A Building for Construction
Bishop-Favrao Hall's opening celebration was May 1
By Albert Raboteau
When building construction major Sheila Matarazzo wants to see how the complex network of drains, water lines and electrical wires are organized in a large structure, all she has to do is look up.
Unlike a traditional academic building, Bishop-Favrao Hall, which houses Virginia Tech's building construction department and Myers-Lawson School of Construction, has no drop ceiling. Exposed pipes, their purposes labeled, also run along many of the hall's walls. While the interior might look unfinished to an uninformed observer, that is hardly the case.
Mechanical systems are visible
"As a junior your main building construction class is on systems -- electrical, plumbing, HVAC," explained Matarazzo, a rising senior from Lovettsville, Va., who aspires to manage projects for a large commercial contractor. "So having those open to see for us works directly with [what we are learning]. We've had multiple assignments that have been [to] look at the first floor, second floor, third floor, and explain what is going on. The building has been a huge teaching device."
Founded by William Favrao in 1947, the building construction program has operated out of many locations, both on and off campus, throughout its history. One of its former homes is now a tattoo parlor. Last year, the program used space in downtown Blacksburg while some of its professor's offices were in Burruss Hall. But, thanks to the support of donors, construction faculty and students now have a 31,600-square-foot building tailored to their needs.
Richard Bishop, building construction '67, gave the lead gift for the hall. He asked that the building, which opened in the spring semester, also be named for Favrao, who died in 1977. But many other donors participated in the project. Private support comprised a majority of the building's funding package.
Matarazzo said the new building has already improved the quality of her education by providing a large common area for students to work together day or night.
"Being a BC major means that a majority of your work is group projects, so it's just completely life-changing having it," she said of that space.
Matarazzo was one of the hundreds of students, alumni, faculty and friends of the university who gathered at the building for an opening celebration May 1.
At the event, Yvan Beliveau, who headed the building construction department until he became director of the Myers-Lawson School when it opened less than two years ago, described another of Bishop-Favrao Hall's highlights -- the first-floor lab where students will be able to access cutting-edge equipment.
"Industry is moving really fast now, and with building information modeling, automatic prototyping, and digital imaging, as well as numerical control machines, construction is not going to stay the same," he said. "And so we're investing in much of that equipment as well."
Vince Cilimberg graduated from the construction program in 1950 and returned to teach in it from 1976 to 1995. He was one of many alumni at the opening ceremony, and called the building "magnificent."
"It's something that I think a lot of building construction graduates would not have imagined that we would have been able to get," he said. "It's something that Yvan [Beliveau] and Richard Bishop have worked so hard for, and now it's come to fruition. It's just outstanding. I'm so happy for the program."