WINCHESTER, Va. — Shenandoah University is connecting the future to the past by repurposing an armory on its main campus in Winchester — where National Guard soldiers once trained before D-Day — into a Hub for Innovators, Veterans and Entrepreneurs: the HIVE.
A ceremonial groundbreaking is planned for Veterans Day to mark the armory’s historic significance. The brick structure, once Virginia’s oldest active armory, opened in 1940 and housed the Virginia National Guard unit (116th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion) that participated in D-Day.
“This building will be a game changer for economic development in the Northern Valley and for Shenandoah University and its partners,” says Shenandoah University’s President Tracy Fitzsimmons.
The HIVE will house a veterans’ center, job training, a business incubator, and community gathering areas — all centered on technology fields ranging from cybersecurity to augmented and virtual reality to data analytics and artificial intelligence. It will create pathways to “emerging technologies and jobs that we can only imagine in a space with a deep history,” says Provost Cameron McCoy.
The architect for the project is ESa, based in Nashville, Tennessee, and the general contractor is Virginia-based Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc.
The rehabilitation includes a yearlong effort to stabilize the 18,000-square-foot building, remove asbestos and install new systems. The design will feature open, flexible spaces with glass cubicles to encourage collaboration and will preserve the architecture and historic elements.
The HIVE will serve as the information technology anchor for the area, building on partnerships already in place, says Frederick White, an executive fellow at the school and an analyst with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Shenandoah University’s HIVE project will offer services in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Winchester, the counties of Frederick and Clarke, and local educational entities like Laurel Ridge Community College and the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center (part of the Winchester City Public Schools), as well as other local organizations and private investors.
The HIVE is scheduled to open in 2024.