University of Virginia's South Lawn Will Be Dedicated on Friday

October 20, 2010 — Just over four years after its groundbreaking, the South Lawn at the University of Virginia will be dedicated Oct. 22 at 2 p.m.

The most ambitious undertaking on the University's Central Grounds in more than a century, the new complex extends Thomas Jefferson's vision for the Academical Village, serving the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences with an ensemble of classrooms, common spaces and landscapes.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan will be among the speakers for the invitation-only dedication.

Locke Ogens, president of the College Foundation Board of Trustees; John O. Wynne, rector of the University; and Meredith Jung-En Woo, dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will also speak.

Also on the program are the key donors for whom two buildings are named.

Gibson Hall is named for David E. Gibson, a 1962 alumnus of the College of Arts & Sciences, a 1965 alumnus of the School of Law and a former executive vice president of Citicorp/Citibank. Gibson is an emeritus trustee of the Darden Foundation for the Darden Graduate School of Business, a founding sponsor and emeritus trustee of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and a trustee of the Miller Center Foundation for the Miller Center of Public Affairs. A former senior vice president and division head for Citibank, Gibson is retired and running a farm in Orange County.

Nau Hall is named for John L. Nau, who received a bachelor's degree in history from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1968. He is a past president of the College Foundation of the University, served on the executive committee of the University's national capital campaign, was chairman of the College's campaign and served on the board of managers for the Alumni Association. He operates one of the nation's largest beer distributorships in Houston.

The $102.5 million, 116,000-square-foot South Lawn is home to the Corcoran Department of History, the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and the Department of Religious Studies. A 100-foot-wide pedestrian terrace that spans Jefferson Park Avenue links the South Lawn to Central Grounds. At the south end of the terrace, a circular plaza known as the Vista Point sits adjacent to a commons building, with an exterior stairway leading down to gardens. Vista Point will be the dedication site.

The project also preserves as a one-acre park the homestead of Catherine "Kitty" Foster, a free black woman who lived on Venable Lane near the University from 1833 to 1863. The house's footprint is outlined by shadows cast by an overhead structure, and a nearby – and previously unmarked – 32-grave cemetery is outlined in local stones.

The commons building contains lounge spaces and a café with three-story glass walls. The glass walls are framed by two west-facing porches that serve as entrances to Nau and Gibson halls, which house faculty offices, classrooms, student lounges, computer labs, administrative offices, conference rooms and meeting rooms.

The South Lawn was carefully aligned with the Rotunda and was sited to provide the view that Thomas Jefferson would have had from the Rotunda before it was blocked by the construction of Cabell Hall, said David Neuman, architect for the University.

A total of 1,200 tons of structural steel was used in the buildings and plaza. Originally scheduled for completion this November, portions of the South Lawn opened for classes and offices in January, and it was fully occupied during the current fall semester.

The project architects are Moore Ruble Yudell, of Santa Monica, Calif., and Glaserworks, of Cincinnati. The landscape was designed by Cheryl Barton of San Francisco and Walter Hood of Oakland, Calif.

U.Va. is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – or LEED – certification for the project.

— By Marian Anderfuren