New Data Science Building Embodies School’s Core Values

April 25, 2024 By Cooper Allen, Cooper Allen,

The University of Virginia’s School of Data Science will usher in a new era Friday with the opening of its new home, one that reflects the school’s mission and values. While Friday’s event is by invitation only, a public event, “Data is Art Presentation and Award Ceremony,” will be held May 8.

The new building is located at the east entrance of the Emmet-Ivy Corridor, a UVA expansion project that also includes a building for the Karsh Institute of Democracy, a hotel and conference center, and a proposed performing and visual arts center.

“This beautiful and unique new space gives students, faculty and staff a home base for research and teaching that intersects with schools and disciplines across Grounds and beyond,” UVA President Jim Ryan said. “This is a historic moment for UVA as we open the doors to our 12th school, and I’m grateful to all those who have made it possible.”

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Design of the building began in January 2020 with the architectural teams of Hopkins Architects, VMDO, and the University’s Office of the Architect, in collaboration with UVA Facilities Management. Gilbane Building Company led the construction which began with the groundbreaking in October 2021.

A guiding philosophy was to create a space that would foster collaboration and promote sustainability.

“Data science now has an identifiable and beautiful home at UVA – a home that exemplifies our culture of excellence, openness, transparency, interdisciplinarity and community engagement,” Phil Bourne, founding dean of the School of Data Science, said.



As a LEED Gold-certified building – one of the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest ratings – the facility features solar panels, vents and windows in individual offices, and active and passive shading systems to limit the need for artificial lighting.

The facility also includes a wellness area and a lactation space, and is the only building on Grounds with all non-gendered restrooms.

A portion of the historic $120 million gift for the establishment of the School from the Quantitative Foundation, the private family foundation of Jaffray and Merrill Woodriff, made the building possible.

Jaffray Woodriff, a 1991 UVA graduate, expressed his excitement about the role the School of Data Science is poised to play in the years ahead as artificial intelligence expands its reach.

A garden added to the upper level of the new building

The U.S. Green Building Council certified the new building as LEED Gold for its sustainable design. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

“As an early data science champion, I’ve been thrilled to see my alma mater create a school and now a home for the study of data science,” Woodriff said. “I am eager to cheer on the University of Virginia’s contributions to the safe and ethical navigation of the murky waters ahead in artificial intelligence.”

An additional $2 million gift from Capital One will anchor the building’s two-story central hub, which will host presentations and events and serve as a gathering place for students, faculty and other leaders in the data science community. 

“With the opening of the new School of Data Science building, including the Capital One Hub, we are thrilled to deepen our partnership to further discovery, share knowledge and make a positive impact on society through collaborative, open and responsible data science research and education,” said Prem Natarajan, chief scientist and head of enterprise artificial intelligence at Capital One and a School of Data Science advisory board member.

Side by side of chairs and open space and the School of Data Science poster on the wall
A guiding philosophy was to create a space that would foster collaboration and promote sustainability. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

The new building will allow visitors to interact with data and view the aesthetic beauty of data stories.

“Data Structure,” designed by SoSo Limited and built by Hypersonic, is viewable from the street and every floor. The interactive sculpture enables visitors to engage with preloaded data sets, telling a range of data stories. It will hang from a skylight at the epicenter of the building’s core and will feature 20 lanterns displaying data flowing through LED lights that span the length of the sculpture.

School leaders have also organized a competition, called Data is ART, inviting artists to submit works from all mediums and formats. Winning submissions will be announced on May 8, and the eight finalists’ creations will be displayed in the new building.

A geometrical and blue view looking up through the building

An interactive sculpture hangs from a skylight featuring data flowing through LED lights. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak)

Today’s opening celebration will include a digital ribbon-cutting ceremony and community event.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is scheduled to deliver remarks, as are Ryan; Bourne; Jaffray Woodriff; Robert Hardie, rector of UVA’s Board of Visitors; Natarajan; and Navya Annapareddy, a doctoral student at the School of Data Science.

Faculty and staff will officially move into the new building after the close of the academic year.

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Cooper Allen

Senior Writer and Editor School of Data Science