The Franklin Street Gym on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University is set to be replaced by a new building dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math education.

Money given to the university from the state will pay for a new $121 million building that will house lab, classroom and office space for the College of Humanities and Sciences. The university plans to build the new STEM facility where the Franklin Street Gym currently stands.

The gym, located at 817 W. Franklin St., is set to be demolished next spring.

“The new STEM facility will provide a state-of-the-art learning, research and collaboration space in a location that is in the heart of the student community,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement.

In a news release, the university said the new building will have 34 teaching labs, a facility for math instruction, computer labs and two large-capacity classrooms, among other things. It also will have specialty classrooms for students to learn about chemistry, biology, physics, math, psychology and kinesiology, the university said.

The state is paying for the entirety of the $121 million project. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the budget giving the money to VCU last week.

“The new building will help enhance the academic success of our students by providing the laboratories where students can put to practice the knowledge acquired during the lectures,” said Montse Fuentes, the dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. “This space is essential to provide experiential learning opportunities to our students, facilitate both innovative and flexible teaching methods, and provide students with both instructional and study space that will prepare them to become indispensable to our society.”

The Franklin Street Gym is mostly vacant, except for a few classrooms and offices. The university’s main gym is on Cary Street.

Its replacement, the to-be-named STEM building, is part of the university’s campus master plan, which the board of visitors approved in March.

The plan — dubbed the ONE VCU master plan — calls for new green spaces, creating student commons and wellness building on Cary Street on the Monroe Park campus, and consolidating adult outpatient clinics at VCU Health, among other things. It also outlines plans for building new student housing — the plan says one of the first housing projects is likely to be at 700 W. Grace St., where the Facilities and Financial Services Building is located — and building a student gallery adjacent to the Institute for Contemporary Art’s Markel Center.

The six-floor, 168,000-square-foot STEM building is being designed by Ballinger and BCWH and constructed by Hourigan.

In a statement, BCWH said the new building is being seen as the “centerpiece for the Monroe Park campus.”

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Twitter: @jmattingly306

Politics/Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers state government and education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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