step forward; committee OKs Darden expansion
By Dan Heuchert
of the Groundswalk could begin as soon as July, members of the
Board of Visitors' Buildings and Grounds Committee learned at
a Sept. 23 meeting.
Groundswalk is a proposed pedestrian pathway that would link the
various elements of the University from North Grounds to Central
Grounds, the Medical Center and the stadium area. The first phase,
from the west side of Emmet Street to the Rugby Road area, is
expected to cost $3.2 million: $1 million from a federal grant
for a bridge across Emmet Street, and the balance from income
on an endowment fund, said Leonard W. Sandridge, the University's
executive vice president and chief financial officer.
In other action, the committee gave final approval to designs
for the Special
Collections Library, a chiller plant to serve the Medical
Center and a student center at the University
of Virginia's College at Wise. It also got its first look
at proposed expansions of the Darden
School and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory building.
All five projects received unanimous approval.
Groundswalk was not on the committee's formal agenda, but Sandridge
broke the news that funding had been identified for the project
and said the University would seek construction authorization
in the 2000 General Assembly. The project will require no state
funds, and such approvals are routinely granted.
design is already under way and will be brought before the Board
of Visitors for approval in the spring.
members Albert H. Small, who chairs the Buildings and Grounds
Committee, and James C. Wheat, the driving forces behind the Groundswalk
project, hailed the funding news as a major step in the life of
"It's one of those things that, once it gets started, will
have a lot to do with a lot of other projects," Small said.
With a new basketball arena and an expanded Carr's Hill arts precinct
under consideration, building the Groundswalk now will make it
easier to define new building sites, he said.
The project was first discussed publicly only in the past two
to three years, but progressed quickly from a pie-in-the-sky vision
to the verge of reality. "It's probably one of those things
where the more people thought about it, the more they saw the
merits of it," Wheat said.
project should renew the pedestrian-friendly environment that
once thrived on Grounds, he said. "We can reduce the need
for high-cost parking in Central Grounds, and get us back to being
a more pedestrian-oriented, walking-oriented Grounds," Wheat
remainder of the Groundswalk project "will be developed as
resources become available," Sandridge said. Some portions
will be included in larger projects, while others may be built
as stand-alone projects.
the priciest of the other five projects brought before the committee,
the $40 million Darden expansion drew the most discussion.
expansion includes five new buildings providing a total of 150,000
square feet: a Darden Center, to include an auditorium, dining
center, kitchen and office space; additions to the faculty office
building, classroom building and residential wing of Sponsors
Hall; and a 500-space parking garage.
member William H. Goodwin questioned the parking facility's proposed
location on the northwest corner of the Darden Grounds, rather
than closer to the current parking area to the south of the main
buildings. He and board colleague Benjamin P.A. Warthen were also
critical of the building's design, presenting a long, low fašade
at ground level as viewed from the Darden School, and exposed
concrete on the rear, facing the bypass.
Adam Gross of Ayers/Saint/Gross and University Architect Samuel
"Pete" Anderson III said the location was chosen to
maintain Darden Drive as the primary approach to the school, rather
than entering a southern parking garage from the planned North
Grounds Connector. Topography was also a factor, they said; the
northwestern site allowed the four-level structure to be built
into a hillside, lowering its profile, whereas building four levels
on the southern site would require either extensive -- and expensive
-- excavation, or a taller structure.
plan was ultimately approved with the provision that the architects
would look at varying the roof line, adding brick to the rear
of the building and splitting the building into two elements.
the vote, board member William G. Crutchfield Jr. lamented the
disparity between the lavish Darden facilities and some others
around Grounds. "I wonder about how faculty [in Central Grounds]
who are working in older buildings in need of renovation feel▓
about the Darden renovation, he said.
Darden dean Edward A. Snyder said that he intended to encourage
more links between the Darden School and the rest of the University,
noting as an example that architecture professor and former Architecture
dean William McDonough is joining the Darden faculty as an adjunct
professor. He predicted, however, that there will always be a
"resource gap" between business schools and the rest
of academe. Darden must compete with the other top business schools
in the nation for students, and its facilities must reflect that,
"We want to be the best business school in the world, physically
and technologically," Snyder said.
a May meeting, committee members had questioned the roof design
of the 65,000-square-foot Special Collections Library building,
to house both the Albert H. Small Special Collections Library
and the David A. Harrison III Institute. Last week, they quickly
settled on a revised roof design and approved the project.