Nitsch Engineering assessed service options and designed innovative and environmentally friendly stormwater management systems in support of the new John W. Elrod Commons at the historic Washington and Lee University. The 101,240-square-foot Student Commons is the center of student campus life, housing the University Bookstore, dining facilities, a theater, meeting rooms, lounge areas, various offices, and an outdoor amphitheater. Poised at the top of a major slope above Woods Creek, the Student Commons could have adversely affected the Woods Creek watershed, an extremely environmentally sensitive area.

Since the Commons is the center of the campus, its service demands are many, from food service and mail delivery to bookstore supply. Nitsch Engineering assisted the architect with an engineering analysis to determine the cost and environmental effects from each of 11 service options. These service options included bridges over Woods Creek, cut-slope roadway access, and remote-site/shuttle supply options. Nitsch Engineering recommended creating an underground service level below the Commons Building, to be accessed from Washington Street, completely eliminating the potential damage to the Woods Creek area.

In collaboration with the architect and landscape architect, Nitsch Engineering designed the stormwater management system to minimize disruption to the steep slopes of the drainage basin while still controlling the increased flow due to the development. We designed an underground detention release system as a Best Management Practice for stormwater mitigation, and introduced local permitting authorities to this type of creative solution for the first time. Nitsch Engineering also designed site utilities and layout.

Sustainable Project