Oct. 1-7, 1999
$10 million Harrison gift to establish history institute at library
Melvin Tolson's Harlem Gallery and other works gathered in new collection
Groundswalk takes step forward; committe OKs Darden expansion

Gies to students: "It's cool to be smart"

Proffit rewarded for superb teaching
150th anniversary of Poe's death
Poet Gwendolyn Brooks and others to celebrate African-American poetry
Virginia 2020 conference to be held Oct. 14-15
Used book sale to be held Oct. 6-8
Hot Links - Virginia State Climatology Office
New scholarly journal offers forum on contemporary culture
Notable - faculty and staff

In Memoriam


Groundswalk takes step forward; committee OKs Darden expansion

By Dan Heuchert

Construction 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Project design is already under way and will be brought before the Board of Visitors for approval in the spring.

Board 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 the University.

"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.

The 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 said.

The 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.

As the priciest of the other five projects brought before the committee, the $40 million Darden expansion drew the most discussion.

The 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.

Board 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.

Architect 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.

The 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.

After 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, he said.

"We want to be the best business school in the world, physically and technologically," Snyder said.

In 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.


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