Nau is new chair of UVA’s land use committee

John L. Nau III

Decisions in Albemarle County and Charlottesville are made by elected officials, but one of the region’s most influential bodies is an appointed one.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Visitors met Thursday as part of the larger group’s September meeting. There is a new chair.

“Our decisions have a long-standing impact on the University,” said John L. Nau III of Houston, Texas.

Nau has previously served on the Board of Visitors and was reappointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin in late June along with Paul C. Harris, Paul Manning, and Rachel Sheridan

The Buildings and Grounds Committee shape the work of the Office of the Architect which implements various master plans for the state institution. For instance, the design for the Karsh Institute of Democracy was modified after input in December 2022 to add an element of white brick and wood panels stained red. That design was endorsed this past June.

UVA is exempt from local zoning and does not pay real property taxes to Charlottesville, though properties owned by the UVA Foundation do.

Nau said he has been meeting with top staff at UVA to discuss the goals for the next year as well as implementation of a capital plan.

“This includes over a billion dollars of projects under construction and over $800 million in projects that are in planning and design,” Nau said.

One of those projects is a new residence hall on Brandon Avenue, a section of Charlottesville that was slowly purchased by the UVA Foundation. Colette Sheehy is the Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government Relations at UVA.

“We’re getting ready coming up next summer to the opening of the new residence halls on Brandon Avenue,” Sheehy said. “About 350 beds, a dining facility, and a hundred parking spaces and common space as well.”

Construction of the new residence halls is currently underway. (Credit: University of Virginia)

Sheehy said the current proposal is to name one the two buildings after the Paul Gaston, a historian who joined the faculty in 1957 and was instrumental in Civil Rights protests in Charlottesville in the 1960’s. 

The other building would be named for Rouhoullah “Ruhi” Ramazani, a political scientist who escaped Iran in 1952  and earned a law degree from UVA in 1954. He taught the first course at UVA on the Middle East and continued to teach for more than 40 years. 

There was no discussion at the meeting of several other renamings. 

  • A building at the Mountain Lake Biological Station in southwest Virginia has been renamed for Ruth Myrtle Patrick, one of the first women to earn a doctorate at UVA with a Ph.D. in biology in 1934. She became curator at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in 1937 but did not receive any payment for her work until 1945. A two-story building at Mountain Lake had been named for Ivey Lewis, the biological station’s founding director. He was also a vocal opponent of desegregation and a promoter of eugenics. 
  • A garden behind two medical research buildings will be renamed for Dr. Thomas Braciale, the founding director of the UVA Beirne C. Carter Immunology Center for Research. Braciale died on May 23, 2023. 
  • A stream that runs through the Darden Arboretum and Botanical Gardens will now be known as the Lauren Morel Stream. That person and her husband are “generous supporters of the Darden School.” 
  • There are new names for the three restaurants that will be part of the Virginia Guesthouse. That’s the hotel under construction in the Emmet-Ivy Corridor. They are the Counter Cafe, the Poplar, and The Perch. The latter is a roof-top restaurant. 

The Buildings and Grounds Committee also did not discuss the demolition of three buildings to make way for the Karsh Institute of Democracy. Two apartment buildings and a commercial structure will come down to make way for infrastructure improvements for the new building.

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the September 16, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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