April 18, 2011 — Work began this week on the University of Virginia's Ruth Caplin Thrust Theatre on Culbreth Road.
The project, designed by William Rawn Associates, is the first of a two-phase expansion of the existing Drama Building. The $13.5 million, two-story theater will be partially below grade in the steep hillside east of the existing Drama Building and adjacent to the Culbreth Road Garage and Ruffin Hall. Connected to the existing Culbreth Theatre lobby and box office, the addition will contain a 7,000-square-foot multi-purpose performance and film theater. The project should be completed by May 2012.
The project will also include approximately 4,000 square feet of renovation to the existing lobby and box office. Performance and stage support space, storage and restrooms make up the balance of this 20,540-square-foot project.
Work began with a construction fence that creates a pedestrian route from the parking garage to Campbell Hall, using the recently constructed Ruffin stairs. Construction traffic will access the site with the flow of Culbreth Road traffic, which should not be interrupted during the early stages of construction.
Several trees that will be removed to accommodate construction will be replaced with mature trees at the end of the construction. The contractors engaged Bartlett Tree Co. to take special measures to protect a large white oak at the top of the hill.
Bartlett will continue to monitor the health of the tree during construction, fertilizing and root-pruning as needed to maintain vigor. The tree will be given a special soil mix and vent tubes will be installed in the fill area over the roots, which were among the procedures used to save a large ash during construction of the underground Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library about10 years ago.
Construction on the Culbreth Road project should take place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday though Friday with occasional work on Saturday.