Skip to main content

The Future is Now

Welcome to your first college dorm room, 21st-century style

Each of the new dorms on Alderman Road includes a large multipurpose room on the ground floor where students can relax on couches, watch TV or even bake chocolate chip cookies in a kitchen complete with oven, stovetop, fridge, sink and microwave.

Stephanie Gross

Incoming UVA first-years who are assigned to the new Alderman Road dormitories will find themselves in sleek, ecofriendly edifices that, with their red-brick exteriors, blend in on Grounds but offer modern amenities (think washing machines and dryers that send text messages when the laundry is ready).

Beginning in 2006, eight un-air-conditioned, 1960s-era dorms in the Alderman Road Residence Area were torn down, and in their place the University has erected six new residence halls. A seventh is set to open in 2015. Three of the original dorms remain: Courtenay, Dunglison and Fitzhugh (as well as Cauthen House and Woody House, which were built in 1996 and 2000, respectively).

With up to five stories of living spaces, the Alderman Road dorms will house about half of UVA’s 3,600 first-year students this fall, with the other half at the McCormick Road and Gooch-Dillard residence halls.

Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as LEED Gold or LEED Silver, five of the new dorms include modern features such as room-by-room temperature controls, hall lights with automatic sensors and water-bottle refilling stations with digital displays showing how many disposable plastic bottles have been saved from the landfill with each use (a Tuttle-Dunnington House station showed 34,207 as of June).

Shannon House, completed in 2013, includes three classrooms plus a computer classroom on the ground floor. The inclusion of classrooms at “home” furthers the blueprint of the Academical Village, “just the way Thomas Jefferson envisioned it,” says Andy Petters, assistant dean of students.

The furniture in each residence hall’s large, multipurpose room—table-and-chair sets, couches and lounge chairs—is all movable, and a room divider can be pulled across to separate activities. “The furniture we chose was designed to support community life,” Petters says. “We didn’t bolt things down, so if students want to make smaller pods within this larger room, they can do that.”

The ground floor of each dorm also has an individual study room and a group study room, along with a laundry room.

Top: The bedrooms, which have lights with occupancy sensors, are designed for two students each and have loft or adjustable-height beds to leave extra floor space underneath.

Bottom: The glass-tile-accented bathrooms, accommodating 24 students each, have low-flow, dual-flush toilets and individual shower stalls with low-flow showerheads.

Photos of Stephanie Gross

To access the locked living quarters, students must use an electronic swipe card and a PIN. Terrazzo-floored staircases lined with windows and filled with natural light lead up to each floor, each with its own lounge and study room plus two bathrooms, one for each wing.

Almost everything in the bedrooms has a dual purpose: The dresser includes a slide-out dry-erase whiteboard; the desk chair can be taken apart to become a stool and a separate seat for guests; the shelf has a towel bar. Everything but the desk is on wheels so that the furniture can be moved around.

Nestled amid the new dorms is Ern Commons, a one-story, 7,000 square-foot multipurpose building that can be used for game-viewing parties, lectures, dinners and other events.

“There was a lot of thought put into how these buildings are connected to each other,” Petters says.

Total building construction costs, including the yet-to-be-named Building 6, are approximately $114 million.

The final phase of the current project is completion of Building 6, which will contain dorm rooms as well as the new offices of the Department of Housing and Residence Life.