A new task force established by President Jim Ryan will develop recommendations for how a critical piece of property can best serve the University of Virginia and the community into UVA’s third century.
Comprising 17 faculty and staff members, alumni and students, the Emmet/Ivy Task Force will focus on the four-block-long, 14.5-acre parcel of land between the intersection of Emmet Street and Ivy Road and Copeley Road to the north.
The parcel known as the Ivy Corridor – as large as UVA’s original Academical Village – is envisioned as the connective tissue between Central Grounds and the schools and institutions on North Grounds, and as a gateway to the broader community at a regional crossroads.
“There has been a great deal of excellent work and thought put into this parcel, but what remains to be done is to think about the parcel as a whole – to consider the possible uses of this parcel that will complement each other and strengthen the University for decades to come,” Ryan said. “The job of this working group is to think boldly and creatively about the future use of this parcel, which in many ways will help set the future course of the University.”
The task force, which met for the first time in late August, will build on a wealth of previous work. Since the first parcel was acquired in 1983, there have been numerous studies and proposals for programs and buildings to be located in the corridor.
Following a planning study of the University’s entrance corridors along Emmet Street and Ivy Road, the Board of Visitors in 2015 passed a resolution calling for the Office of the Architect for the University to study the parcel, ultimately resulting in the approved master plan known as the Ivy Corridor Landscape Framework Plan. Working with Dumont Janks, landscape architects and campus planners from Boston, the Office of the Architect proposed a framework plan for the site that organized buildable parcels around a significant stream and stormwater amenity, dividing the site into city block-like sections, in order to focus the site on pedestrians and the community.
That vision led to the decision to decommission The Cavalier Inn, which is scheduled for demolition this fall.
The Emmet/Ivy Task Force is now focused on determining appropriate uses to be located on the site, keeping in mind academic synergies and programmatic priorities.
Members will meet throughout the fall and winter, establishing guiding principles, collecting community feedback and developing recommendations in a variety of areas, including building types and uses and public spaces.
The work of the task force is expected to be complete by the end of January, and the recommendations will then go before the Board of Visitors.
Beth Meyer, Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture and co-director of the Center for Cultural Landscapes, is chairing the task force.
“University campuses around the world are creating new transdisciplinary research hubs and performing arts centers,” said Meyer, a former dean of the School of Architecture. “Here at UVA, we can shape a new part of our Grounds where these types of spaces that attract and nurture innovation, creativity and discovery can be intermingled with everyday living and learning spaces for students, visiting scholars, faculty alumni and visitors.
“I see the potential for such a dynamic mix of uses to shape our University culture as significantly as the Academical Village did for the first two centuries,” she added, “for not only is the site the same size as the Academical Village, its location suggests it can catalyze new connections between Central Grounds and the Arts Grounds, the Miller Center, the North Grounds athletic facilities, the Darden School and the Law School. It can start to correct the dispersed patterns of University development that were initiated in the late 1960s.”
The other task force members are:
- Whittington W. Clement, Board of Visitors member and chair of its Buildings and Grounds Committee.
- Richard Will, associate professor in the Department of Music.
- Bill Sherman, professor of architecture, associate vice president for research in design, arts and the humanities, Open Grounds founding director and former associate dean for academics in the School of Architecture.
- Karen McGlathery, environmental science professor and director of the Resilience Institute.
- Melur K. “Ram” Ramasubramanian, vice president for research and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.
- Mary Hughes, University landscape architect.
- Natasha Halloran, student member, who earned a B.A. in foreign affairs in May and is now a first-year law student.
- Maurice Apprey, dean of the Office of African-American Affairs.
- Patricia Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer.
- John Jeffries, professor of law, former dean of the School of Law, and current vice president for UVA’s upcoming capital campaign.
- Colette Sheehy, senior vice president for operations.
- Kevin Fay, chair of the UVA Foundation Board and former chair of the Board of Visitors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee.
- Jim Ryan, president.
- Rusty Conner, rector.
- Jim Murray, vice rector.
- Alice Raucher, Architect for the University.
Committee members will seek input from many interested parties, including the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, the Lewis Mountain Neighborhood Association, UVA Athletics, the UVA Democracy Initiative, University faculty and administrators from different schools and the Office of the Provost, UVA North Grounds constituencies, UVA Residential Life and student leaders and groups.
“There has always been the intention in our planning efforts to make the Ivy Corridor the meeting ground between the University and the broader Charlottesville community,” Raucher said. “The work of the task force will ensure that what ultimately gets built there will serve the University’s core missions and support these communities well into the future.”
Over the past year, feasibility studies for the parcel included as possibilities an interdisciplinary academic building sponsored by the Batten School, a combined University museums building to house both the Fralin Museum of Art and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and a performing arts center, which was studied with support from the Robert and Joseph Cornell Foundation. A Hospitality Task Force, charged by then-President Teresa A. Sullivan in June 2017, reported in January that there was market need for a hotel of up to 300 beds and conference facilities of up to 35,000 square feet, resulting in feasibility studies that the new task force will take into consideration.
In addition to connecting North Grounds to Central Grounds, examples of ways the corridor could be used include: bringing visiting scholars and speakers to the University and Charlottesville communities for a day or for a month-long residency; creating space for students and faculty from different disciplines and schools to collaborate on noteworthy research and projects; providing new public spaces, facilities and eating establishments where people from across Grounds and beyond can engage, learn and have informal conversations; building residential facilities where different groups of students (undergraduate/graduate, undergraduates from different schools) as well as faculty can live and learn.
“Emmet/Ivy’s location creates opportunities for the University to contemplate how it furthers its mission by bringing people together in new ways,” Meyer told task force members.