UVA Board of Visitors panel briefed on data science center, Brandon Avenue dorm

The new School of Data Science at the University of Virginia will be housed in one of the first new buildings in the planned Ivy Corridor. 

“That will probably be about a 70,000 gross square foot building,” said Colette Sheehy, the Senior Vice President for Operations at the University. 

The location of this key site was one of many topics of discussion at the June 6, 2019 meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Visitors. The $43 million building for the School of Data Science is included within the multi-year Major Capital Plan, a suite of construction, renovation and infrastructure projects with an estimated cost of $3.5 billion. That includes the academic division, the health system, and the College of Wise. 

The cost to build the Data Science center comes entirely from the $120 million gift from the Quantitative Foundation and one of its trustees, Jaffrey Woodriff. 

The location will be on Ivy Road along a corridor that the University of Virginia’s real estate foundation has been purchasing land over the past several years. In September 2016, the Board of Visitors approved a framework plan that envisioned a future where UVA could grow on land within the city of Charlottesville.  

Last fall, UVA President Jim Ryan appointed a task force to study possible uses for the 14.5 acres of land. [report] Their broad recommendations were to offer “nexuses” for creativity, discovery and democracy. 

The School of Data Science is slated to be one of the first new buildings along this new corridor. It will be built just to the north of where the Cavalier Inn stood and will face both Ivy Road and a linear park that will run through the Ivy Corridor. 

“This prominent site faces the public green with direct visual access to Central Grounds,” Sheehy said. “There’s great alignment between the principal goals of the Emmet/Ivy Task Force for inclusivity, transparency and visibility and the program for [Data Science] which is to be the anchor for the Discovery Nexus.” 

Other projects in the multiyear capital plan include $3 million for an addition to Campbell Hall, $28 million for an Environmental Health & Safety Facility and $35 million for a new parking garage to serve North Grounds. 

“The University is and will be facing a fairly significant parking crunch in the next few years so we’re proposing two new parking structures,” Sheehy said. That includes the North Grounds facility as well as one at the Fontaine Research Park. 

A new $10 million engineering building will house the Virginia Autonomous Systems Testing Facility. 

“It’s a high bay space to test and do research on autonomous vehicles both in the air, amphibious and on the ground,” Sheehy said. “It involves other departments in the University and not just the engineering school. Astronomy, Environmental Sciences, Architecture and Business are involved as well.”

Sheehy said there are a number of studies underway at the moment as well, including the future of the Ivy Gardens apartment complex in Albemarle County. 

“We’re going to do a master planning study on the potential redevelopment of that site,” Sheehy said. 

The committee saw for the first time the schematic designs for the second upper-class residence hall to be built on Brandon Avenue. The first, Bond House, is currently under construction. Raucher said the new dorms have more windows on the ground floor in order to have a more active street presence. The Buildings and Grounds Committee will vote to approve the designs at their meeting in September. 

Sheehy said the administration believes that Bond House will be ready for occupation for the upcoming academic year, though “it will be down to the wire.”  There are 313 students assigned to the residence hall for the fall. She said there is a backup plan in case the building is not complete. 

Timeline for Memorial to Enslaved Workers

The committee also voted on the official timeline that will be included in the University’s Memorial to Enslaved Workers. The Board of Visitors approved the basic design in June 2017.

“The memorial consists of a circular stone wall within which a timeline of events related to the history of slavery at the University will be inscribed,” reads the staff report for the meeting.

The timeline begins in 1619 with the inscription “First written mention of enslaved Africans in Virginia” and then continues with the history of slavery in the colony. An entry for 1817 states 

“Ten enslaved people begin to clear the land that will become UVA.”

The timeline ends in 1889 with the death of Isabella Gibbons, a formerly enslaved person at UVA who in 1866 became a teacher at what would become the Jefferson School. The memorial will be inscribed with this quote from Gibbons: 

“Can we forget the crack of the whip, cowhide, whipping-post, the auction block, the hand-cuffs, the spaniels, the iron collars, the negro-trader tearing the young child from its mother’s breast as a whelp from the lioness? Have we forgotten that by those horrible cruelties, hundreds of our race have been killed? No, we have not, nor ever will.”

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