The Buildings and Grounds Committee met to approve building projects, naming and an addition to its capital plan and hear feedback from a consulting group Thursday afternoon. The meeting was held in-person in the Rotunda for the first time since 2019.
Approved last March, the committee’s plans for a 223,000-square-foot hotel and conference center on Ivy Road just got a new addition. The conference center will house guest lecturers, alumni, and other visitors to the University and will also include the largest meeting space in Charlottesville at 10,000 square feet. The projected cost for the project is $130.5 million.
Alice Raucher, architect for the University, presented an added “rooftop food and beverage amenity,” which will offer “incredibly striking views” of the University and a social space. The committee approved the addition to the plan.
The committee also voted to approve the concept site, design guidelines and name for the new Karsh Institute of Democracy, announced this past June. The institute’s creation was made possible by a $50 million gift from Martha and Bruce Karsh, which the University matched with a $50 million commitment to reach the $100 million budget for this project.
The Karshes are both alumni of the University and established the School of Law’s Karsh Center for Law and Democracy in 2018 with a $50 million gift. The Karsh family also supports the School of Law through an endowment of a scholarship program and the Kennedy professorship.
“The Karshes have been longtime and generous supporters of the University, especially the Law School,” University President Jim Ryan said. “[The gift is] designed to both enable us to construct the building and support programs in conjunction.”
The Institute of Democracy will act as a sort of “umbrella organization” for the democracy initiatives of organizations like the Center for Politics, The Democracy Initiative, the Sorensen Institute and the Miller Center. The institute will be built adjacent to the new conference center on Ivy Road.
The committee’s second naming proposal was also approved. The new academic facility for the McIntire School of Commerce — located across from Rouss and Robertson Halls — will be named Shumway Hall to honor alumnus Chris W. Shumway. Shumway has been a long-time donor to the University, supporting the McIntire School of Commerce, Virginia Athletics, the U.Va. fund and the Alumni Association.
The committee then voted on an addition to the 2021 Major Capital Plan, a breakdown of the University’s allocation of funds for facilities planning and construction projects. They approved the renovation and expansion of the Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital, an inpatient facility that cares for patients after life-changing injury or illness like stroke and spinal cord injuries. The renovation will include converting the 50 semi-private rooms to 60 private rooms.
Consultants Peter Wallace and Linda Conrad from HKA — the firm chosen by the committee in February to evaluate the costs and executions of major capital projects at the University in comparison to peer institutions — presented an assessment and recommendations. The presentation identified change orders — modifications made to approved construction plans — as a significant area for improvement in the committee's efforts to limit unnecessary project costs. In order to cut back on change orders, the consultants recommended the committee establish strict guidelines for when a change order may be acceptable.
The written report distributed to members for the meeting also included an update on sustainability — including the Governor’s executive order to eliminate the single use plastics — a progress report on historic preservation and the building office’s annual support, which were not discussed during the meeting.
The University is on track to stop single-use plastic consumption, according to the Sustainability report. For four months representatives from U.Va. Dine, U.Va. Health, Procurement, Athletics, Facilities Management, the U.Va. Bookstore, the Alumni Association, faculty, students and others contributed to an Executive Order 77 working group are prioritizing minimization — reducing the need for disposables.
“U.Va. is well positioned to respond to EO77 because UVA’s 2030 Sustainability Plan includes a goal to reduce UVA’s waste footprint 70 percent by 2030 relative to 2010 levels — in other words, reduce to 30 percent of the 2010 footprint,” the report reads. “In addition, work to reduce single-use plastics and increase diversion from landfills via composting has been underway at UVA for over 10 years.”