UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA                                                                                                          GROUNDS PLAN                                                                                                          OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT

































































Redevelopment Zones

(click to enlarge)



IMAGINE that in the next 10 to 20 years, we can begin to reshape Grounds to reflect the civic intent and environs created by Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village. Through a sequence of physical improvements providing anchor and connection points throughout the Grounds, and prescribing growth within the developed areas, this Plan is intended to recapture the spirit imbued in the Academical Village. Among the important changes proposed by this Plan are:

  • A clear development boundary (US29/250 Bypass) designed to emphasize compact growth through infill and redevelopment.
  • Preservation of the historic buildings and cultural landscapes, as well as vestiges of the wooded realm through conservation of Observatory Hill and the North Grounds woods.
  • Three revitalized academic neighborhoods created by adjusting roads and current uses to make more effective use of the University’s land resources.
  • Two new major green spaces to provide community focal points for North Grounds and West Grounds, reflecting and balancing the Lawn in the Central Grounds.

These and other shifts in the management and use of land within the Grounds are designed to create a cohesive and yet flexible land use plan. Building upon the programmatic strengths of the University of Virginia, the 2008 Grounds Plan will guide land use planning and physical growth for the next twenty years to capitalize on the potential of existing and new facilities, and offer superior environments for future academic, residential and related endeavors. The core of Central Grounds possesses a world-class inventory of historic buildings and landscapes that create a unique identity and serve as a model of the living-learning environment central to the vision of the Academical Village. The diversity of academic pursuits, persistence of personal freedom, and importance of social responsibility within the University community are among the defining qualities of this institution as envisioned by its founder, Thomas Jefferson, who placed a high value on interaction and the exchange of ideas. While the growth of the University has enabled a variety of opportunities for educational enrichment, the manner of that growth has gradually divided the University both physically and psychologically. Thomas Jefferson started with a multi-use concept for the University, and the 2008 Grounds Plan returns to this powerful planning paradigm as it works to overcome the latter-day divisions.

In accommodating the physical growth and redevelopment that are essential to fulfilling the University’s academic mission, the Plan views the Grounds as an integrated, contiguous series of multi-functional facilities and green spaces linked by a network of natural and man-made systems. Viewing these systems in a holistic relationship will yield more efficient use of available resources, and create a richer, more dynamic environment on Grounds. To accomplish these goals at the scale of the University requires a strategic approach, based on five primary principles reviewed in 2006 and adopted in 2008 by the Board of Visitors. Linking these principles is the overarching concept of sustainability, which asserts that growth and change can be accommodated while resources are conserved for future generations.

  • Environmental Quality: to protect and restore our natural environment
  • Connectivity: to increase the quality and continuity of linkages throughout the Grounds
  • Context: to promote beneficial physical relationships with the surrounding community
  • Multi-disciplinary Collaboration: to develop mixed-use facilities in support of academic interaction and collaboration
  • Preservation: to maintain and enhance the University’s cultural, building, and landscape resources

Physical growth is an issue that cities, towns and institutions continually address. Ineffective management can result in the development of greenfield sites - open, previously undeveloped lands - rather than the more sustainable redevelopment of underutilized infill sites. The greenfield pattern of development is of concern because it damages the ecosystems that we depend on for our health and wellbeing, separates us from one another by greater distances, threatens the identity of places that are memorable and is far less economic in results than infill development. While the University faces similar pressures related to growth, it is well-suited to counter these trends and simultaneously continue to evolve as a premier institution of higher education.

A conventional campus plan would focus on defining specific building sites for future growth. Instead, the 2008 Grounds Plan recommends the establishment of Redevelopment Zones, a unique approach to campus planning making use of tools that are normally applied to city and community planning. The Redevelopment Zones (see page 6) target future development to areas where mixed-used infill development and redevelopment of existing facilities will create the greatest possible benefits in accommodating the variety of spaces and uses that comprise the University now and in the future. These targeted zones also allow for the conservation of important green spaces that contribute to the health and identity of the University-at-large.


Organization of the Plan
The Plan provides background and a process for evaluating the land use potential within all of the University Grounds. First, The Setting (Section 1) surveys the history of planning at the UVa, providing the context for current planning efforts and establishing precedent for the mixed-use approach advocated by this Plan. Second, the physical Framework and Systems (Section 2) that form the University (land use, natural systems, transportation, and infrastructure) are analyzed to derive opportunities and constraints, guiding the implementation of redevelopment zones. Third, a discussion of the human systems, Program and Precincts, (Section 3) shows how this innovative approach can meet the future needs of the University for the next twenty years. Finally, Case Studies of projects already completed or underway (Section 4) demonstrate how the objectives set forth in this Plan can be achieved in practice.

Redevelopment Zones

The purpose of Redevelopment Zones:
The Redevelopment Zones, shown on page 6, form the framework for future development on Grounds. Within these zones, the stated objectives of proposed projects can be evaluated against the long-term needs of the University, the principles we encourage in our community, and the historical and cultural context that generates the University of Virginia’s unique identity.


1)  How Redevelopment Zones were established:
Guided by criteria identified by the Office of the Architect for the University during the 2004-2007 planning process, the entirety of the University Grounds was analyzed to identify opportunities for development (areas where support infrastructure is robust and human systems are active). The principle of environmental quality was applied to identify constraints on development (natural/conservation areas that are most sensitive to negative impacts of development).  Redevelopment Zones were categorized according to the existing uses or those of the adjacent areas (academic mixed use and residential mixed use).

2)  How Redevelopment Zones were tested:
Once established, these Redevelopment Zones were evaluated as to whether they could accommodate planned growth for the twenty-year horizon. Two past and two future planning horizons (1995, 2005 / 2015, 2025) were used as benchmarks for this process, and the results showed that the Redevelopment Zones would accommodate the planned 20-year growth for the University while effectively bridging the physical gaps between areas of Grounds; thereby curbing the outward expansion of University facilities.

3)  How Redevelopment Zones are used:
When a new project is proposed, parameters of the facility’s proposed size, infrastructure requirements and intended use will determine which redevelopment zone the project is located within. This encourages collocation of facilities according to academic research pursuit, residential needs, and related support infrastructure. Next, an analysis of sites within that zone will determine the project location based on the criteria to:

  • Incorporate the principles of sustainability,
  • Maximize site utilization,
  • Minimize cost and time for implementation,
  • Support the aesthetic character of the University, and
  • Reinforce functional relationships within and between the various systems and precincts that define the University.

Adhering to the goal of sustainability, the 2008 Grounds Plan will be used to evaluate proposals for infill redevelopment; assuring managed growth that preserves opportunities for future generations, minimizes the negative externalities associated with development, and maintains the mixture and variety of activities that give the University of Virginia its unique identity.

Redevelopment Zones (click to enlarge)

These designated Redevelopment Zones will be used to accommodate University growth for the next twenty or more years. There are two types of Redevelopment Zones, academic/mixed use and residential/mixed use. The academic/mixed use will accommodate University buildings that are associated with teaching, research, libraries, student services and University community uses. These buildings are planned to be an average of four floors and multi-use with a blend of disciplines and community uses such as cafes and auditoria. The overall density of Grounds (measured through floor area ratio - FAR - see page 46) is planned to increase, while maintaining the vital balance of green space that is essential to the character of UVa.

The residential/mixed use will accommodate University housing ranging from residential halls to family housing and related facilities such as dining halls. These zones are programmed for an overall 20% increase with planned building heights of four to five floors. This 20% increase will be achieved through increased building height and more efficient use of the sites, such as relocating parking to an adjacent facility.

What planners refer to today as “mixed use” remains very close to the original Jeffersonian conception of the Academical Village.  The University was modeled after a town or village - an all-inclusive settlement embodying Jeffersonian’s agrarian ideals. This marriage of pedagogy and planning at the University remained his own distinctive contribution, and continues to this day with the varying uses of the University being woven together in an interspersed pattern of land use.

The two types of Redevelopment Zones signify this mixed use approach and the direction of continued future (re)development on Grounds. The Redevelopment Zones provide for the inclusion of green space with a system of “places and links”, destination green spaces and the connecting elements that will work together to compose a comprehensive green space system linking uses throughout the Grounds. The places are both civic and naturalistic, such as the Lawn and the Dell, and include existing and proposed green spaces. Primary links consist of the University’s road and pedestrian networks, as well as the stream courses flowing through the Grounds. These are supplemented by the academic centers located in each of the three precincts.




THE Office of the Architect for the University (OAU) would like to acknowledge the guidance provided by the Master Planning Council Presidential Committee (see Resources and inside of back cover). Council members worked with OAU planning staff throughout the development of the Plan, and provided key insight into the culture and practices of the University in support of respectful stewardship of the institution. OAU developed and managed the entire process of the 2008 Grounds Plan.

In addition, OAU acknowledges support from our valued collaborative consultants:

  • Natureserve of Alexandria, VA, who developed the first comprehensive Biodiversity Analysis and Conservation Planning Model of the Grounds, 2006
  • Vanasse Hangen Brustlin of Richmond, VA, who developed a comprehensive Transportation Demand Management Plan, Phase 1, 2007
  • Ira Fink Associates, University Planning Consultants of Berkeley, CA, who developed the faculty-based Space Needs Projection Planning Model, 2007
  • William Johnson FASLA, Landscape Architecture and Community Design of Bainbridge
    Island, WA, who assisted in developing conceptual campus planning concepts and precinct-level plans, 2005-2007
  • ARUP of San Francisco and New York,who developed the Grounds Plan Sustainability Assessment with the use of the ARUP SPeAR program, 2007