Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Matt Kelly:
The ceremonial groundbreaking, with University officials turning over soil in a sandbox filled with toys, took place next to the actual construction site, between the Lee Street parking garage and West Main Street, next to the Blake Building.
The $141 million project, which will centralize medical care for children, will be a 200,000-square-foot, seven-story complex housing treatment areas, outpatient services and research.
"I think this is a great victory," University President Teresa A. Sullivan said after the ceremony. "People have been working a long time on this, and it will benefit children that have not even been born yet. This will be a great facility and a beacon of hope for parents with children who are ill."
The building has been named for Barry and the late William "Bill" Battle, two advocates of children's health care in central Virginia.
Bill Battle, who passed away in 2008, was a member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors and chair of the Ivy Foundation, which in 2006 made a $45 million gift to the Health System for clinical care and research. That donation included the $15 million lead gift for the children's facility.
Barry Battle, Bill's wife, has been involved with the U.Va. Children's Hospital for more than 20 years. She chaired the Children's Hospital Committee when it was created in the 1980s, as well as the first Children's Hospital telethon. She is part of the U.Va. Children's Hospital Campaign Steering Committee, where her efforts continue to advance children's health in the area.
R. Edward Howell, vice president and chief executive officer of the Medical Center, said the project had been in the works for 30 years. "The region and the state deserve a children's hospital," he said.
The new facility will provide vital resources to the community, Sullivan said in her remarks. "Every year we have more than 100,000 outpatient visits from children across Virginia, with every conceivable difficulty," she said.
Rector John O. Wynne said in his remarks that he had known the Battle family for years and that he had also known children in his own family who had required medical care.
Dr. Robert Battle, son of Bill and Barry Battle, who practices cardiovascular medicine, spoke on behalf of the family and praised his mother for her efforts in getting the hospital going.
"This is a great example of what can happen with women in leadership and stewardship roles," he said.
The hospital will have 75 examination rooms, "treatment neighborhoods" which will group together related services and specialists, and a "comfortable and cheerful environment" for the children's enjoyment, as well as encouraging learning and discovery.
The building, designed Odell and Associates/Stanley Beaman Sears architects, is scheduled to be completed in 2014.