Renovations to the University of Virginia’s historic Rotunda are entering a critical new phase that will bring UVA’s iconic centerpiece into the 21st century while safeguarding the features that make it a World Heritage Site.

The $42.5 million second phase of the project will result in both major and subtle changes in the structure – updating utility systems, restoring historical features and expanding the future use of the building. The renovation is funded through a combination of private philanthropy and state appropriations. No tuition money is involved in the project.

Phase two of the Rotunda restoration project will begin in May 2014 and will continue for two years. Photo courtesy of UVaToday

“The Rotunda is a historic treasure that continues to serve as the centerpiece of a major educational institution, as Thomas Jefferson envisioned,” said David J. Neuman, architect for the University.

"Its maintenance and preservation is a tremendous responsibility, and the second phase of these renovations is an opportunity for UVA to fulfill its role as a good steward of a World Heritage Site and a National Landmark.”

Jefferson designed the Rotunda, but the original building was destroyed by fire in 1895. Following the blaze, it was re-envisioned by famed architect Stanford White, principal of the New York firm McKim, Mead & White. Further modifications were made in 1938; the most recent major renovation, completed in time for the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, restored many elements of Jefferson’s original design.

The new renovations are designed to restore the Rotunda as center of the University’s academic activity and student life. Classroom space in the building will be greatly expanded, design changes will make the building more accessible and program changes will encourage more student involvement with the Rotunda.

“The overarching goals of this work are to protect and sustain the University of Virginia’s most important architectural asset,” Neuman said. “Phase two will bring major construction and some disruption. But when the project is complete, the Rotunda will be even more valuable and useful to the University community and beyond.”

Construction is scheduled to begin May 19 – the day after Final Exercises – and continue for two years, during which time the Rotunda will be closed to the public. The offices within the building will be moved to temporary spaces, and functions normally held in the Rotunda will be scheduled in other locations.

Continue Reading...