Contemplative Commons Groundbreaking
CSC Spearheads New Building Designed for a New Model of Higher Education
The Contemplative Sciences Center along with numerous UVA leaders, faculty, staff, students, and community members celebrated the groundbreaking of the Contemplative Commons with an on-site ceremony on October 8, 2021. Attendants gathered on the former Dell basketball courts adjacent to Bavaro Hall 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. UVA President Jim Ryan, CSC Executive Director David Germano, and CSC Advisory Board members Paul Tudor Jones, Sonia Jones, and Jeff Walker were among the ceremony speakers.
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. PLAY THE FLY-THROUGH VIDEO.
UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center has been working closely with the Office of the 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,” says Germano, “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 a number of 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. During the day the building primarily will house academic activities, 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.
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