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Board of Visitors Buildings and Grounds Committee tables renaming of Alderman Library

The proposal would have changed the name to “The Edgar Shannon Library” after the University’s fourth president

<p>University spokesperson Bethanie Glover confirmed that the proposal is expected to reappear on March’s meeting agenda.</p>

University spokesperson Bethanie Glover confirmed that the proposal is expected to reappear on March’s meeting agenda.

The Board of Visitors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee tabled a proposal to rename the University’s main library during Thursday’s Buildings and Grounds Committee session. While the issue will reappear on the upcoming Board meeting agenda in March, the building will open Jan. 8 as Alderman Library.

The Committee’s agenda, published ahead of the meeting, included an action item to vote on the renaming of Alderman Library to “The Edgar Shannon Library” after the University’s fourth president. The library has been closed for renovations since March 2020 with a reopening scheduled ahead of next semester.

Chairman John L. Nau III said he spoke with Board members concerning the name change ahead of the meeting, but the Board will wait to vote on the proposal until the next set of meetings in March.

“There is still work to address and complete on this issue,” Nau said. “So we will table the issue. We will definitely address it in March.”

There was no further discussion of the topic for the duration of the meeting.

The library’s current name pays homage to the University's first president, Edwin A. Alderman. Alderman has faced recent criticism as a proponent of eugenics — a pseudoscience historically used to justify discrimination against racial minorities, especially Black populations. The meeting agenda does not mention these beliefs.

To “ensure that the legacy of President Alderman is preserved and remembered,” the original proposal included retaining plaques dedicated to Alderman, along with renaming the library’s main entrance to Alderman Hall. 

The proposal to rename Alderman Library follows years of student and faculty discourse. After increased scrutiny over Alderman’s support of eugenics, U.Va. Libraries started an internal library research naming group in December 2019. John Unsworth, University librarian and dean of libraries, submitted a request in June 2021 for consideration of an Alderman name change to the Naming and Memorials Committee — a  group is composed of faculty and Board of Visitors members. 

That proposed name change did not appear on the Building and Grounds Committee’s September agenda.

University spokesperson Bethanie Glover confirmed that the proposal is expected to reappear on March’s meeting agenda.

Board members then addressed other ongoing construction on the Emmet-Ivy corridor. The Board unanimously approved the demolition of two remaining apartment buildings and two small commercial buildings on the corridor in order to make space for Ivy Corridor Phase IIA, which includes construction of the Karsh Institute for Democracy.

The University has recently increased its overall focus on the Ivy Corridor area, publishing a public letter opposing the construction of an apartment building by a private developer elsewhere along the road. Many community members and local groups, however, have advocated for the development to ease Charlottesville’s housing crisis. 

The committee also discussed the Fontaine Roadway infrastructure and parking garage project near Fontaine Research Park

The Committee approved a revised design for the space with 1,250 spaces for faculty and staff in a $61 million seven-story parking garage and other enhancements to Ray C. Hunt Drive. University Architect Alice J. Raucher said a road built on a current green space will add additional sidewalks, parking, and travel lanes. 

“With a significant amount of available land, we knew that Fontaine was primed for development.” Raucher said. “We also knew that we had to make the park accessible to public transit, which currently it is not, and create amenities for food and gathering to help Fontaine feel like a place where one would want to come and stay from the day at least.”

Raucher then presented updated schematics for the proposed $350 million Institute of Biotechnology. She said a major focus on the design was the glass structure to highlight nature and the environment.

“The idea of making the building transparent around the courtyard [was] to allow research to be on display,” Raucher said. “The development of the architecture to focus on the neighborhood green to enliven the civic space.”

The Committee approved this proposal. Construction for this building will begin within the next year, with the completion date to be announced. 

The final design passed involved Darden Student Housing near the heart of the Darden School of Business, with a budget between $115 million and $130 million. The proposed student housing will consist of one and two bedroom apartments with a total of approximately 218 units and 348 beds. The schematics were created by Robert A.M. Stern Architects in collaboration with the Office of the Architect for the University, the Darden School of Business and Facilities Management. 

Raucher said the new residential buildings will face Darden’s Wilkinson court, with their back located near Darden’s parking garage.

“The architecture of these buildings is meant to be consistent with Darden’s existing academic structures while presenting a more residential character,” Raucher said. 

Colette Sheehy, senior vice president for operations and state government relations, provided an update on recently-completed renovations to Gilmer Hall and the Chemistry Building. Both buildings began renovations in 2017, with the Chemistry Building completing in 2020 and Gilmer Hall’s renovations ending in 2022. Both projects included renovating facades, adding new atrium spaces and lab hallways as well as renovating main entrances. 

The Northern Virginia chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded the Gilmer Hall renovations with a Jurors’ Citation this August, as well as an institutional architecture Juror’s Citation.

“I think anybody would tell you what a transformation that exterior improvement has made to Gilmer Hall.” Sheehy said.

The Committee also voted to name the performing arts center on the Emmett-Ivy Corridor “The Tessa and Richard Ader Performing Arts Center” after $50 million donor Tessa Ader and her late husband, Richard Adler. The center is still under construction and part of the overall Emmet-Ivy Project to create a Center of the Arts facility with the music department and University museums. 

The Committee will convene again in March, where members will again consider Alderman’s re-naming.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Alderman Library is set to open Jan. 2. The library is actually opening Jan. 8 to account for inspections and the article has since been updated to reflection this change. 

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