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University Of Virginia Building Projects Attract Proposals From Architects Around The World 

August 29, 2005 -- Architects from the United States, Canada, England, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Mexico and Norway – many of them internationally acclaimed — are vying for a chance to design two new building projects at the University of Virginia.   

The international competition to design a new Center for the Arts, a significant project intended to stand as a major gateway to the U.Va., drew responses from 57 firms. The opportunity to design the South Lawn Project, an extension of the historic Academical Village, that will include a complex of academic buildings for the College of Arts & Sciences, brought 27 responses.

 “It’s not just the numbers — which are extraordinary in themselves — but the quality of the architectural firms that is incredible,” said David J. Neuman, Architect for the University.

Neuman, who for more than 25 years has worked in campus planning and design, said he has never seen such a large and impressive list of architects for higher education building projects.

As he was drawn to join the U.Va. community more than a year and a half ago from Stanford University, Neuman believes many architects admire Jefferson’s historic Academical Village; and also see designing in Jefferson’s shadow as a great opportunity and creative challenge.

In addition, Neuman said, many of today’s architects continue to be influenced by the work of the 16th Century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, whose designs inspired Jefferson when he created the University’s Grounds to be not only a center for learning, but also a learning tool for future students, architectural and otherwise.  

“This is a wonderful, and in some ways unprecedented, opportunity for an architect of significance to be involved in a project here,” Neuman said. “These two projects will have the ability to create visual statements of what we do here in terms of planning, landscape and architecture over the next several decades.”

The lineup of prospective architects for both projects, which reads like a who’s who in architecture, spans the design spectrum. They include: Lord Norman Foster, the world’s leading British architect and the 1999 recipient of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest award; Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University and designer of U.Va.’s Darden School; Thom Mayne, a California-based architect who was recipient of this year’s Pritzker Prize; and Raphael Vinoly, a native of Uruguay now practicing in New York, who has received much recent attention for his many major projects from New York to Tokyo.


Neuman believes the special interest in the competition for the Center for the Arts has much to do with the place that arts centers hold in contemporary society. “Whether it is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, or the San Francisco DeYoung Museum, arts centers have been receiving enormous attention in the architectural world,” he said. “They have become this era’s cathedrals.”

The Center for the Arts, to be comprised of a 1,600-seat performance hall and a new U.Va. Art Museum, is set to become a center of community cultural life. In the new complex, the University will host touring theater shows, dance companies and a major guest-artist series to enhance its academic mission. The new museum will enable the University Art Museum to display a larger percentage of its 10,000-piece collection, to host nationally touring exhibitions, and to provide interdisciplinary cultural and educational offerings.

For the first stage of the Center for the Arts architect selection process, firms were required to show competence to take on this type of project, which includes experience with both museums and concert facilities.  The University will narrow the field to four architects in early September. The next stage of the competition – set to end in late November – will include conceptual design options. 


The design of the South Lawn Project will feature new classrooms with state-of-the-art technology, gathering areas, flexible work spaces and faculty offices organized to foster collaboration. The project calls for buildings that will be designed to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research.

The University screening committee has chosen a short list of candidates through a traditional qualification-based selection process this month. The five firms selected for interview are:  Centerbrook Architects, Centerbrook, Conn.; Foster & Partners/VMDO Architects, London, UK and Charlottesville, Va.; Moore Ruble Yudell/Mitchell Mathews, Santa Monica, Calif. and Charlottesville, Va.; Tai Soo Kim Partners, Hartford, Conn.; and Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York, N.Y.  A site visit occurred Aug. 19; interviews are set for Sept. 20.

Both the Center for the Arts and the South Lawn Project are part of the University’s long-term plan that includes a number of buildings already under way, among them the John Paul Jones Arena, Wilsdorf Hall, new student residences, a clinical cancer center and a new education building in the early stages of design.


For details about the Center for the Arts and South Lawn projects contact the Architect for the University, David J. Neuman, at (434) 924-6015.

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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