Renovated Wayland Hall to be Transformed by the Arts

From: Public Affairs

Imagine entering your residence hall and being greeted by a gallery of art-studded walls. Visualize yourself watching a practice dance rehearsal or catching the faint murmur of the saxophone streaming through the air. Beginning in fall 2011, the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts will not be the only place to witness and hear such talent. Next year, expect this and more in James Madison University's Wayland Hall.

drawing of renovated Wayland Hall
An artists rendering of the renovated Wayland Hall

Wayland Hall Renovation Aiming for LEED Platinum Status


The renovation of Wayland Hall exemplifies James Madison University’s persistence and commitment to strive for sustainability. The residence hall is undergoing a redesign with a green, environmentally conscious approach.

Construction is highly centered around achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification, the highest LEED certification status. The Wayland Hall renovation is the first building on campus to attempt LEED platinum status.

LEED is a standard green building certification system supervised by the United States Green Building Council that recognizes the implementation of eco-friendly building strategies for better environmental and health performance.

LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills and conserve energy. The East Campus Dining Hall received LEED Gold Status in 2009.

According to David Oakland, principal of VMDO Architects, the firm working with JMU on the renovation, Wayland Hall has achieved 10 LEED points with the proposal to incorporate a heating and air conditioning system that utilizes the mass of the Earth to reject and store heat.

"The geothermal HVAC system will utilize ground source water to make heating and cooling the building more efficient, leaving a smaller carbon footprint," said Maggie Evans, director of the Office of Residence Life.

"We are also expecting heroic savings in water use," Oakland said. "We have a 10,000-gallon tank that will harvest rainwater. This will be filtered, colored light blue and used to flush the many toilets in the building, reducing water consumption by 40 percent from expected usage rates."

Oakland emphasizes that the students living in the hall will be partners in the sustainability effort. "Only so much can be done by architects and engineers," said Oakland. "We need to give students the information and control that will allow and encourage them to use the building very efficiently by knowing how it works."

The final application to the USGB Council will be sent subsequent to completed construction in fall 2011.


Wayland Hall will house JMU's newest learning community, which features a unique collaboration between the Office of Residence Life and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The redesign is focused on creating a living and learning center for students interested in the arts.

Redesigning Wayland

According to Maggie Evans, director of the Office of Residence Life, the renovation includes new performance, exhibition, practice and classroom space.

The multipurpose space on the ground floor will offer impeccable acoustics, retractable stadium seating and traces of bluestone interior walls. "Instead of parking, there will be a series of gardens, seating, bike paths and storm water drainage that will provide a relaxing outdoor space for students to sit and read or talk together," Evans said.

Wayland will be a very arts-active community, allowing students to gather for group rehearsals, meet for class, view and critique hallmates' performances and revel in the joy of the arts—all in the comfort of their own home.

"It is comforting for students to begin their college experience in a community where they can express their passion for the arts right off the bat," said George Sparks, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

One-of-a-Kind Learning Community

Wayland's new learning community will be the first of its kind at JMU. The community will cater to the multiple CVPA disciplines offered at JMU, including theater, dance, music, art and art history.

Facilitating the development of a broader, holistic appreciation of art, the learning community will expose students to a wider range of skills and talents separate from their fields of concentration.

"I am excited all the arts will be interconnected in one living community," said Sparks. "We want to get as many interdisciplinary divisions involved, for the creative spirit is infectious."

Students choosing this learning community will take one common class together taught in their hall. Sparks is excited about the potential of teaching a cross-theory class to this diverse group of students that will include excursions and lectures from visiting faculty.

Although future composers, performers, art educators and artists will be naturally drawn to this learning community, Wayland Hall is envisioned to be a "melting pot" of students. The learning community will welcome freshmen from any major with an interest and passion for the arts.

While the learning community will consist of roughly 15 to 60 freshmen during the first year, Evans said the option of incorporating upper-class students will be considered as the program grows.

National Stage

The Forbes Center opening, the arts-focused redesign of Wayland Hall and its arts-based learning community all contribute to JMU's commitment to educating outstanding future visual and performing artists.

Sparks did not hold back his excitement, saying, "JMU is creating a real national place for the arts."

Sept. 27, 2010