There’s perhaps no building in all of higher education more important to its institution than the Rotunda is to the University of Virginia. Nearly 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson designed it as a library and put it at the heart of his fledgling University. Since then, it has been renovated, burned down, rebuilt, and reimagined for use in three different centuries, but has always remained the physical and emotional center of Grounds.
Now, to ensure the building’s future, renovations are entering a critical new phase that will bring UVA’s iconic centerpiece into the 21st century while safeguarding the features that make it a World Heritage Site.
The $42.5 million second phase of the project will result in both major and subtle changes in the structure—updating utility systems providing for better safety and accessibility, restoring historical features, and expanding the future use of the building. The renovation is funded through a combination of private philanthropy and state appropriations. Of the original $50.6 million project, only $8.4 million remains to be raised. Matching gift dollars are still available.
“The Rotunda is a historic treasure that continues to serve as the centerpiece of a major educational institution, as Thomas Jefferson envisioned,” said David J. Neuman, architect for the University. “Its maintenance and preservation is a tremendous responsibility, and the second phase of these renovations is an opportunity for UVA to fulfill its role as a good steward of a World Heritage Site and a National Landmark.”
The new renovations are designed to restore the Rotunda as the center of the University’s academic activity and student life. Classroom space in the building will be greatly enhanced, design changes will make the building more accessible for all and program changes will encourage more student involvement with the Rotunda.
Construction is scheduled to begin May 19—the day after Final Exercises—and continue for two years, during which time the Rotunda will be closed to the public. The offices within the building will be moved to temporary spaces, and functions normally held in the Rotunda will be scheduled in other locations.
For more information on the second phase of the Rotunda renovation, visit rotunda.virginia.edu.
Meet a few of the highly specialized craftspeople from UVA and beyond who have been hard at work on this one-of-a-kind restoration project.