General Building Data
Building Name: New 8th Street Office Building
Location: Richmond, VA
Occupant: Virginia General Assembly and various Virginia government agencies
Function: Government office building
Size: 307,178 square feet
Height: 176'-5"
Number of Stories: 4 below grade, 10 above grade + mechanical penthouse
Dates of Construction: Delayed due to a current state budgetary deficit
Project Cost: Approximately $113 million
Project Delivery Method: Design-Bid-Build
Project Team
Interior Architect: Commonwealth Architects
101 Schockoe Slip, 3rd Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Design Architect: Perkins + Will
2100 M Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20037
Landscape Architect: Snead Associates, P.C.
101 West Broad Street, Suite 100A
Richmond, VA 23220
Structural Engineer: Rathgeber/Goss Associates
15871 Crabbs Branch Way
Rockville, MD 20855
MEP Engineer: Integral Performance Engineering
11520 Nuckols Road, Suite 110
Glen Allen, VA 23059
Civil Engineer: Draper Aden Associates
8090 Villa Park Drive
Richmond, VA 23228
Preconstruction Services: W.M. Jordan
708 Bainbridge Street
Richmond, VA 23224
Fire Protection Engineer: The Protection Engineering Group
14900 Bogle Drive, Suite 200
Chantilly, VA 20151
Telecommunications Engineer: WB Engineers|Consultants
263 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210
Lighting Consultant: Grenald Waldron Associates
260 Haverford Avenue
Narberth, PA 19072
Acoustical Consultant: Acoustical Design Collaborative
7509 L'Hirondelle Club Road
Ruxton, MD 21204

Design and Functional Components:

Located in the bustling Richmond, VA commercial district near the Virginia State Capitol Building, the New 8th Street Office Building is intended to be a legacy building that will serve the needs of the state government as well as the general public.  As a result, the primary entrance along East Broad Street and 8th Street has been designed for the secure control of employees and visitors alike.  The main lobby will efficiently handle high volume traffic through direct access to the first floor assembly area as well as central escalators to the second floor assembly and meeting areas.  The remainder of the floors will contain offices.  On the corner of East Broad Street and 9th Street, ground level retail space will help to enhance the downtown shopping experience.  Furthermore, the building will be linked along its southern edge on the 2nd through the 6th floors with the existing 9th Street Office Building. 

In order to create a landmark building, the New 8th Street Office Building will integrate several outstanding architectural features.  The connection with the existing 9th Street Office Building will be made through a grand 6 story atrium.  Please see Figure 1 for an elevation of the atrium. Catwalks will cross the atrium on the 3rd and 5th floors below an impressive 14’-8” by 24’-0” skylight.  In addition, a wall of artifacts will span the height of the atrium amidst the catwalks.  These artifacts will be salvaged remnants from the demolished 8th Street Office Building, such as terra cotta cornices and limestone scrolls and sills.  The roof of the atrium extends to a 7th floor terrace with planters for a variety of shrubs and trees; rooftop terraces with planters also occur on the 3rd and 10th floors.  Finally, a 32’-0” cantilevered roof completes the quest for a legacy building.
Atrium West Elevation | Commonwealth Architects
Figure 1

Major Codes:

  • Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code 2003
    • National Electric Code 2002 (replaces the International Electric Code 2003 in the IBC 2003)
  • International Building Code 2003
    • ASCE 7-02
    • International Mechanical Code 2003
    • International Plumbing Code 2003
    • International Energy Conservation Code 2003
    • ASME A17.1-2000 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators
  • Virginia Statewide Fire Protection Code 2003
  • Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Guidelines 2004


State buildings are not required to comply with zoning regulations.  However, the height, volume and floor area ratio do comply with the City of Richmond B-4 Central Business District regulations.

Historical Requirements:

While there are no historical requirements, great care was taken to be considerate of historical surroundings, such as St. Peter’s Church located adjacent to the site.  Please see Figure 2 for an elevation that includes St. Peter's Church. A community group, which included representatives from several historical preservation groups, was created to advise the design team throughout the design process.

8th Street Elevation showing relationship to St. Peter's Church | Commonwealth Architects
Figure 2
Building Enclosure

The New 8th Street Office Building employs a series of glass curtain walls to create a contemporary façade.  Along the East Broad Street elevation, a glass curtain wall spans from the 2nd floor to the penthouse with horizontal lines created by using a variety of glazing.  This curtain wall then transitions into a second glass curtain wall that wraps around the northeast corner of the building, where the primary entrance to the building is located.  The second curtain wall is tilted out at an approximately 3° angle in order to make a bold statement at the entrance.  Continuing around the building on the east side, a third curtain wall spans the 6 story projection.  It counteracts the previous curtain wall by tilting inward at an approximately 5° angle.  The third curtain wall continues above the roof of the projection in order to act as a balustrade for the 7th floor terrace.  A fourth curtain wall begins on the upper east elevation of the building and wraps around to the south.  Glass sunshades on stainless steel brackets protrude 1’-10” from the fourth curtain wall at 1’-3” intervals.  The final glass curtain wall, with the exception of a few smaller ones on the west side, encloses the atrium connector to the 9th Street Office Building.  The mullions for all of the glass curtain walls are aluminum with a fluorocarbon coating.  Specific information on the types of glazing is not available at this time.

The remainder of the façade consists of precast concrete panels.  Light sandblasting and bush hammering of alternating courses creates different textures.  Painted aluminum-framed strip windows are interspersed with architectural metal cladding.  The ground level storefronts are framed by stainless steel, and a 27’-6” stainless steel canopy beckons visitors to the main entrance of the building. Please see Figures 3 and 4 for renderings of the various curtain walls and facade materials.

The primary roofing system is an insulated membrane assembly that consists of a hot, fluid-applied, rubberized-asphalt waterproofing membrane; woven-geotextile-faced, molded-sheet drainage panels; and extruded-polystyrene board insulation.  The planter membrane assembly is a modified version of the insulated membrane assembly.  It replaces the insulation with perforated piping to provide for more drainage.  To finish the system, 24” by 24” concrete pavers are placed upon pedestals, and granite pavers replace the concrete pavers for the terraces with planters.  Finally, a standing seam metal roofing system adorns the perimeter of the roof, including the 32’-0” cantilever on the east edge.  The standing seam panels are of 22 gauge stainless steel and 12” wide.  The panels are attached with stainless steel clips and fasteners, and the joints are sealed for optimum weatherproof performance.

Southeast View | Commonwealth Architects
Northeast View | Commonwealth Architects
Figure 3
Figure 4
Sustainability Features
The New 8th Street Office Building has been designed to achieve Silver Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for New Construction Version 2.2 Rating System.  Sustainable features include the planters on the rooftop terraces, daylighting with sunshades and roller shades along the south and east facades, raised flooring to assist with air circulation, and low VOC adhesives and sealants. Please see Figure 5 for a rendering of the sunshades. Unfortunately, the Division 1 “Sustainable Design Requirements” section and other relevant sections are not available at this time for more information.
South-facing Sunshades | Commonwealth Architects
  Figure 5


The 8th Street Office Building is not scheduled for construction at this time due to a deficit in the Virginia state budget.  A general contractor has not been retained; however, preconstruction services were provided by W.M. Jordan.


Electrical System

The 8th Street Office Building will be served with power from Dominion Virginia Power’s existing 34.5 kV distribution system.  Two 34.5 kV to 4160 V transformers will be provided by the power company and kept in a vault on 8th Street.  Only one of the transformers is needed to carry the building’s total load, but two will be provided for redundancy.  Three 5 kV to 480Y/277V unit substations will be located in the mechanical penthouse of the 8th Street Office Building.  Two of the unit substations will feed the core electrical closets on each floor through vertical bus duct risers, and the third unit substation will feed the mechanical equipment in the penthouse.  Separate bus ducts will be provided in each of two core electrical closets per floor to feed the lighting/HVAC loads and the receptacle panels.

Emergency power for both the 8th Street and 9th Street Office Buildings will be provided by a 500 kW, 480Y/277V diesel engine generator located in an enclosure on the roof.  The emergency generator is intended to serve loads such as egress lighting, smoke removal fans and the fire alarm system.  Mission critical power for both the 8th and 9th Street Office Buildings will be provided by two 500 kW, 480Y/277V gas engine generators, which will also be located in a rooftop enclosure.  The mission critical generators are intended to serve loads such as freeze protection, sump pumps and security systems.


Lighting System

The 8th Street Office Building will primarily utilize fluorescent and high intensity discharge fixtures.  The fluorescent fixtures will consist of T5HO and T8 linear lamps and compact fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts.  The high intensity discharge fixtures will consist of ceramic metal halide lamps with electronic ballasts.  Design lighting levels were based on the Illuminating Engineering Society Lighting Handbook, 9th Edition.  The office spaces will contain indirect/direct pendants with T5HO lamps.  Lighting around the perimeter of the office spaces will have dimming electronic ballasts, and daylight sensors will be used to control the level of dimming.  The corridors will contain recessed compact fluorescent downlights; wider corridors may contain pendants.  Finally, the façade of the 8th Street Office Building will be lit with linear LED fixtures and metal halide flood fixtures.

Mechanical System

The heating system for the 8th Street Office Building will consist of three 250 HP boilers located in the mechanical penthouse.  Two of the boilers will need to operate in order to handle the estimated 14,500,000 MBH heating load; the third boiler will be provided for redundancy.  A primary-secondary hot water distribution system will be used in conjunction with the boilers, and the piping for the hot water system will be of carbon steel.

The cooling system for the 8th Street Office Building will consist of three 500 ton centrifugal chillers located in the mechanical penthouse.  All three chillers will need to operate for the estimated peak cooling load of 1,450 tons.  However, space will be provided in the penthouse for a fourth chiller should more redundancy be desired in the future.  Three induced draft cooling towers will be located on the roof at the penthouse level to reject heat from the chilled water system.

Variable volume air handling units will be located in the mechanical rooms near the corners of the building core.  Each unit will be sized at approximately 10,000 CFM to serve the typical office space cooling loads.  Ventilation will be provided by ducting outside air from makeup air units in the penthouse to the air handling units.

Structural System

The main superstructure of the 8th Street Office Building is primarily steel framing with composite metal deck.  Typical bay sizes are either 20’-0” by 40’-6” around the perimeter of the building or 20’-0” by 30’-0” within the middle of the building.  W14 columns are typically spliced every three floors and connected to wide flange girders of varying sizes.  The infill beams tend to be W16x31, W18x35 or W18x40 depending on the span length and are typically spaced 10’-0” on center.  Composite action is achieved between the floor system and the beams through ¾” diameter shear studs.

The lateral load resisting system for the 8th Street Office Building consists of reinforced concrete shear walls surrounding four transportation cores within the building.  There are a total of 16 shear walls with a thickness of 12”.  The wall are reinforced horizontally with #6 bars spaced at 12” on each face and vertically with #8 bars spaced at 12” on each face.

The 8th Street Office Building’s 3 ½ level underground parking garage is a concrete structure with typical bay sizes of either 20’-0” by 40’-6” or 20’-0” by 30’-0”.  The concrete columns are sized to be 30”x30” and tend to be reinforced with 16 #10 bars.  The concrete beams are typically sized to be 30”x30” although there are several exceptions.  Reinforcement for the beams ranges anywhere from #7 to #11 bars.    The majority of the one way concrete slabs are 8” thick and reinforced with #5 bars spaced at 12”.

Finally, the geotechnical report recommended that a mat foundation system designed for a maximum allowable bearing pressure of 3,500 psf be used for the 8th Street Office Building.  The mat foundation will be 48” thick and reinforced with #10 spaced at 12” each way on the top and bottom.  The mat will be placed on a 12” layer of free-draining aggregate for drainage and to provide uniform bearing pressure.


Fire Protection

The 8th Street Office Building will be equipped with a voice evacuation fire alarm system in order to assist occupants in evacuation of the building.  A complete automatic sprinkler system will also be provided throughout the entire building.  Fire barriers, including enclosures of exit stairs and passageways, will have a minimum fire rating of 2 hours.  All structural framing members such as columns, girders and beams will also have a minimum fire rating of 2 hours.  Finally, a smoke removal system dedicated to the six story atrium will be provided.  As part of the system, fans equipped with variable speed drives will be located on the roof of the 9th Street Office Building adjacent to the atrium.



The main entrance to the 8th Street Office Building will be located on the corner of East Broad Street and 8th Street.  The main lobby will lead directly to two escalators that provide transportation to the 2nd floor of the building.  The building will also contain four main transportation cores in a central location.  There will be a total of six elevators and two sets of stairs within the cores.  Three more elevators will be located between two of the cores, and one of the elevators will be oversized in order to act as a service elevator.  Finally, there will be a third set of stairs on the west side of the building that exits directly to the outside.



The primary objective of the telecommunications system is to provide a highly adaptable and flexible cabling design since the occupancy and space layout of the building will likely change.  A variety of applications will be supported such as voice, data, video and security systems.  The 8th Street Office Building will be a raised floor facility, and consolidation points will be utilized beneath the floor for the cables.  There will be a minimum of one communication room per floor, and the rooms will be located to minimize cabling distances.  It has been suggested, although not finalized in the design, that the physical equipment for the independent networks of the House and the Senate be located in the same rooms but placed in separate, locked cabinets.


Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work-in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Carol Gaertner. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.

All renderings have been provided courtesy of Commonwealth Architects.
This page was last updated on 10.11.09 by Carol Gaertner and is hosted by the AE Department ©2009.