UVA South Lawn

University of Virginia - South Lawn
Charlottesville, Virginia

‘The Project extends Thomas Jefferson’s architectural vision both physically and conceptually, creating a carefully orchestrated ensemble of classrooms, common spaces and landscapes that together form a cohesive academic community.
— Carol Wood, UVa Today

The South Lawn Project is a new 10-acre Arts and Sciences complex at the University of Virginia.  Located immediately adjacent to Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Academical Village,’ a World Heritage site, it presented intriguing design challenges for both building and landscape.  Jefferson’s design precedents, sustainable site strategies and tangible archaeological elements informed the evolution of an historically contextual yet modern landscape. 

The natural features of the site—steep topography, watercourses, woodlands—and its cultural systems—historic and archaeological sites, streets, and views—are reinvigorated as a ‘green infrastructure’ that frames the architecture and provides connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods.  Within this frame, a sequence of open spaces—groves, gardens and greens—provides opportunities for gathering, teaching, learning and contemplation.  The archaeological site has become a didactic teaching facility and a commemorative public park.  An innovative stormwater strategy, the ‘water circuit’ cleanses runoff through bio-filtration channels and detains water to curtail downstream flooding.  As a new site amenity, the water circuit also provides an important pedestrian connection to the adjacent neighborhood.  These sustainable site strategies were integral to the South Lawn Project’s achievement of LEED Gold status.

Project Team: Moore Ruble Yudel Architects, Hood Design, Weidlinger Associates, Glaserworks, Nitsch Engineering, Davis-Langdon, Sussman-Prejza, Horton Lees Brogden, Al Forster