James Madison University Sonner Hall


Special Features

This 20,382-square-foot office building was built on the shores of Newman Lake on the JMU campus. The project represented JMU’s first contemporary design project that strayed from the very traditional bluestone buildings on the original campus and the brick structures on the lower campus. Sonner Hall features traditional wood framing with 12’ tall pressuretreated wall framing and a combination of brick veneer, cedar siding, and EIFS cornice and gable detailing. The roof system is comprised of wood trusses with asphalt shingles and concealed gutters.

Challenges to construction of the project included footings and foundations below the water table of Newman Lake. Special effort was made by Nielsen crews to assure performance results in these areas. Other unusual work included cast-in-place “round” concrete stair towers and a large raised balcony overlooking the lake, supported by two large brick columns. Interior features of the project include vaulted ceilings, decorative lobby stairs, and a complete kitchen and social hall overlooking the lake on the upper level.

The Nielsen Partnership

Nielsen’s management team worked closely with the architect and owner to assure that this “new” look for JMU brought forth a modern, contemporary facility, with the same quality and endurance of the original bluestone buildings constructed by Nielsen since 1908.