In 2007, a student remembrance garden was established on Grounds. The memorial spot, tucked between Newcomb Hall and Clemons Library, consisted of a dedicatory plaque to UVA students who’d passed away and a small bench.
“But no one really knew it was there—it was a subtle implementation,” says Helen Wilson (Arch ’89, ’95), senior landscape architect with the Office of the Architect at UVA. After another student tragedy in March 2011, a new group of students sought a place to gather. They learned of the remembrance space and wanted to enhance it. But they didn’t realize how long the project would take.
The revamped UVA Remembrance Garden was officially dedicated in November 2017, after years of collaboration from students, staff and community workers.
The current design began taking shape almost a decade ago when UVA architecture professor Nancy Takahashi (Arch ’76) asked a class of landscape architecture students to imagine a remembrance space. The students then met with the Office of the Architect and Facilities Management to brainstorm constructability, but the project stalled.
After the September 2014 death of second-year student Hannah Graham, students expressed a renewed desire for a remembrance space. While a temporary area was set up, then-Student Council member Daniel McGovern (Arch ’17) revitalized the project.
“I felt a lot of responsibility for [the garden],” McGovern says. “It was at the point where it was like, someone has to finish it or it will slip away for another 10 years.”
McGovern wrote a proposal to the University’s newly established SIF for funding; while he didn’t receive a SIF grant, the administration allocated $700,000 toward the garden. After contracting with organizations such as landscape architecture firm Rhodeside & Harwell, construction began last July.
The University also worked with Faulconer Construction and Fine Concrete (where McGovern now works) on the site, which includes a Remembrance Wall for students to write memories, tributes and messages; a secluded back garden; a small plaza with a larger bench; and a back wall with the previous remembrance plaque and a bench donated by the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan (Col ’00), the only UVA alumnus killed in the Iraq War.
“When we were opening [on November 10], people were noticing something was there,” says Mark Stanis, director of project services within facilities management. “I have seen people there more now. … It’s a much more inviting space to sit, remember and contemplate.”