The School of Data Science, at the corner of Emmet Street and Ivy Road, is forecast to open in two years. Courtesy Hopkins Architects and DumontJanks

Crews have begun building the bones of what UVA leaders envision will become a vital connector between Central Grounds and North Grounds on the northwest corner of Emmet Street and Ivy Road. The work is part of a massive, years-long plan to transform the 14.5 acres, once home to the Cavalier Inn and a collection of other businesses and UVA properties, into a new gateway for UVA.

This fall, workers were constructing sidewalks, placing underground utilities, and creating tree lawns and bike lanes along Ivy Road.

“It’s going to be a game changer for the entire neighborhood and the community to have academic buildings, a center for the arts, and the hotel and conference center,” says Alice Raucher, University architect. “The whole district is going to be a place for the broader Charlottesville community as well as the University community to come together.” 

University officials turn over ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt to commence the construction process on the School of Data Science. Dan Addison

The first buildings are expected to open in about two years. Officials broke ground for the four-story School of Data Science in early October; construction is forecast to take 24 months. Raucher expects to break ground on the 215-room hotel and 26,000-square-foot conference center in early 2022. The first visitors might be checking in in two to 2½ years.

Construction of the Karsh Institute of Democracy, which will collaborate with other programs on Grounds on issues facing democracy, likely won’t begin for another two years; it could open by early 2026. A $50 million gift from arts patron Tessa Ader in September kicked off efforts for the performing arts center, which will feature concert and recital halls. 

“It’s really an extraordinary moment for the University, just to make the University’s Grounds plan more cohesive, more connected,” Raucher says.