Construction on the Jerry Falwell Library hit an important milestone on Monday, as the last steel beam to support the 170,000-square-foot structure was put in place. The beam was first signed by Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., his wife Becki; Dr. Ronald Godwin, Liberty’s provost; and Charles Spence, Liberty’s director of planning and construction, before being placed in the bridge portion that connects the two large structures.
The $50 million project is Liberty’s largest investment in any one structure to date and the only building on campus named for its founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. The university broke ground on the facility in March 2012, and it is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2014. Mechanical, plumbing, and electrical work is under way.
The four-story structure will include the latest technological advances, including a four-story robotic book retrieval system and fully equipped computer labs. It will feature Jeffersonian-style architecture and a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a soon-to-be-created lake. Plans call for plenty of casual seating areas, reading rooms, a spacious food court, and multiple balconies and terraces.
“To date, we’ve never built a project anywhere near this kind of expense,” Spence said Monday. “The idea is to change the way we’ve been doing things … building a much more institutional building that will be around for many, many years and perform very well. We’re looking into the future with some facilities that will equal Liberty’s quality of education.”
Spence said there have been about 250-300 workers on site, including Liberty construction planners and crews from Branch Associates, Inc.
|Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.'s signature on the beam includes "TCC," which stands for the school's mission, "Training Champions for Christ," a phrase used often by his father.|
Alan Askew, construction coordinator for Liberty, said progress is coming along well and excitement is mounting.
“I hear from a lot of people who can’t believe how big it is,” he said. “… With it being the largest square footage or dollar project we’ve done, it’s special.”
The timetable has been adjusted, Askew said, because of weather challenges but also to allow more time to enhance an already impressive building plan.
“We do all our buildings right, but this one being the namesake of our founder, it’s a special building and we want to make sure we take the time, with the finishes and things inside, and we get it right.”