with natural materials. Mining Engineering students can work on autonomous mining in the glasses-in area of the

two-story mine. The Center for Autonomous Mining and Robotics, will now be called the Mock Mine. One of its important features is the three scaled pits that can be filled with any kind of mined materials, making it very customizable. This mine is available

to students on campus, which makes it a part of the student’s day to day academic life, allowing them to experience hands-on learning. The fourth floor of the building has a computational space with well equipped novel technologies. The labs can be used

for a variety of discovery opportunities where students can build 3D ore body models. The renovated space will benefit all the students of Virginia Tech. The active learning spaces in the building are open to the entire campus community, which will help in

pioneering new teaching strategies. General assignment classrooms will help students across the university, and multiple disciplinary research will allow faculty from other departments to partner with the departments in Holden Hall in order to conduct research. The modern up-to-date facility will help attract talented students and faculty now and in the near future.

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