Built in 1966 as a residence for 341 students, O’Shaughnessy Hall at Virginia Tech consists of two wings and a central tower. In 2017, the university began renovations to upgrade furnishings, install air conditioning, and add community space and a unique glass-enclosed stairway to face a newly landscaped exterior courtyard. It reopened in 2018 as the Residential Leadership Community, a living-learning community.

The eight-story, 69,211 sf renovated building accommodates 335 students, a classroom, a community living room, staff offices, a faculty meeting area, and a faculty apartment. Schnabel’s team completed a geotechnical engineering study for the stair tower and provided foundation and floor slab design recommendations. We also conducted an evaluation of interior hazardous building materials that consisted of a limited asbestos and lead-based paint inspection.

We performed the hazardous materials survey in accordance with the EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants and the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations. The survey also included an evaluation of light ballasts, fluorescent bulbs, and thermostat switches with respect to the presence of PCBs and mercury.

Of the more than 670 samples of suspected hazardous materials that we collected and submitted for laboratory analysis, 120 contained asbestiform minerals in quantities greater than 1%. To measure the lead content in paint samples, we used an x-ray fluorescence analyzer. From 1,400+ readings, we identified 180 as containing lead. Our project deliverable was a detailed report containing survey activities, laboratory results, and recommendations for hazardous material abatement and disposal methods.

Photo: Courtesy of Virginia Tech