Dec. 7-13, 2001
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U.Va. selects award-winning New York architect firm for South Lawn Project
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Ed Ayers
Rebecca Arrington

The South Lawn Project allows us to re-imagine the humanities and social sciences and also the sciences and arts at U.Va. It’s an almost unprecedented possibility to rethink what the liberal arts can be for the next century.

Edward L. Ayers
Dean of Arts & Sciences

U.Va. selects award-winning New York architect firm for South Lawn Project

By Jane Ford

The University has selected Polshek Partnership, an award-winning New York City architecture firm, to design its $125 million, 285,000-square-foot South Lawn Project.

The most ambitious construction undertaking on the Central Grounds in nearly a century, the project will yield two new buildings that will strengthen the school’s academic core and reinforce the atmosphere of community that characterizes the U.Va. undergraduate experience.

The project also will include renovations to Rouss and Cocke halls. An architect for that phase of the project has not yet been selected.

Polshek Partnership, best known for the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City — an iconic, glass-enclosed sphere — was chosen because of its reputation for collaborating with clients to support their goals and visions.

“U.Va. has a distinct sense of who they are and how they would like to evolve,” said Timothy Hartung, the firm’s partner in charge of the project and a member of the design team, along with James Polshek and Todd Schliemann. “It is an honor to be traveling down a path with the College of Arts & Sciences to create a new paradigm for education.”

Polshek Partnership was founded in 1963 by James Stewart Polshek. In 1992, the partnership received the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor to an architectural practice, the Architecture Firm Award.

Over the past 38 years, the firm has designed hundreds of projects for cultural, scientific, educational and governmental institutions, including the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark.

The U.Va. plan calls for new buildings that will be designed and positioned to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research. They will house classrooms with state-of-the-art technology, spaces for student and faculty interaction, flexible work areas and faculty offices organized to promote collaboration.

“The South Lawn Project allows us to re-imagine the humanities and social sciences and also the sciences and arts at U.Va.,” said Edward L. Ayers, dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History. “It’s an almost unprecedented possibility to rethink what the liberal arts can be for the next century.”

Over the past 10 years there has been a 10 percent increase in the student population, and more growth is expected. Current facilities are already inadequate.

The South Lawn Project calls for New Cabell Hall, built in 1950 and used by 6,000 students daily, to be demolished. New buildings with nearly double the space will be constructed on the New Cabell Hall site and across Jefferson Park Avenue, where there is now a parking lot.

“A large part of the challenge will be to create a destination and a connection back to Old Cabell and the Academical Village,” Hartung said.

With a location at the geographic and academic convergence of the sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences and medicine, Ayers said, the South Lawn Project will connect the liberal arts with related U.Va. programs and centers to promote collaboration beyond the liberal arts disciplines.

Funding will come from public and private sources through the partnership of the Board of Visitors and the College Foundation, which jointly launched the project and will shepherd it through completion.

Construction is expected to begin in 2003 and continue through 2007.


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