Rice Hall Information Technology and Engineering project

Rice Hall Information Technology and Engineering Project on the University of Virginia Campus

Won-Door the singular choice for Rice Hall Information Technology building

By Sharon Haddock

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Without Won-Door FireGuard doors, the Rice Hall Information Technology and Engineering project on the University of Virginia campus "never would have worked," says the project manager for the job.

Eleven Won-Door accordion doors made it possible to effectively safeguard the two exit stairwells in the five and six-story building and yet keep the open feel architects at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson wanted, said Franklin Bowser. Bowser works for the general contractor, W.M. Jordan.

"We actually had two projects (on the campus) where we used the Won-Door doors, Bowser said. "The Won-Doors allow us to be fire-wall rated and still create the open look we wanted."

Bowser said he's worked with Won-Door before but never with so many on a single project.

One door is actually two doors that come together in the basement. The other 10 are all above ground. The doors curve gracefully when they're fully activated, disappear when they're not.

Both staircases are of glass so when the accordion doors are hidden in their pockets, the stairs appear to be grand staircases, Bowser said.

Darrell Kauric, lead architect on the building for BCJ, said the Won-doors made a significant impact on the final result "because they could open up the full width of the staircase."

"It's really amazing," Kauric said. "Because the doors curve, there really was no other option (that could work as well)."

The 105,000 square-foot ITE building at the corner of Whitehead Road and Stadium Road was finished in the fall of 2011, providing much needed space for teaching, computational research, faculty offices and student projects for The School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The Rice Hall building features a cyber-lounge, a 150-seat auditorium, a visualization lab for scientific computing, a computer vision and graphics lab, workrooms, conference rooms and a courtyard.

It helps define the south entrance to the science and engineering precinct and is connected to Olsson Hall at the basement level. It was designed and constructed concurrently with The College of Arts and Sciences Physical and Life Science Research Building which also utilized Won-Door FireGuard doors in its design.

The new buildings are part of the University's science initiative, an initiative focused on sustaining the ongoing work of existing faculty and attracting new researchers.

The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson and is commonly referred to as "Mr. Jefferson's university." (The school houses one of the 25 remaining original copies of The Declaration of Independence.)