Category Archives: Buildings and Grounds

Jim Bacon, John Reid Discuss Political Dreck on the Lawn Doors

TJC executive director Jim Bacon talks with WRVA talk show host John Reid about the floor-to-ceiling Palestinian-martyr signage on UVA’s Lawn doors.

Question: Would the administration have reacted the same if a Lawn resident posted signage listing the names of the 1,200 Israelis slaughtered by Hamas on October 7?

I Can’t Wait to See the Instant Replays on This Bad Boy

Scott Stadium scoreboard will go from this…

Hey, Wahoo football fans, you’re going to like the look of the new scoreboard at Scott Stadium approved by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors Thursday. Installed in 2009, the scoreboard is outdated and requires frequent repairs. Parts are difficult to find. And it’s small — the second smallest football scoreboard in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The new display will be much bigger — it will be among the top three in the conference — and have superior graphics and a superior sound system. The $13.8 million display is expected to be functional by the end of the year.

… to this.

Instead of Red Brick, a “Warm Red Drum”

by James A. Bacon

Among its other actions last week the University of Virginia Board of Visitors approved a revised design for the $80 million Karsh Institute for Democracy building. In March several Board members had criticized the original design for conflicting with the red-brick motif of Thomas Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece on the Lawn.

The Karsh building is scheduled to open 200 years after construction was completed on the Rotunda, a symbolism not lost on the architects. The new design still won’t have any of Jefferson’s signature red brick, but, as UVa’s chief architect Alice J. Raucher described it, the building will have “echoes” of the Rotunda even as it makes its own statement about democracy and transparency.

In the two main changes, the architects envision a base of white brick and an auditorium wall of red wood behind a white portico. Raucher described the auditorium as a “warm red drum.” The effect, as seen in the juxtaposed images below, show strong parallels when the buildings are lit up at night.

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Red Brick or Limestone for the Temple of Democracy?

Preliminary draft design for the Institute of Democracy building on Ivy Road.

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia’s newly formed Karsh Institute of Democracy will be housed in a signature building, a key part of the Ivy Road corridor in Charlottesville that will include an Olympic sports center, the football program, the School of Data Science, a conference center, and structured parking. Expecting to invite world-class speakers to the venue, UVa officials want the building to make a memorable architectural statement.

In a presentation to the Board of Visitors last week, University Architect Alice J. Raucher walked board members through the thinking behind the preliminary design. Thematically, the architects sought to link UVa’s founding ideals while looking ahead for the next 200 years and highlighting the university’s “global identity” as a forward-looking institution, she said. The signature staircase was inspired by the Oval Rooms in the Rotunda, and the window panels by the classical columns of Thomas Jefferson’s academical village. The design also is meant to communicate the “message of democracy” by being a “welcoming, inviting, inclusive” place that is “open and transparent.”

Some board members liked the design. But it left others cold.

“The building is a beautiful building, but it has nothing to do with the University of Virginia,” said board member Bert Ellis in the first response to the presentation. There is nothing in the design to tie the building to the rest of the UVa grounds, where the dominant motif is red brick. Continue reading