The Board of Visitors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee met Thursday to discuss several projects in the works this year.
“As the International Residential College, it would be preferable to have a building named after an international student,” said Colette Sheehy, the University’s senior vice president for operations. “The proposal is to name it Yen House, after W.W. Yen, who was the first student from China to graduate from the University of Virginia and the first international student to receive a bachelor’s degree from this University.”
The committee passed two action items, the first being a plaque to commemorate the University’s Bicentennial — the 200th anniversary of the laying of the University’s first cornerstone at Pavilion VII.
“[The plaque] speaks to not only to the history of the University, but also the vision to the future of the Academical Village,” Sheehy said. “The text is based on Jefferson’s words in 1786, where he talks about the belief that no other short foundation save education can ensure the preservation of freedom and happiness.”
After the action items passed, the committee moved into discussion.
Sheehy introduced the new University Building Official, Ben Hays, to the committee. Hays is a senior engineer at the University and a lecturer in the Architecture School.
“Other institutions of higher education who don’t have this position locally have to wait for the people in Richmond to come to their campus and inspect their buildings and review their documents and issue their certificates of occupancy when the projects are finished,” Sheehy said. “This has been a huge advantage for us, streamlined our process and no doubt saved millions of dollars because time is money in the construction business.”
Cheryl Gomez, co-chair of the Committee on Sustainability, and Bill Shobe, co-chair of the Committee on Sustainability’s Teaching and Research Subcommittee, then presented on the University’s accomplishments and goals in sustainability.
“One of our important dimensions for involvement in sustainability efforts is engagement - engagement with alumni, students and community,” Shobe said. “I can tell you as someone who teaches a class in environmental economics every year that the students are just totally engaged in the subject of sustainability.”
University Architect Alice Raucher then updated the Committee on Ivy Corridor Landscape Framework Plan.
“The option we’re recommending is that we actually make amenity of the stormwater and have a pond on the site, along with green space,” Raucher said. “The idea of this is not unlike the Dell, which we have just south of this area.”
Rector Frank M. “Rusty” Conner III said he believed the focus ought to be on facilities the entire University can use.
“There seems to be a real need for a much more significant meeting space, a performing arts center, whatever you want to describe it,” Conner said. “There seems to be increasing consensus for a … [hotel] or arts space. There also is … an interest in perhaps building a museum.”
Raucher also presented the Lawn Accessibility Project, which will install a ramp on West Lawn, next to the steps south of Pavilion V and north of Pavilion IX, for persons with disabilities.
“Right now, students and faculty, staff and visitors, can get to each of the terraces independently, but if you have to move from the upper terrace to the middle or lower terrace, everyone is directed back out to McCormick Road and up [an] alley,” Raucher said. “We were asked if it was possible to look for some connectivity between terraces.”
Lastly, Raucher spoke about the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative to renovate the Academic Village, including parts of Pavilion VIII and the roofs on tops of Lawn rooms.
“As we move forward with the renovations, we always try to restore back to Mr. Jefferson’s intentions,” Raucher said.