Colleges and universities across the country do more than educate the students enrolled in their degree programs — they create connections between people from different backgrounds and cultural experiences, providing vast opportunities for personal growth. Through these connections, our institutions generate profound impact on the communities around them, both economically and culturally.

Virginia State University, with its proud and storied history, has realized a dream 20 years in the making with the completion of their new, $84-million Multipurpose Center. This facility changes the landscape of their campus and delivers economic and cultural promise to the village of Ettrick, the greater community of Petersburg, and the state of Virginia.

As the largest capital project ever awarded to an HBCU, the Multipurpose Center presents significant academic, athletic, cultural, and entertainment opportunities to the University and its surrounding communities. A product of the deeply collaborative partnership among the school, the community, and the project team of Clark Nexsen, AECOM, and S.B. Ballard, the facility is described as “transformative to the University community” by Jane Harris, AVP of Facilities and Capital Outlay at VSU. The venue has a seating capacity of 5,100 to 6,100 and boasts more than 167,000 SF, making it ideally suited for athletic events, concerts, high school graduations, and other cultural events.

Home to the VSU basketball and volleyball teams, the Multipurpose Center is a physical manifestation of Trojan pride and serves as a catalyst for the revitalization of Ettrick to become a distinguished college town. As the largest arena in the area, it is intended to be a destination for public shows, meetings and events, concerts, and other cultural entertainment. Conveniently located, the Multipurpose Center is a short walk from the main campus and is also positioned for community access.

The exterior design of the facility blends the traditional aesthetic of the campus with modern elements of metal and glass, while the interior layout showcases a panoramic view of the campus from the main monumental stairway. Supporting University sustainability initiatives, the Multipurpose Center has earned LEED Silver accreditation. In addition to the horseshoe-style arena and the open-bowl design, the facility includes classrooms and offices, a fitness and wellness center, spectator suites, conference spaces, and a full-service kitchen able to accommodate a 900-person banquet.

The Clark Nexsen/AECOM design team sought to design a facility that complemented VSU’s surroundings, honored the campus history, and supported the University’s vision for the future. The trusted partnership between the experienced design and construction team, coupled with the University and community’s energy and vision, has delivered an exceptional end result—a Multipurpose Center that will effectively serve the region for years to come.

ASID Carolinas Excellence in Design First Place Award, 2017