The Rotunda is undergoing its most comprehensive renovation since it was rebuilt by McKim, Mead and White from 1895 to 1898.
ALSO >Fourth-year Walker McKusick offers a student’s view of the Rotunda and the current renovation.
ALSO >Architect for the University David Neuman speaks about the need for renovation and repair of the Rotunda.
Preserving the Heart of the Grounds
The capitals atop the Rotunda’s columns were shrouded in protective netting after it was discovered that they were crumbling from age and a variety of other issues.
Thomas Jefferson intended the Rotunda, which he called a “temple of knowledge,” to be the centerpiece of the Academical Village; it housed the heart of the University operations—the library and classrooms. The Rotunda and associated grounds are now in critical need of extensive repairs. The renovation, which began in May 2012, will span several years.
What specific repairs and renovations are being done?
The Rotunda renovation includes extensive infrastructure upgrades and exterior repairs. The current stage is addressing conditions that threaten the building’s integrity and include significant roof repairs, column capital restoration, masonry repairs, and window restoration. Panels in the Dome Room will be replaced with a better acoustical control system; lightning protection will be greatly improved; and a new elevator installed.
Later stages of the project will entail improvements to the Rotunda’s interior infrastructure and restoration of the surrounding landscape. The building’s aging infrastructure, including plumbing, electrical, audio/visual, heating/air conditioning, and fire protection, will be upgraded. Portions of the building may be adapted to allow for classroom use. The current total estimated cost is $50.6 million.
How will the University pay for the Rotunda renovation?
The University envisions the $50.6 million project as a private-public effort. A small portion of the University’s endowment and annual gift funding is available for historic preservation projects such as the Rotunda renovation and is being used to launch the initial planning and early execution of the renovation’s multiple phases. The majority of the private share of the project will be raised through the University’s fundraising efforts.
University leaders have also worked to secure support in the public arena. In late 2010 U.Va. petitioned the Virginia General Assembly to provide its share of the Rotunda renovation. In April 2011 the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to allocate $2.7 million for repairs to the roof of the Rotunda. The remainder of the $26 million request to the state is pending further legislative action.