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New York Couple Funds Expansion Of U.Va. Architecture School

October 3, 2003 -- Victor and Sono Elmaleh of New York will contribute $1.2 million to the University of Virginia for a major addition to the School of Architecture. A 1942 graduate and longtime benefactor of the school, Victor Elmaleh is chairman of the board of World-Wide Holdings Corp.

Announced Friday at a meeting of the University’s Board of Visitors, the gift will qualify for a $1 million match from the Arts Grounds Challenge Fund, which was established in 2002 by an anonymous donor. The fund was created to encourage others to support the Arts Grounds project, a complex of new, renovated and expanded facilities for the arts at U.Va.

The Elmalehs’ gift completes funding for a new entry tower at the eastern end of Campbell Hall, home of the architecture school. In recognition of the couple’s generosity, the new facility will be named in honor of Victor and Sono Elmaleh.

Designed by U.Va. faculty member and alumnus W. G. Clark in coordination with SMBW Architects of Richmond, the largely glass-walled tower will provide a new entrance and reception area for the School of Architecture. It will also contain flexible gallery and jury space for exhibiting work by students, faculty, and visiting artists and designers.

“The elegantly designed east tower will give the School of Architecture urgently needed jury and classroom spaces and will provide a prominent new main entrance commensurate with the school’s national stature,” said Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture. “This gift from Victor and Sono Elmaleh is truly transformational, and our school-wide community is deeply grateful for their longstanding support and generosity.”

In addition to the gift for the school’s expansion, Mr. and Mrs. Elmaleh have given the school a series of sculptures by celebrated artist and designer Harry Bertoia. The pieces contributed to the University were exhibited in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif., a building designed by Cesar Pelli.

Victor Elmaleh has been a partner in major New York real estate developments, including the Worldwide Plaza, which occupies the site of the original Madison Square Garden. Construction of the project was the subject of an acclaimed PBS series titled “Skyscraper.” Sono Elmaleh is a former ballerina who has danced with the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo and the American Ballet Theater, and later on Broadway.

An accomplished artist, Victor Elmaleh has exhibited his abstract watercolors and collages at the Staempfli Gallery in New York City, Arlene Bujese Gallery in East Hampton, and the University of Virginia Art Museum. In May 2002, an exhibition of his work inaugurated the Victor and Sono Elmaleh Gallery at the School of Architecture, which was named in honor of a generous gift from the couple.

The Elmalehs have benefited the University in many other ways over the years. To commemorate the 250th birthday of U.Va.’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Victor Elmaleh commissioned an hour-long documentary titled “Mr. Jefferson and His University.” The program was screened at alumni celebrations throughout the country in 1993.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to celebrate Victor and Sono Elmaleh and their many years of support for the school and for the University,” said University President John T. Casteen III. “This new facility, with its multi-purpose exhibition areas, will be a center of creative interchange. It will provide our students and faculty with a forum for presenting and examining new directions in design.”

The entry tower made possible by the Elmalehs’ gift is part of a larger plan to expand and renovate Campbell Hall. Other projects in the plan include a new wing of faculty offices along the south side of the building, a new administrative suite, a renovated café, and improved teaching and shop spaces. Among new landscape features will be a roof garden on the west wing of the building and a pedestrian promenade leading to the new east entry.

The School of Architecture is seeking $8.5 million in donor support for its expansion and renovation projects. With the Elmalehs’ gift, the school has some $2 million more to raise toward this goal.

An exhibition on the school’s additions and improvements, all designed by members of the faculty, will be on view in the Victor and Sono Elmaleh Gallery through Oct. 17.

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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