Arts Grounds Precinct To Be Named for the Casteens

Digital rendering of a glass building with  people walking inside, outside, and on its roof

Illustration of the expansion of the Drama Building, part of the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

March 8, 2010 — As it embarks on a $6.3 million campaign for the expansion of the Drama Building, the University of Virginia is planning to name the arts precinct on Grounds for President John T. Casteen III and his wife, Betsy Casteen.

The area will be known as the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds. The naming requires the approval of the Board of Visitors.

Casteen will step down on Aug. 1 after 20 years as U.Va. president. Gordon F. Rainey Jr., an alumnus and chairman of the Campaign for the University of Virginia, said naming the Arts Grounds in honor of the Casteens "will create an enduring testament to their dedication to the University and the arts as we enter the final phase of the University's $3 billion campaign."

"In 1998, John launched an initiative to ensure that the arts hold a central place in the University experience," Rainey said. "Under his leadership, the Arts Grounds Project is bringing all of the fine and performing arts programs together to establish a vibrant new center of University and community life."

The Arts Grounds precinct is located west of Rugby Road in the vicinity of Carr's Hill.

Elizabeth Hutton Turner, vice provost for the arts, calls the development of the Arts Grounds "a culminating moment for the arts at the University of Virginia."

"In 20 years – really in one generation – we have created a marvelous new area of access for the arts," she said.

Gifts to the Arts Grounds project will complete the first phase of the Drama Building expansion, which will accommodate growth of the University's performing arts programs. The expansion includes a thrust-stage theater, rooftop terrace and glass-enclosed lobby connecting the new theater with the Helms and Culbreth theaters.

"With a new thrust theater, we will have a new and much-needed performance space," Turner said.
During Casteen's tenure, the Arts Grounds grew to comprise several new and renovated facilities:

-- a restored Fayerweather Hall for the art history program;
-- a renovated and expanded Campbell Hall for the School of Architecture;
-- renovated galleries in the Bayly Building for the University of Virginia Art Museum;
-- Ruffin Hall for studio art;
-- the Culbreth Road garage.

A new music rehearsal hall, the Arts Common and a museum expansion are also part of the Arts Grounds plan.

The Arts Grounds have already created a sense of community in the schools and departments near Carr's Hill. "Students and faculty are planning more shared social events, but we've also begun to plan new academic programs involving collaborations among the arts departments housed or soon to be housed on Carr's Hill," Lawrence Goedde, chairman of the McIntire Department of Art, said.

Said Turner: "Here is where you will see the imagination of the University at work exploring new concepts, envisioning the future."  

Rainey said the project reflects concepts prevalent in the Academical Village, with buildings clustered around an "open square of grass and trees" and walkways and public spaces that foster a spirit of community among students, faculty, visiting artists and patrons.

"In the years ahead, the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds will serve as a reminder of their commitment to offering superb programs in the arts and providing an environment in which creative and artistic endeavor will thrive," he said.

For information, call 434-924-7306 or visit the campaign Web site.

Media Contact