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U.Va. Selects Boston Architects Schwartz/Silver To Design New Studio Art Building

June 2, 2003 -- The University of Virginia has selected Schwartz/Silver Architects of Boston to design its new studio art building, representing the first new building on the Arts Grounds, an ambitious plan by the University to develop new and expanded facilities for the arts in and around the Carr’s Hill area.

The idea of a portion of the Grounds devoted to visual and performing arts was a chief recommendation of the Virginia 2020 Fine and Performing Arts Commission, appointed by President John T. Casteen III. The commission laid out plans for strengthening arts programs and meeting the growing demand for facilities.

The two-phase program for the building calls for a 46,000-square-foot, three-level facility that will contain multiple studios, including drawing, painting and sculpture, as well as classroom and exhibition space.

Financed with $9 million appropriated by the Virginia General Assembly and $3.5 million from the Peter B. and Adeline W. Ruffin Foundation, the studio art building will be named Ruffin Hall, pending approval by the Board of Visitors. As the first new structure on the Arts Grounds, it will be an architectural bellwether of those to follow.

“Schwartz/Silver has experience designing studio art buildings at Cornell and Louisiana State,” said William Bennett, chairman of U.Va.’s studio art program and a member of the selection committee that chose Schwartz/Silver to design the project.

“Their experience with challenging sites in proximity to traditional buildings complements the transitional design philosophy that is the hallmark of the University’s architectural guidelines for the Arts Grounds.”

Warren R. Schwartz, founding principal of Schwartz/Silver Architects and lead designer on the project, said, “ No institution so closely aligns its identity with its buildings. To design on the Grounds is truly an honor few architects are granted.”

The studio art building will be located on the eastern edge of a green quadrangle modeled after Jefferson’s plan for the Lawn. To be known as the Arts Common, this open area will be defined by three existing buildings: Campbell Hall, the School of Architecture, on the south; what is now the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library on the east; and the Drama Building, home of the the Culbreth and Helms theaters, on the west. These buildings were designed in the modernist New England Academic style prevalent in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The architecture of the studio art building will act as a transition between these larger scale institutional buildings and the residential scale and more traditional Jeffersonian-style architecture along Rugby Road, a major approach to Jefferson’s Rotunda.

In addition to the studio art facility, the completed Arts Grounds will include new buildings for the McIntire Department of Music and the University Art Museum and a new arts library combining collections in art, architecture, music and drama. The plan also encompasses expansion of the Drama Building and the School of Architecture and the restoration of Fayerweather Hall for the art history program.

Nearby will be a new $47 million performing arts center, for which architectural guidelines have been approved. In April the University announced that Carl and Hunter Smith of Charlottesville had committed $22 million to the project.

Design work for the studio art building has commenced, and construction is scheduled to begin by fall 2004, with occupancy by the beginning of 2006.

Schwartz/Silver Architects is an award-winning firm founded by Warren Schwartz and Robert H. Silver in 1980. They are also working on another project at the University, the $4.5 million renovation of McKim, Mead & White’s 1896 Cocke Hall on the south end of the Lawn.

Other current Schwartz/Silver academic commissions include the Humanities Center at Princeton University and the Arts Block, a complex for the visual and performing arts being built jointly by the state of Louisiana, Louisiana State University, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the city of Baton Rouge.

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Monday, 02-Jun-2003 15:07:22 EDT
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