Another Step Closer: New Arts Center, Shannon Court at the Rotunda

June 7, 2024
Side by side of Center for Arts digital drawings

The proposed Center for the Arts and an updated Shannon Court at the Rotunda are two areas considered by the Buildings and Grounds Committee. (Center for the Arts image by Office of the Architect for the University; Shannon Court image by Wolf Josey Landscape Architects. Illustration by John DiJulio, University Communications)

A new University of Virginia arts center has moved a step closer to reality.

On Friday, members of the UVA Board of Visitors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee approved the concept, site and design guidelines for the proposed Center for the Arts in the Emmet-Ivy Corridor.

The proposed center will wrap around the south and east sides of the existing parking garage and mirror the footprint of the Virginia Guesthouse hotel and conference center to the west, currently under construction.

“The building will occupy an important and highly visible site in the corridor, perpendicular to the new School of Data Science, providing a public face along Emmet Street and fronting the 20-foot-wide pedestrian promenade in front of the storm water pond,” said Alice Raucher, architect for the University, who presented the plans to the board members.

New Proof We Can Use Nature To Heal Nature, Learn More
New Proof We Can Use Nature To Heal Nature, Learn More

The Center for the Arts will be home to the Tessa and Richard Ader Performing Arts Center, The Fralin Museum of Art, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection and the Department of Music.

Raucher, who plans to present the building’s schematic designs to the full board in September, said the building will feature a 1,200-seat academic and community performing arts venue. 

The arts center will join an ensemble of buildings intended to create a collective sense of community, offer shared resources and build on a tradition of structures and mixed uses in a harmonious relationship with the landscape.

Rotunda Landscaping

Buildings and Grounds Committee members also reviewed a design update for Shannon Court at the Rotunda. Named after former University President Edgar Shannon, the plaza – located to the immediate west of the Rotunda – was designed as an active outdoor space connected to a multipurpose room, which hosts numerous events during the year. 

On the left, an overhead map of the center, on the right a digital image of the center
The proposed Center for the Arts, which will mirror the footprint of the Virginia Guesthouse hotel and conference center to the west, will include the Tessa and Richard Ader Performing Arts Center. (Center for the Arts images by Office of the Architect for the University. Illustration by John DiJulio, University Communications)

“The design update for the Shannon Court retains the symmetrical design of the 2016 Rotunda renovation plan and creates a central open area for a wide variety of formal and informal events to support the programming in the adjacent multipurpose room,” Raucher said. “It adds new planting beds, with both fixed and flexible seating. The plantings will be ornamental and appropriately scaled for the space.”

Raucher said the plan calls for a rich palette of materials, consistent with the Rotunda’s overall landscape. The plans call for recreating the original 1978 dedication plaque to Shannon.

“We are planning to finish the drawings this year and construct the court next summer,” Raucher said.

Other Actions

• Board members also approved naming the arboretum at the Darden School of Business after George S. Tahija, a 1986 Darden alumnus currently residing in Singapore, where he is director of P.T. Austindo Nusantara Jaya, a holding company involved in the cultivation and distribution of palm oil products and various sustainable food crops.

An overview shot of the new arboretum
The newly named George S. Tahija Arboretum at the Darden School of Business. (Photo by Dan Addison)

Tahija and his wife Laurel have been donors to the Darden School for decades and have supported a wide variety of initiatives through their family’s Rainbow Foundation. They have donated to the Darden Hotel Project; the George and Laurel Tahija Fund for Transformational Leadership and Learning; the Darden Annual Fund; and the Robert F. Bruner Dean’s Fund for Faculty Excellence. Tahija has served on the Darden Dean’s Global Advisory Committee and as a Darden School Foundation Trustee.

• Board members also reviewed the schematic designs for the North Grounds Parking Garage.

A digital image of people crossing a crosswalk to get to the center
The North Grounds Parking Garage, located near the intersection of Massie and Copeley roads, will serve the John Paul Jones Arena, athletic events and University commuters. (Image by Eskew Dumez Ripple Architects. Illustration by John DiJulio, University Communications.)

Approved in 2022, the six-level, 1,100-space parking garage will be located near the intersection of Massie and Copeley roads to serve the John Paul Jones Arena, athletic events and University commuters. The project design team was led by Eskew Dumez Ripple Architects, collaborating with the Architect for the University and the director of parking and transportation, along with representatives from the Athletics Department, the John Paul Jones Arena and Facilities Management. 

The garage will have a multimodal transit hub, covered bicycle storage and e-bike charging stations, and energy-efficient lighting with daylight and occupancy sensors. Two percent of the parking spaces will be equipped with electric vehicle charging stations, with capacity for an additional 2%; the building also will include charging infrastructure for electric buses. The roof is also designed for future photovoltaic systems. The garage will require no mechanical ventilation and have bird-safe glass.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications