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University of Virginia to break ground Friday on Contemplative Commons

university of virginia uvaThe University of Virginia will celebrate the groundbreaking of the Contemplative Commons with an on-site ceremony on Friday at 10 a.m. on the former Dell basketball courts adjacent to Bavaro Hall.

Among the speakers will be University of Virginia President Jim Ryan, lead donors Paul Tudor Jones (a 1976 graduate of UVA) and Sonia M. Jones, and Contemplative Sciences Center Executive Director David Germano. UVA leaders, supporters, faculty, staff and students are expected to gather at the event to honor the building’s future as a new University hub for promoting student flourishing in academic, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, interdisciplinary collaboration and research, and Charlottesville community engagement.

When it opens in 2023, the 57,000-square-foot Contemplative Commons will take full advantage of its idyllic location alongside the Dell pond and several new outdoor spaces, including contemplative gardens, a tree-lined courtyard and a new green pedestrian bridge across Emmet Street.

UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center has worked closely with the Office of the University Architect as well as Aidlin Darling Design, VMDO and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects to design the Contemplative Commons as a multipurpose complex accommodating a new model of higher education – one dedicated to helping students flourish in all aspects of the lives at school and beyond.

“Vital to the vision,” Germano said, “are spaces conducive to integrating academic learning with social and emotional learning, mind with body, and natural environments with built environments, and that truly facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and, most critically, contemplation – the highly reflective, immersive, and transformative kinds of learning experiences that Thomas Jefferson envisioned when he founded the University.”

The new building will offer innovations in form and function over traditional lecture halls, including an abundance of natural light and highly interconnected indoor-outdoor spaces that reflect the importance of nature exposure to health and well-being. The design includes a variety of flexible learning studios that can be configured for academic classes, quiet reflection, physical activity or social interaction. The building primarily will house academic activities during the day, while on evenings and weekends, it will host extracurricular events, social gatherings and local community engagements.

The Contemplative Commons is funded in part by a $40 million lead gift from Paul and Sonia Jones, along with generous gifts from Jeffrey C. Walker, additional members of the Contemplative Sciences Center’s Advisory Board, and other donors.