Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind

Staunton, VA USA

Final Campus Master Plan

The State of Virginia had two primary residential schools for deaf, blind, vision impaired, multi-disabled and emotionally disturbed students. One was in Staunton and the other in Hampton. 

Dickinson + Partners in association with BCWH of Richmond, VA were hired to evaluate and assess both campuses for a possible merger.  Together, both schools had a total of 200 aces and 300 students. The comprehensive study focused on the central campus area, including academics, recreation, and housing facilities. Included were recommendations for conservation, environmental stewardship and landscape enhancements.  Also included were recommendations for campus transportation and wayfinding, campus identity and character guidelines, and specific recommendations for accommodating increased enrollment.

In response to the school’s decision to increase enrollment and to move Hampton students, the team focused on developing a master plan for a new campus.  The team evaluated four sites for new facilities.  Recommendations included an academic and athletic center, a new student housing model to be located in three separate areas on one site, accommodating up to 300 children, and supporting facilities.  In the end, the team recommended keeping the main existing campus at Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton, instead of pursuing a new site

Following the master planning effort, the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Committees on Appropriations and Education and the Senate Committees on Finance and Education and Health approved the team’s recommendation. 

Campus Bubble Diagram


The existing Staunton campus, built in 1838, served as a military hospital for the Union troops during the Civil War and has since served students for over one hundred and fifty years.  The facility planning team was charged with the task of developing plans for major campus renovation to renew it as an up to date facility ready to serve students into the next century. The project includes the preservation of ten existing historic buildings as well as construction of three buildings and an overall reorganization of the campus. A key element in the renovation is the creation of clear, fluid circulation that is accessible for all students throughout campus.