Friday, September 09, 2005
Virginia Tech launches Hokie Home line
The VT flags and maroon-and-orange painted truck and tailgating trailer are nice, but wouldn't they look better in front of a matching house? If you agree, Virginia Tech and a Roanoke architecture firm have a home design for you - a "Hokie Home," to be precise.
That's right. VT alums nostalgic for their years surrounded by Hokie stone and Tech's "collegiate Gothic" buildings will now be able to live year-round in their own Hokie-styled castle or cottage.
Designs feature the towers, gables, archways and, of course, the grayish limestone that clads most Tech buildings.
University officials, who will unveil the first of several Hokie Home designs today, admit the idea of a Virginia Tech-licensed house is a bit audacious. In fact, it would be the nation's first line of homes branded by a specific college.
But Tech believes it may help launch a national trend.
"In talking with other people in the collegiate licensing industry, they think this will be huge," Locke White, director of licensing and trademarks at Tech, said Thursday. "And it's always fun to be first."
So what exactly makes a home a Hokie Home?
Architects at Balzer and Associates say Hokie Homes will borrow aspects of the "collegiate Gothic" architectural style that gives Tech's campus a distinct atmosphere. But these elements and styles, such as the stone masonry and lofty interior rooms, will be reinterpreted for a contemporary home.
Craig Balzer, the firm's president, said a group of six to eight architects - most of them Tech graduates - spent several months on campus researching the aspects of Tech's campus and buildings that many alumni are most likely to remember.
Balzer sees this project as following in the path of Southern Living magazine, which has launched a highly successful line of home designs. He said several other universities that have heard about Tech's home-licensing idea have contacted his firm, although he declined to name names.
"The market we see for this concept ... is there are a lot of people out there who might enjoy some aspect of their house being designed with some of the things they remember about their four, five or six years they spent on campus," said Balzer, a 1979 Tech graduate.
The home design being unveiled today is the largest of four developed by the firm. The Stonehaven house features the sloped roofs, bay windows, arched doorways and long, skinny windows found on many Tech buildings.
Inside there's a great hall, a dining terrace, pavilion, two parlors, guest suites and covered walkway to the garage. Balzer declined to provide cost estimates for a Stonehaven house, which he called a "McMansion."
But the firm has also developed plans for less-costly, more practical homes suitable for either a small family or empty-nesters.
For those Tech fans not interested in an entire house, Balzer's firm plans to offer plenty of Hokie add-ons, such as a gazebo modeled after the one near the Duck Pond, or a pool cabana or garden patios with Tech themes.
"That's a humongous house," White said looking at the Stonehaven plans. "But then again, you don't have to go with the huge house. If you want to go with a gazebo or a back porch or something, there will be a lot of choices."
Like many of Tech's off-beat marketing deals, the Hokie Homes idea originated with White.
Past products have included a Hokie-Edition SUV, Hokie Bird wine and even salad dressing. All of Tech's licensed products brought in $1.1 million for scholarships last fiscal year - a record for the university.
While he admits Hokie homes are "pretty wild," White believes there is a market out there.
White hopes so, because 4 percent of any home-design sales would come back to Virginia Tech in the form of royalties.