U.Va. to Break Ground on April 17 on Science and Engineering Buildings

Darrell Kauric, project manager from the architectural firm of Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson, talks at the April 17 groundbreaking about the challenges of meshing high-tech, state-of-the-art buildings with U.Va.’s traditional style.

April 8, 2009 — The University of Virginia will hold a joint groundbreaking celebration on April 17 at 3 p.m. for two buildings that will serve as an engineering and science gateway to the University and support faculty and student research.

Rice Hall, the School of Engineering and Applied Science's information technology engineering building, and the Physical and Life Sciences building for the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will advance engineering and the sciences at U.Va., said President John T. Casteen III.
"These two buildings signify that the priorities set out by the Commission on the Future of the University – in regards to establishing the University as a research leader – are being followed in a timely manner," Casteen said.

Located at the corner of Whitehead and Stadium roads, Rice Hall will provide state-of-the-art facilities for collaborative researchers throughout the Engineering School and across Grounds. The building will make possible research in areas such as high-performance computing, computer visualization, information assurance, computer security, energy conservation, wireless communications, telemedicine, virtual reality, distributed multimedia and distance learning.

Plans for the building include a courtyard, cyber-lounge, 150-seat auditorium, a Visualization Lab for Scientific Computing, a Computer Vision and Graphics Lab, facilities to support distance education, workrooms, study areas, conference rooms and flexible teaching and research labs. The six-story structure, comprising 100,000 gross square feet, is being constructed using sustainable design principles. It is scheduled for occupancy in fall 2011.

"This building is a huge step forward for the Engineering School in the area of information technology engineering," said James H. Aylor, dean of the Engineering School.

"With labs and study areas designed for collaborative research and facilities to enhance our distance-education programs, this building will benefit the Engineering School, the University and citizens of the Commonwealth for years to come."

The construction of Rice Hall was made possible by a lead gift of $10 million from Paul G. Rice, a 1975 alumnus of the Engineering School, and Gina J. Rice through the Rice Family Foundation, and with additional support from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"We are especially grateful to Paul and Gina Rice for their splendid gift to the School of Engineering – one of the largest ever to the school," Casteen said. "Without the philanthropic support of the University's generous alumni and friends, such momentum would not be possible."

Additional gifts and pledges were made by alumni and friends, including:

  • Lee Ainslie III, a 1986 Engineering alumnus;
  • Marguerite Davis, a 1985 graduate of Engineering, and Norwood Davis, a 1966 Law School alumnus;
  • Douglas J. and Mary L. Erwin;
  • David A. Kettler, a 1967 U.Va. graduate;
  • Linwood Lacy Jr., an Engineering graduate in 1967 and 1969;
  • Elis Olsson, a 1986 Engineering alumnus, and the Olsson Family;
  • Peyton Owen, a 1979 Engineering graduate;
  • Michael Pausic, a 1986 Engineering alumnus;
  • Richard Ramsey, a 1977 Engineering alumnus;
  • Robert Wadsworth, 1983 Engineering alumnus.

The Physical and Life Sciences Building will create new laboratory space for the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Located on Geldard Drive adjacent to the Chemistry Building and Gilmer Hall, the building provides much needed state-of-the-art wet lab and low-vibration space designed for flexible, interdisciplinary use.

At five stories and roughly 100,000 square feet, the new building will offer modern research laboratory space for more than two dozen faculty members and their research groups, largely in the life sciences. The building will also house scientific equipment and facilities shared by research teams in the College and other parts of the University. The building is scheduled for occupancy in fall 2011.

"This new laboratory building is an essential investment in the future of our research program in the sciences," said Meredith Jung-En Woo, dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. "Its flexible lab space and advanced instruments will support the work of Arts & Sciences faculty – and other scholars from across Grounds – as they push the frontiers of science and seek solutions to many of the most pressing issues of our age."

Both buildings were designed by the architectural firm of Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson of Pittsburgh. W.M. Jordan Company of Richmond is managing the construction. They will be LEED certified at the silver level, recognizing their sustainable design and construction.  

Casteen thanked W. Heywood Fralin, University rector, and the Board of Visitors, who recognized the need for the new facilities. "They committed themselves to making the future of science happen here," he said. "The board took a large risk in committing to these projects. This groundbreaking is evidence that the risk is paying off."

The April 17 groundbreaking will be held under a tent in the T4 parking lot adjacent to the Albert H. Small Building near Whitehead Road. A reception will follow in the Wilsdorf Hall Atrium. Parking is available in the T4 and E3 lots on Whitehead Road, from 2 to 5 p.m.

About the U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science

Founded in 1836, the School of Engineering and Applied Science combines research and educational opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within the undergraduate programs, courses in engineering, ethics, mathematics, the sciences and the humanities are available to build a strong foundation for careers in engineering and other professions. Its abundant research opportunities complement the curriculum and educate young men and women to become thoughtful leaders in technology and society. At the graduate level, the Engineering School collaborates with the University's highly ranked medical and business schools on interdisciplinary research projects and entrepreneurial initiatives. With a distinguished faculty and a student body of 2,134 undergraduates and 664 graduate students, the Engineering School offers an array of engineering disciplines, including cutting-edge research programs in computer and information science and engineering, bioengineering and nanotechnology.

About the U.Va. College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is the largest of the University of Virginia's 10 schools and is the institution's intellectual core. Offering more than 50 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than two dozen graduate programs, Arts & Sciences spans the liberal arts, stretching from the study of the birth of the universe to the latest scientific and technological advances and encompassing the literatures and languages, history and arts, economics and politics of the world's cultures. The College and Graduate School comprise more than 10,000 students and more than 750 faculty members.