W&L’s campus construction projects right on track for completion

Tucker Hall and new natatorium to be in full use for 2017-2018 school year.

John Tompkins

Construction on Washington and Lee’s new natatorium and the restoration of the Colonnade’s Tucker Hall are both on schedule to be completed by next year, according to Executive Director of University Facilities John Hoogakker.

These latest projects are part of the university’s multimillion-dollar Campus Development Plan, which is set to continue for at least another five years.

Located on the grounds of Upper Division Housing, the one-acre natatorium will be the first building on campus dedicated exclusively to the university’s aquatics program and will house a nearly Olympic-sized pool.

It will hold over 500,000 gallons of water, and according to Hoogakker, will cost $29,000 to fill

But access to the pool will not be limited to members of the swim team. Hoogakker said that once it opens, it will be available for recreational use by the entire student body and will host a multitude of classes and events, including scuba diving and kayaking lessons.

Hoogakker said new swimming center will feature a gallery with seating for 500 spectators, strength and conditioning training rooms and both wet and dry classrooms.

The wet classroom will be located adjacent to the pool and will be comprised of water-resistant flooring, desks, chairs and other materials so swim team members can use it for practice without worrying about drying off before entering the room.

“The new Natatorium is going to give us a major facilities update and also allow for more lane space and freedom in our practices,” swim team member William Archie, ’18, said. “It’ll be nice to not split a 20-30 person practice into just six lanes.”

Hoogakker said he expects the Natatorium to be completed in full by February 2017. Once it’s finished, he said his department will turn much of its attention to updating the rest of the indoor athletics facilities on campus by restoring the Doremus Gym and demolishing and rebuilding the Warner Athletics Center.

The restoration of Tucker Hall is the final phase of the university’s $50 million renovation of the Colonnade, which began with Newcomb Hall in 2008.

“It’s called restoration for a reason, because you want to restore the original integrity of the building,” Hoogakker said. “You want it to really be inspiring architecturally and convey the ethos of the institution.”

Hoogakker said that floor space in the restored Tucker Hall will be split fairly evenly between classrooms and faculty offices. When the building reopens, it will house the Classics, Romance Languages and Religion departments.

The new and improved Tucker Hall will boast state of the art teaching facilities, an added rear entrance from Stemmons Plaza and a two-story atrium in the center of the building.

Hoogakker said his department is making its best effort to ensure that Tucker’s exterior renovations are completed and the fencing around the building removed before commencement ceremonies in May.

According to the director, the entirety of the restoration project should be completed by the beginning of Fall Term next year.

Despite all his planning and effort, Hoogakker won’t be sticking around to see the completion of this year’s campus improvement efforts. He will be leaving Washington and Lee to partially retire to Richmond next week.

But he said he has great confidence in his successor to finish the work he helped begin and carry on his goal for each of the buildings his department helps restore.

“The idea is that they come back bigger and better and ready to last another 100 years,” Hoogakker said.