Oct. 20-26, 2000
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Displaced club strives to provide same functions for faculty

By Ida Lee Wootten

For the Colonnade Club, U.Va.'s faculty club since 1907, this academic year brings a mixture of good news and bad news.

The good news is that Pavilion VII, the home of the Colonnade Club for more than 90 years, is undergoing a meticulous, multi-million-dollar renovation and restoration that will make the oldest pavilion on the Lawn an elegant, richly appointed, inviting building. The bad news for the club that relies on income from renting the pavilion's guest bedrooms and public rooms for departmental and social events is that the restoration process is taking much longer than originally anticipated. The delay is costing the club both revenue and membership.

Restoration of the pavilion, which was closed for the work in September 1998, was supposed to take two years. However, early this month Murray Howard, curator and architect for the Academical Village, and Robert Dillman, chief facilities officer, told club officers that the pavilion will be closed until mid-April. They had hoped to open a portion of the pavilion's first floor this September, but it is now expected that the entire building, including all nine newly restored bedrooms -- each with private baths, for the first time -- will be available for rental for the 2001 graduation period.

Howard and Dillman attribute the delay to several factors including the unexpected complexity of the project once engineers were able to examine conditions underneath the building as well as inside the walls, floors and ceilings ­ conditions that led to several periods of redesign during construction. It has also been difficult to find suitable workers because of the robust economy and other construction and maintenance projects at U.Va. Opening the building in two stages would have added significantly in cost and would have further delayed the project, Dillman said.

For information on the Colonnade Faculty Club, see http://www.virgin-ia.edu/~colonnad/

Contact Erin Spencer at 924-3532 or via e-mail to es9c@virginia.edu

In addition, because Pavilion VII is a historic building used extensively by the public, the renovation project includes refitting it to satisfy all applicable codes, which also requires more complex work. As a consequence, opening a portion of the building while the remainder was still under construction proved infeasible.

"In short, Pavilion VII has proven to be very different from the 'standard' pavilion restoration," Howard said.

The club's leaders are convinced that the delay now will help ensure the organization's vitality in the future. "Being a Colonnade Club member and enjoying the affiliation with Pavilion VII has been a prized part of my life at U.Va.," said Charles Dunkl, mathematics professor and club president. "One has to be philosophical about a three-year project at a 175-year-old university. Doing the job properly takes time."

Since 1998 when the club vacated the pavilion, it has lost more than $275,000 in income from overnight guests and departments renting the facility. The loss continues at a rate of $12,000 for each month the pavilion remains closed.

Open to members of the teaching, research and administrative faculty at an annual cost of $117, the club has experienced dwindling membership since the pavilion closed. Membership among resident faculty and administrators has dropped from 348 in 1998 to 325 now. (Total membership, which includes non-resident members and those holding honorary, emeritus and life status, numbers 776 currently.)

In anticipation of a two-year absence from the pavilion, club leadership undertook a fund-raising campaign that has helped cover operating costs. Determined not to reduce the number of social events the club offers, the organization's leaders have found new venues and have added new activities, such as family cookouts prior to U.Va. athletic competitions at Klöckner Stadium. Also, two years ago the club began offering free one-year memberships to new faculty to introduce them to the extended variety of events.

To compensate for the loss of guest bedrooms in the pavilion, the club's management negotiated discounted rates for members at local hotels, such as the Boar's Head Inn, English Inn and Omni Hotel. Members can also enjoy reasonable rates at any of the 100 faculty clubs nationwide and abroad.

Because numerous members enjoyed the club's complimentary morning coffee and afternoon tea while perusing periodicals in the pavilion's reading room, the club now provides a lounge in Hotel E for that purpose. To communicate these changes, the club publishes frequent newsletters for its members.


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