Proj Overview

Project Overview

When Moss and Johns Residence Halls at Longwood University were erected in 1969 and 1970, they were built out of concrete masonry with uninsulated brick cavity walls. Fifty years later, when the 10-story residence halls needed repair, the university considered demolishing them but opted instead to renovate the buildings with an insulated precast concrete, brick-faced panel system that could mimic the traditional aesthetic of the historic college campus. The precast concrete solution saved time and money, while retaining the welcoming appearance of these structures.

Down to the Frame

To transform the outdated residence halls to include modern amenities, the project team had to first strip them down to the steel frame. The entire facade was then replaced with an architectural precast concrete panel system supported on separate foundations that did not add loading to the existing structural steel frame.

The design team worked directly with the precast concrete producer, using building information modeling (BIM) software to develop the final detailing of the building envelope. This allowed for the smooth development and approval of shop drawings, so that the production of the panels could be accelerated to meet the project schedule.

The primary design challenges for the project were achieving consistent architectural details and giving the monotonous layout some articulation and architectural interest. The designers were able to achieve the intricate detailing while staying within the budget through the use repetitive forms, which included thin brick embedded in precast concrete with limestone accents with an acid-etched finish. Off-site precasting also sped up construction and reduced the number of trades on site at the busy campus. This helped the team meet the strict goal of renovating each building within one academic year.

The designers used highly repetitive forms for the precast concrete facade panels to achieve consistent architectural details and alignments. Then, they placed the panels in different configurations to add variety to the design. Durability and precision were achieved through factory-controlled production, which delivered the panels to the job precisely when they were needed.

The self-supporting precast concrete cladding system brought beauty, structural capability, and excellent thermal performance to the campus on a demanding schedule. Each building, from demolition to occupancy by students, was completed within one year.


2021 Design AwardsHigher Education/University Honorable Mention
Project Team


Longwood Housing Foundation, Farmville, Va.

PCI-Certified Precast Concrete Producer:

Gate Precast Company, Oxford, N.C.

Precast specialty engineer:

Gate Precast Company, Brentwood, Tenn.

Architect of record:

Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, Arlington, Va.

Design architect:

Franck & Lohsen Architects, Washington D.C.

Engineer of record:

Alpha Corporation, Sterling, Va.

General Contractor:

English Construction, Lynchburg, Va.

PCI-Certified Erector:

E. E. Marr Erectors, Baltimore, Md.

Photo Credit:

Gate Precast Company
T. Frisbie-Fulton

Project cost:

$63 million

Project Size:

217,678 ft²

Key Project Attributes

  • Architectural precast concrete panels deliver historic architectural detail in a cost-effective package.
  • The panel system is supported on separate foundations that do not add load to the existing steel frame.
  • Each renovation was delivered within one academic year.

Project/Precast Scope

  • Completely renovate two 10-story residence halls.
  • The project included 740 precast concrete architectural wall panels.
  • The first tower was delivered in August 2019, the second in August 2020.