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U.Va. Invites Architects To Participate In An International Design Competition To Create A Dramatic Gateway To The University — A New Center For The Arts

June 28, 2005 -- The new Center for the Arts at the University of Virginia will be a signature feature of the Grounds and will elevate its programs in the fine and performing arts to be among the best in the country.

As conceived, the complex initially will encompass two major programs — a new art museum and a new performance center — and will serve as a dramatic gateway to the University and the City of Charlottesville.

To ensure that the new Center for the Arts is designed in the most thoughtful and innovative way, University officials are inviting architects and landscape architecture teams to participate in an international design competition. From initial qualifications submitted by experienced architects who have recently built both museums and performance facilities, the University will select three to four architecture and landscape architecture teams to provide conceptual design options by early fall. U.Va. officials expect to select one firm to provide full architectural and engineering services for the Center for the Arts by November.

The selection committee, led by University President John T. Casteen III, will include faculty, alumni and representatives from the Board of Visitors.

"Holding a competition actively engages various constituencies in the process,” David J. Neuman, Architect for the University, said. “It helps to create a high level of support among all concerned on Grounds, as well as alumni, members of the community and donors. It is our hope that the competition will create further enthusiasm for this exciting project."

The complex will be a short walk from the new John Paul Jones Arena, the University libraries, the expanded Carr’s Hill Arts Grounds and the historic Academical Village, designed by Thomas Jefferson.

The area surrounding the intersection of Emmet Street and Ivy Road, where the new Center for the Arts will be located, will be extensively renovated and landscaped to create a new and dramatic sense of arrival at the Grounds.

By bringing the performing and visual arts to this major crossroads of the Central Grounds, U.Va. officials anticipate that the Center for the Arts will foster collaboration and experimentation across disciplines, enabling students, faculty, local residents and visitors to enjoy the synergy of the University’s arts programs. The site also will offer optimum accessibility to all members of the University community with ample parking nearby.  Moreover, this prominent location affirms the University’s commitment to the arts as central to its educational mission and vision for its future, Neuman said.

The new facilities are central to a plan developed by University President John T. Casteen III’s 2020 Commission on the Fine and Performing Arts to support creative work by internationally acclaimed artists, as well as U.Va. students and faculty.


The new University of Virginia Art Museum is integral to U.Va.’s academic curricula and interdisciplinary initiatives, and provides a cultural and educational resource for the community. The state-of-the-art facility will support the highest level of collections care and presentation, enabling the museum to display a larger percentage of the 10,000-piece collection than is now possible and to host nationally touring exhibitions. A sculpture garden will take advantage of natural features in the adjacent, restored wetland landscape. New classroom, studio, technology and volunteer areas will allow the Art Museum to expand its educational and outreach programs.


The new performance center will house a 1,600-seat concert hall, making it possible to host touring theater shows, dance companies, a major guest-artist series and other performances including events by artists-in-residence that will enhance the project’s educational mission. The center’s size will complement other performance venues at the University and throughout Charlottesville. The facility also will contain two smaller and more flexible performance spaces available for use by the Art Museum, the Drama Department and other arts entities, as well as rehearsal and storage facilities for the University’s new marching and concert bands.


The arts complex is being funded by private support. Funding for the Center for the Arts to date includes a $22 million challenge gift from alumnus Carl Smith and his wife, Hunter Smith, of Charlottesville as well as three $1 million gifts. The total Center for the Arts project, which encompasses more than 127,000 gross square feet, is projected to cost approximately $98 million, according to Neuman.

Within the Center for the Arts, the U.Va. Art Museum and the Performance Center will share public areas and support facilities, thereby increasing efficiency and convenience and reducing building and operating costs. These measures will produce a savings of approximately $14 million in construction costs alone. In addition to a central lobby, the shared amenities will include a café for light meals, dinners and special events; a shop that will carry books and other items related to the arts; a relocated Visitors’ Center; and related terraces, loading and storage areas.

Once work begins, the design and construction of the Center for the Arts is expected to take five years, with a target completion date of year-end 2010.

Long-term plans include a phase-II expansion of the Art Museum for special collections. Adjacent University and University Foundation-owned land also is being considered for an additional academic building related to the arts and for student housing.

For details about the Center for the Arts competition, contact the Architect for the University, David J.  Neuman, at (434) 924-6015, or visit

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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