Frostburg State University Gira Center for Communications and Information Technology

As the first new academic building at Frostburg State University in 11 years, the Catherine R. Gira Center for Communications and Information Technology successfully combines the disciplines of computer science and information technologies, graphic design, mass communication and mathematics under one roof. The three-story, 127,000 square foot facility sits at the heart of the campus and is arranged around an outdoor courtyard, with pathways to the adjacent Performing Arts Center, Compton Science Center and Lane Center.

The site was mined for coal during a period from the late 1800s to the 1950s using room and pillar construction methods. Because abandoned mines can pose an elevated risk of subsidence for any new construction, Schnabel—which had worked on numerous other campus buildings under similar conditions—was hired to conduct a mine assessment study and a geotechnical engineering study. The mine assessment study required review of historic subsurface mining information; test borings; downhole camera surveys; and a stability assessment report and recommendations. The site was stabilized by filling the mines with 3,265 cubic yards of grout and concrete.

The data collected during the geotechnical study informed the recommendations we made for design and construction of the building and related site improvements. Other tasks included development of foundation and earthwork-related specifications, geothermal testing and construction observation.

Designed by Ayers Saint Gross, the $45 million LEED Gold certified Gira Center opened in September 2014.