Inside Norris Hall

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Inside Norris Hall

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<b>More than 20 news outlets toured the April 16 shootings site</b>

By: Amy L. Kovac


(June 14) The cinderblock walls of Norris Hall&#39;s second-floor classrooms and hallway are covered with a new coat of cream-colored paint. The classrooms stand bare, save for some newly installed white boards where blackboards previously hung. New doors replaced the ones on classrooms 204, 206, 207 and 211 that Seung-Hui Cho shot through in his violent fit almost two months ago.

But if it were not for the dozens of journalists, with their cameras and notepads, roaming the hallway, that second floor might have looked as sterile and uninhabited as any newly renovated building on Virginia Tech&#39;s campus.

The news media got their first post-April 16 look at this now-infamous building, starting at 10 this morning. Previously, journalists had been blocked from entering Norris.

"A horrendous and heinous and horrific crime occurred on our campus and on state property, and I owe it to you as members of the working press to see this," said Larry Hincker, the associate vice president for university relations.

"I simply did not want to subject families to images of Norris Hall at that time," he explained. "It was my decision, and I&#39;ll take the heat for closing the building at the time."

The university has offered each of the families of the victims - the murdered and the injured - the opportunity to tour the building to help in the healing process, Hincker said. So far, 18 families have walked through Norris Hall with university police escorts.

The building, where 30 of the 32 people were killed by Cho on April 16, houses several laboratories used by various engineering departments and will reopen to faculty, staff and students Monday. Three of those labs, including the university&#39;s only machine shop, were part of the media tour.

"Not being able to get in the building has basically shut down what many researchers on campus used," said David Simmons, the supervisor of the machine shop. "It was a big hindrance to not have it open. These students have been begging to get back in here."

The machine shop, which is also used by researchers at the Corporate Research Center, is the site where law enforcement officers entered Norris Hall on April 16. Cho had chained other entrances shut but not the doors to the shop. Officers shot through a lock on the shop&#39;s large doors and went up the stairs on the northwest side of the building. A 4-inch by 4-inch wooden block now covers that lock.

The four affected classrooms and the other general-use classrooms in the building will be converted into rooms for other uses by the Engineering Science and Mechanics department. See Big Lick U article: <a href=http://www.biglicku.com/blu/Stories/StoryDisplayPage.aspx?title=Tech%27s%20Norris%20Hall%20to%20begin%20phased%20reoccupation&id=350>Tech&#39;s Norris Hall to begin phased reoccupation</a>

None of the classrooms on the second floor are marked with room numbers anymore. Neither do they contain any desks or chairs or any other furniture besides the white boards.

The hallways on the second floor are also bare, in stark contrast to the first floor, where bulletin boards are covered with colorful flyers placed there before the shootings. One of them publicized an April 18 vigil for a National Day of Silence for those "who are forced into silence by violence and fear."

The renovations to Norris thus far have cost approximately $400,000, Hincker said, and included emergency clean-up and general remediation, such as asbestos removal.

The two wings of Norris Hall, named for a former dean of Tech&#39;s school of engineering, were built in the early 1960s and together cost $907,000.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.biglicku.com/blu/Stories/StoryDisplayPage.aspx?Title=Inside%20Norris%20Hall&ID=370> Big Lick U - June 14, 2007</a>

Creator

Amy L. Kovac

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Date

2007-06-27

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Sara Hood

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Chris Winston <Chris.Winston@biglicku.com>

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eng

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Amy L. Kovac, "Inside Norris Hall," in The April 16 Archive, Item #607, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/607 (accessed April 24, 2014).