The western approach to the University of Virginia could get a lot greener.
Architect for the University Alice Raucher recently presented to the Board of Visitors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee a plan to make the northwest quadrant of the University more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, with more green space formed by strategically placed structures. The proposal would also improve the connections between Central and North Grounds.
The University is considering major changes on the north side of Ivy Road from the Cavalier Inn to the intersection of Ivy and Copeley roads and back to the railroad tracks. This area, most of which is owned by the University or the University Foundation, contains the Cavalier Inn, the Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage and several small businesses.
“The site at the Ivy/Emmet corner has been the subject of previous studies, but this is the first time we are looking at the entire 14-acre parcel,” Raucher said.
The Board of Visitors wants to enhance the connectivity of the area within the University and for the Charlottesville community; maximize the green space; accommodate existing current transportation, parking and stormwater while developing the site to its maximum potential; promote viable development and University support activities; and provide appropriate screening of the parking garage.
The University is also collaborating with the City of Charlottesville on a plan, funded by $12.1 million in state transportation funds, to improve pedestrian and bicycle connections and safety; consolidate bus stop locations; construct a new shared-use path through the railroad trestle and as well as traffic and pedestrian improvements from Arlington Boulevard to the Ivy/Emmet intersection. Under the terms of the funding, the grant money has to be spent within five years.
Raucher said the University plan, which the Board of Visitors will take up in December, is the first phase of a multi-phase project. Raucher said the design of buildings on the parcel and their ultimate use will come in later phases of the project.
“If the board endorses this, we will be authorized to proceed with Phase I of the master plan, and to investigate the best program uses,” Raucher said. “These aren’t isolated projects. We are looking at the site in the context of our academic space study and the entire Grounds Plan.”
Phase I, which concentrates on the streetscape along Ivy Road and Emmet Street and the green space on the site, calls for the demolition of the Cavalier Inn, along with a small former service station to its north and a brick house to its west. The house, which currently contains University offices, has no significant historical value. The green space will also be part of the stormwater management plan, in what Raucher called “a working landscape,” not unlike what was developed at the Dell.
The intersection of Emmet Street, Ivy Road and University Avenue would be modified for safer pedestrian crossing, bicycle lanes and more efficient traffic passage. Under the proposed design, the sidewalks will be wider, with green buffers between the sidewalks and vehicle traffic lanes.
The plan also calls for greater utilization of the existing 1,200-space parking garage, which is not being utilized to capacity now, and the elimination of current surface parking spots.
“We want to reduce, not increase, the amount of parking on site,” Raucher said. “The asphalt parking lots are not going to be there; there will be less traffic on the site and fewer curb cuts. That will contribute to a safer pedestrian street.”
The Office of the Architect, the UVA Foundation and Facilities Management have been working on this project with DumontJanks of Boston, the designers and prime consultants; Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. of Richmond, as the traffic engineering consultant; Biohabitats of Baltimore, as the stormwater and environmental consultant; and Landwise of Boston, a market research consultant.