Old Dominion University’s (ODU’s) new Chemistry Building, a 110,500-square-foot facility, is located in the City of Norfolk in the metropolitan Hampton Roads region of coastal Virginia. The university serves as a dynamic public research institution educating 23,500 students, 5,000 of which are enrolled in its chemistry program. Exemplifying health, wellness and sustainability, the four-story building was designed by Moseley Architects and SmithGroup JJR, and built to meet U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® criteria. Watch a video tour of the new Chemistry Building here.

The Chemistry Building’s interior spaces are organized to promote interaction and conversation. A good acoustic experience is critical to supporting this intention.

Old Dominion University (ODU) – Chemistry Building

Norfolk, VA

The Chemistry Building is an amazing facility that will greatly improve the learning experience and ability to do research for both students and faculty. Every detail has been thought through to support student success and opportunity.
The design of the educational spaces in the new building is incredibly appealing.
The space has a very collaborative feel.

Gail Dodge

dean of ODU’s College of Sciences

With respect to the occupants’ wellness and the university’s sustainability initiatives, ODU Design Standards state that “interior finish selections shall be high quality, durable materials” and that “environmental attributes of all interior finishes should be specified when product is proposed, including percentage recycled content, low/zero volatile organic compound (VOC)” or other attributes.

With ODU’s location just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, resistance to moisture and humidity was important to the design team. ODU Design Standards also call for materials to meet or exceed the latest version of the LEED rating system.

Rockfon’s ceiling systems were specified to meet the project’s multiple goals including for sustainability, acoustics and aesthetics.

We needed a building worthy of our programs, of our faculty, of our students, one that would inspire innovation and provide opportunities for all. This new facility will provide one of the best chemistry experiences to students in the commonwealth.

The Chemistry Building meets the needs of today and tomorrow, propelling our research enterprise and allowing us to graduate a better-prepared and more diverse corps of scientists, technologists, engineers and math and health professionals to face the future head on.

John Broderick

Former President, ODU

Complementing the STEM-based aesthetic, Rockfon’s metal ceiling panels were specified to for a sleek, futuristic look. In areas designed for quieter conversations, perforated metal panels with acoustic backers achieve an Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of up to 0.95. In classrooms and conference rooms, Rockfon Alaska panels provide high levels of sound absorption with a 0.90 NRC.

With respect to ODU’s Chemistry Building, Rockfon acoustic ceiling panels made from stone wool consist of a blend of naturally occurring, volcanic basalt rock and recycled content. The stone is a plentiful, natural resource and high-tech production processes ensure environmentally responsible, efficient product manufacturing. Made in the U.S., Rockfon Alaska ceiling panels contain up to 49% recycled content.

Acoustic stone wool ceiling panels from Rockfon are UL® Environment GREENGUARD Gold certified for low VOC emissions. This stringent certification process considers safety factors that may impact people who are more vulnerable, such as people with chronic illness, the elderly and children.

Further supporting indoor air quality and healthy interiors, Rockfon’s acoustic tiles take advantage of stone wool’s natural resistance to moisture and mold. Stone wool is a hydrophobic material, meaning that it does not absorb water. Rockfon’s stone wool products not only resist moisture, but also maintain their rigidity at 100% humidity.

From the earliest visioning sessions, the words ‘science on display’ were often repeated and embraced by the full design team. The designers looked to incorporate chemistry into the very fabric of the building, making science ‘cool’.

The building itself has become a teaching tool.

Jean Kennedy Sleeman

University Architect, AIA, LEED AP
We designed everything in this building with these students in mind to give them an experience that is unparalleled.

Earning LEED certification isn’t something that’s easily accomplished when you’re designing a chemistry building.

John Cooper, Ph.D

ODU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry’s department chair and professor

Old Dominion University (ODU) – Chemistry Building

Location:Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Architect:Moseley Architects; Virginia Beach, Virginia and SmithGroup; Washington, D.C.
Contractor:W.M. Jordan Company, Inc.; Newport News, Virginia
Installer:Ocean Drywall Inc.; Virginia Beach, Virginia
Photographer:© Steve Maylone/Old Dominion University
Tiles:Rockfon Alaska®, Rockfon® Pacific™, Rockfon® Spanair® Torsion Spring Concealed Metal Panel
Grids:Chicago Metallic® 1200 15/16", Chicago Metallic® 4000 Tempra™ 9/16"