Cupola Crowns New COBE Home


The cupola for the College of Business and Economics building weighs more than seven tons.

Radford University’s new College of Business and Economics building marked a milestone Friday as crews set the cupola atop the roof.

Weighing more than seven tons, the aluminum and glass cupola was custom-made for RU’s new signature building by Munns Manufacturing of Tremonton, Utah, and was swung into place by a 200-ton crane. The procedure was directed by Project Superintendent Eric Fleenor of Whiting Turner, the main contractor.

“It is a complex process and a perfect day to make it happen,” said Fleenor, a building veteran of more than 20 years who recently oversaw construction of the Intimidator, the newest roller coaster at Kings Dominion amusement park north of Richmond.

The 116,000-square-foot COBE building is on track to open in fall 2012 with a LEED Silver designation for environmental benefits. Activity slowed noticeably at the building site at Jefferson and Tyler as the cupola rose over the roof and was lowered onto the steel collar to which it is anchored. It now overlooks the RU campus and the city of Radford. 

The cupola is 33 feet tall and designed to commemorate COBE’s longtime home, Whitt Hall, which also is capped by a cupola. From glass panels in the six-sided structure, natural light will stream into the two-story Jeffrey M. Price, Harriet B. Price and Family Grand Hall and Atrium below.  

The setting of the cupola was the culmination of a nearly six-month process that included a five-day transcontinental trip to transport the cupola’s pieces on three oversize trucks from Munns’ fabrication facility in Utah. 

Nov 21, 2011
Don Bowman