Conceptual Sketches for South Lawn Project Rolled Out at University of Virginia's Board of Visitors Meeting

January 27, 2006 — Conceptual sketches for phase one of the South Lawn project were presented to the Board of Visitors Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting on Jan. 20. The most ambitious construction undertaking on U.Va.’s Central Grounds in nearly a century, the South Lawn Project will yield new buildings that will strengthen the school’s academic core and reinforce the atmosphere of community that characterizes the U.Va. undergraduate experience. It will feature new classrooms with state-of-the-art technology, gathering areas, flexible workspaces and faculty offices organized to foster collaboration.

Phase one of the South Lawn project involves new classroom buildings to be built just south of Jefferson Park Avenue with a wide terrace spanning the road and connecting the new construction to the New Cabell Hall vicinity. Architect for the University David Neuman presented to the board committee the phase one conceptual plans, drawn by Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners of Santa Monica, Calif.

Two features of previous South Lawn concept drawings — a terrace in line with the long axis of the Lawn, and restoring the view south from the Lawn — were the starting points for the current conceptual drawings.

Neuman noted that the South Lawn area is an incredibly difficult site, because it is divided by a major road, contains rock outcroppings and a buried stream, and slopes steeply with an 80-foot change in elevation.

During his presentation, Neuman passed out his newly written “University of Virginia Design Guide,” which makes use of numerous pictures and sketches of buildings and sites around Grounds to illustrate various design themes found in the University’s architecture. The guide was created “to inform and inspire architects and others interested on how to best contribute to the continuing architectural legacy of this University” (from the foreword).

Neuman plans to “work and rework” the South Lawn concept drawings to refine the subtle nuances. This is a process that Jefferson employed in his own designing, Neuman said, as is evidenced in the founder’s correspondence with U.S. Capitol architects William Thornton and Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Neuman contrasted the ‘working and reworking’ design approach with a more linear design process.