Exterior facade of building showing hexagonal benzene rings
Hexagonal shapes represent benzene rings on the exterior façade of the Special Programs Building, newly renovated home to SPCS.

SPCS opens its 61st year with a return to the Special Programs Building

August 23, 2023

SPCS Office Renovation

SPCS offices have returned to our home in the Special Programs Building (SPB) effective August 23. Our year-long absence from SPB allowed a full renovation of office and classroom spaces and enabled the School’s entire faculty and staff to be housed in the same building for the first time in recent memory.

As a result, the street and mailing address for all SPCS offices has reverted to our permanent address:

490 Westhampton Way
University of Richmond, VA 23173

The SPB renovation for SPCS comprised the entire second story and a majority of the first floor, including the former Student Health Center and COVID-19 testing space. University Police and Parking Services retain their space on the first floor, which remains under renovation during the fall.

SPCS faculty offices are now located on the second floor, along with offices for student services (advising and admissions), academic program management, administration (deans and assistant to the dean), professional education, and Partners in the Arts and the Center for Leadership in Education. In a significant change, all SPCS Education faculty and staff are now located in SPB, housed along with their colleagues on the second floor.

The main reception area has shifted to the first floor, where the Osher Institute and marketing and engagement teams are also housed. In another significant change, SPB classrooms have been relocated to the first floor.

More details and an open house invitation will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming new students and visitors into our new spaces!

About That Façade

Several people have asked if the exterior façade of SPB would be updated. The short answer is no, but the long answer is interesting for history buffs and science lovers.

The University Facilities website includes an architectural history of each building on campus, and SPB is included. There, you can discover that the building was constructed in 1963 to house the Virginia Institute for Scientific Research (VISR). At that time, the building was named the Allen T. Gwathney Laboratory in honor of the founder of the VISR and functioned as a scientific laboratory. A lab explosion and fire in 1972 destroyed equipment, research, and supplies, but the building remained intact. In 1975, the University took over the loan for the building and relocated the VISR office elsewhere on campus for a period of time. Since then, the building has housed many different programs, including Summer School, Graduate School, the print shop, science labs, and art studios.

What this architectural history doesn’t explain, but popular campus lore confirms, is that the building’s exterior façade was designed to represent benzene rings. The interlocking hexagon design reflects the molecular formula C6H6, as shown in an entry in the Illustrated Glossary of Organic Chemistry. While we haven’t confirmed this detail, we like the lore and plan to highlight the building’s exterior to represent its historical roots as a scientific research facility.

As always, if you have questions, please contact our office at 804-289-8133.