Alfred W. Harris Academic Commons

, Virginia State University

Petersburg, VA

Exterior view
Aerial rendering
Building plaza

Virginia State University (VSU) has broken ground on the largest building in the university’s history. The Alfred W. Harris Academic Commons, named for the university founder, is a $120 million academic facility serving as an interdisciplinary hub at the center of campus.

VSU intends to collocate fifteen departments, including the College of Education, College of Humanities and Social Science, Military Science, and Health and Physical Education and Recreation. Home to 40+ high-tech classrooms, 110 faculty offices, a theater, exhibition gallery, gymnasium, and pool, the commons offers transformational academic experiences.

Taking a bold approach, the team designed a sweeping glass façade offering views that celebrate the classrooms inside, showcasing VSU’s commitment to student success. The graceful glass arc is centered on the Fountain of Knowledge — the heart of VSU’s campus. Synergies exist between mind and body, so the academic classrooms are adjacent to the gymnasium and pool, where students train alongside the ROTC candidates. Fine art students create in the Black Box Theatre — a flexible performance and education space — and display their work in the exhibition gallery. Prominently located at the nexus of these programs sits the Department of Mass Communications, where global media innovators work with traditional and emerging technologies.

Blending seamlessly with the campus’ historic brick colors while highlighting the beauty of the landscape, the Alfred W. Harris Academic Commons showcases Trojan pride from inside and out.

Building Facts

  • 175,000 GSF
  • 40+ Classrooms
  • 110 Faculty Offices