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Board approves Darden School expansion

The Board of Visitor's Building and Grounds Committee approved the schematic design for a major expansion of the Darden School yesterday.

The expansion will include an addition to the residential wing of Sponsors Hall, an entirely new building with a large auditorium, dining facilities, additional office and classroom space and the construction of a 500-space parking garage.

One hundred and fifty thousand gross square feet of area will be added during the expansion, which is part of Darden's master plan for increasing its size and capacity.

"This project is going to change where the locus for activity is on a daily basis," Darden School Dean Edward A. Snyder said.

But Board members voiced concerns about several aspects of the project, including the monolithic appearance of the 320-foot long parking garage, which would be located on the north side of the Darden Grounds.

"I'd like to see the middle of the garage moved up," Board member Benjamin P.A. Warthen said.

Warthen suggested that shifting up the middle of the garage would create a more harmonious appearance for the entire structure by eliminating one long horizontal roofline.

Board members also said they are worried about the exterior entrance to the new auditorium.

Several members, including Committee Chairman Albert H. Small, suggested widening the archways above the entrance to create a more noticeable portal.

In other Board news, the Committee approved the preliminary design for the Special Collections Library, which will be constructed on the site of Miller Hall, after Miller Hall is demolished. Miller Hall now houses the Office of Admissions, and is slated for demolition later this school year. The Office of Admissions will move to Peabody Hall.

Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief financial officer, reported to the Committee that the renovation of Peabody Hall for the Office of Admissions will begin as soon as state officials approve the project.

Sandridge also reported to the Board that the student groups, such as the Inter-Fraternity Council and Corks and Curls, displaced by the move of the Office of Admissions, generally are pleased with their new office space.

"Most of the student groups have better space now than they did before," he said.

Sandridge and Small both said the Scott Stadium expansion project was on time and on budget, contrary to some media reports.

"I don't think I've ever seen a project run as smoothly as this one," Small said.

Sandridge also said he feels the University has adequately addressed neighborhood concerns about the stadium expansion, particularly about shielding the appearance of a large retaining wall with ivy and other landscaping.

"We're still committed to the fact that this is the best solution," he said. "We've tried to do everything we can to respond to the concerns of the neighborhood."

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