Inn at Darden architecture rendering

The Darden Grounds

Construction Updates - Charlottesville, VA - About Darden

Construction Underway

Great things are happening at the Darden School of Business Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia. Starting in spring 2021 and continuing to 2023, several construction projects, including a new inn and conference center and renovated alumni hall, will enhance Darden's award-winning Grounds. Here are the latest updates, including operations changes and FAQs.  

Two construction projects on Darden’s Charlottesville Grounds kicked off in January 2021:

  • Preparation for a new UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning
  • Mechanical upgrades through the North Grounds Mechanical Plant project

Two additional projects are scheduled to begin this spring: renovation of C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall and construction of an arboretum and botanical gardens. Construction will continue into 2023, when the inn is expected to be completed. 

The projects are part of the Darden Grounds Master Plan, a priority of the School’s $400 million Powered by Purpose campaign, which will ensure Darden’s Grounds remain among the world’s best. Learn more about the plan.

UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning

Work on this exciting project began in January 2021 with the demolition of Sponsors Hall. Plans for the new facility call for nearly 200 hotel rooms; 12,000 square feet of meeting, innovation and learning space, including a 6,500 square-foot ballroom; a destination restaurant; a lounge and café; and an outdoor green space and arboretum, with contemplative spaces and walking trails that will connect Darden and the UVA School of Law on North Grounds. 

Construction fencing and a fence wrap surround the project. To keep the community safe during construction, foot traffic has been redirected to the south side of Massie Road, crossing at the North Grounds Recreation Center side of Duffy Boulevard, where pedestrians can walk to Saunders Hall. View the map to see updates for foot and vehicle traffic, and learn more about the new inn and how to support its completion.

 

North Grounds Mechanical Plant Connection

To increase the efficiency and sustainability of Darden's heating and cooling, this project will create a connection between Darden and the North Grounds Mechanical Plant. Piping installation requires the temporary closure of the road in front of Saunders Hall starting on 8 February. Upon entering Duffy Boulevard to reach Darden, there will be traffic control. Parking will be removed from both sides of Duffy Boulevard, and traffic flow will be altered to accommodate traffic to either the Darden parking garage or the Faculty Office Building parking lot. View the map for updates on foot and vehicle traffic.

Handicapped access is maintained on the right side of the Saunders Hall stairs. Alternate handicapped access is available at the ground level of the Abbott Center auditorium lobby and Camp Library Building.

 

C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall

Adjacent to the existing inn, C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall will be renovated beginning in spring 2021. When complete, the building will house Darden's Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning and offices, and serve as a dynamic new home to welcome alumni and other visitors to the School. The project will be set off by construction fencing and fence wrap. Learn more about the renovation and how to support its completion.

Darden C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall rendering

 

Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

A five-acre arboretum and global botanical gardens will create dynamic new green spaces designed for outdoor collaboration and learning for the Darden and UVA communities. The site, located between the inn, Smith Alumni Hall and the UVA School of Law, will be developed concurrent with the new inn and conference center. Learn more about the arboretum and botanical gardens and how to support their completion.

Darden Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

 

Latest Updates

  • 22 January: Darden Construction Update

    Dear Darden Community,

    I write today to provide some updates on the various construction projects occurring here on Grounds at Darden in Charlottesville.  

    Inn at Darden: Last week kicked off demolition of current structures, starting with the Sponsors Hall i.Lab building. All utilities were successfully disconnected, construction fencing has been installed, a fence wrap is on its way, and the first bricks have come down. Please take a peek at our progress in this video clip produced by Darden Media. We expect demolition of the i.Lab to be completed this week, with the demolition of the East building of the Inn at Darden to begin early next week.

    Please remember that in order to keep our community safe during this time, we have redirected foot traffic to the South side of Massie Road crossing at the North Grounds Recreation Center side of Duffy Boulevard and on to Saunders Hall.  

    North Grounds Mechanical Plant Connection: Upon your return to the Charlottesville Grounds, you will notice some significant construction taking place in front of Saunders Hall. The crew will install piping into the ground level of Saunders Hall where our mechanical equipment is located. Work here will close the road in front of Saunders Hall starting on February 1st. Upon entering Darden, there will be traffic control, and either side of Duffy Boulevard will have parking removed and will become two lanes to accommodate traffic to either the Darden Garage or the Faculty Office Building Parking. There is a map attached so you know what to expect. 

    For those folks who are on foot, please note the handicapped access is maintained on the right side of the Saunders stairs, should it be required. There is alternate handicapped access at the ground level in the Abbott Center Auditorium Lobby and the Library Building.

    We will soon launch a webpage to respond to FAQs and provide additional information. Along with these regular email updates, we will do our best to keep all our colleagues, stakeholders, guests and friends well informed of our progress across various channels. 

    We appreciate your patience and thank you for “pardoning our dust” as we continue to strive to ensure Darden offers the best educational experience in the world.

    Best regards,
    Rachel & Dean

  • 12 February: Darden Construction Update

    Dear Darden Community,

    I write today to provide the latest updates on the various construction projects occurring here on Grounds at Darden in Charlottesville.  

    Inn at Darden: Demolition to the Sponsors Hall i.Lab building has been completed and Inn at Darden East building has been substantially completed.  The project is on track despite the recent wintry weather. Please note there will be another change in the traffic pattern this week, as the team works on the electrical bank at the entrance to Duffy Boulevard.  A new map is attached for reference.

    Please remember in order to keep our community safe during this time, we have redirected foot traffic to the South side of Massie Road crossing at the North Grounds Recreation Center side of Duffy Boulevard and on to Saunders Hall.  We are working to ensure this pathway is safe for all who travel by foot.

    North Grounds Mechanical Plant Connection: Construction to connect Darden to the North Grounds Mechanical Plant continues outside Saunders Hall for the next few weeks with traffic lanes to remain closed on Darden Boulevard at Saunders Hall. Please note access to Saunders hall is from the west (left as you face Saunders) side of the stairs, and the handicapped, elevator entrance is maintained on the right side of the Saunders stairs, should it be required. There is alternate handicapped access at the ground level in the Abbott Center Auditorium Lobby and the Library Building.

    We appreciate your patience and thank you for “pardoning our dust” as we continue to strive to ensure Darden offers the best educational experience in the world.

    Best regards,
    Rachel & Dean

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the current UVA Darden Inn closed?

    Yes, the inn closed in November 2020, and demolition began in January 2021.

  • Which buildings will be closed during construction?
    • Sponsors Hall has been demolished. The i.Lab has been relocated to the Darden Classroom Building.
    • The Inn at Darden has closed, and the majority of its structure will be demolished to make way for the new UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning.
    • Smith Hall will be closed once renovation begins in the spring and until project completion.
    • The Darden Exchange bookstore has closed and a full selection of Darden merchandise is available online at www.uvabookstores.com. A small selection of Darden merchandise and gifts is available at the UVA Law School Courts & Commerce and UVA Bookstore locations.
  • What will happen to the part of the inn that will remain intact?

    The portion of the Inn structure known as Smith Hall (across from the Camp Library) will be renovated to become the C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall. This building will house offices, the Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning and a welcome center for Darden alumni. 

  • Will there be any sidewalk closures?

    Yes. Please see our updated walking map.

  • Will construction result in any road closures in the area? Where and when?

    Yes. Construction may require road closures from time to time. We will report on closures in construction update emails to the Darden community. Construction updates will also be posted in the Latest Updates section of this page. See the latest map of traffic impacts.

  • Is the main entrance to Saunders Hall closed? How do I enter the building?

    The main entrance to Saunders is open. However, while operations are impacted by COVID-19, the main doors to Saunders are locked and require a current UVA ID for key pad access. All visitors should be met by their host at a predetermined entry point and should fill out the paper Hoos Health Check health attestation form.

    Key pad entry points are located at the Saunders Hall main and handicapped entrances; Classroom Building pavilion doors; Faculty Office Building pavilion entrances; Abbott Center Auditorium center, ground stairwell, ground arcade and Abbott Dining entrances; and Camp Library ground level exterior and interior, first floor exterior and first floor interior entrances.

  • If I’m a guest, where should I go upon arrival? Where can I go to ask questions?

    Guests should meet their host at a predetermined point of entry and fill out the paper Hoos Health Check health attestation form. The Saunders Hall reception desk and Office of Student Affairs receptions desks are staffed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Can I still park at Darden during construction? Where will I be able to park and how do I pay?

    The Darden D-10 parking garage and D-1 faculty lot are open. Please purchase an annual parking pass from UVA Parking and Transportation or use the Park Mobile app for less frequent parking needs.

  • What’s Darden doing to ensure the construction doesn’t impact my learning experience?

    Darden is monitoring all phases of construction and is working closely with construction partners WM Jordan, Mid-Atlantic Infrastructure Systems, Carr City Centers LLC and UVA Project & Construction Management Services to ensure the least amount of impact possible to the community at large. Thank you for “pardoning our dust” as we complete these projects to improve our facilities.

  • How long is construction going to last?

    Construction is expected to be completed by January 2023. The UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning is expected to be the final project completed.

  • How do I get permission to visit Grounds?

    All visitors must complete the Hoos Health Check health attestation form before visiting Grounds. Students, faculty and select staff are permitted to return to Grounds as needed, unless otherwise notified by School leadership. Remaining staff must be approved to return to a UVA worksite, even for a brief visit, by your manager and the Dean’s Office. Guests must have a host who secures approval for the guests’ visits.

    Visit the Coronavirus Information and School Operations site for the latest information on visiting Darden in Charlottesville, Virginia, and UVA Darden DC Metro in Arlington, Virginia.

  • Why is Darden building a new inn and conference center?

    The current inn has served the community well. However, the School has grown and changed since the inn was built several decades ago. The current facility no longer meets the growing needs of the School as a home base in Charlottesville for our many guests. The Economist has ranked Darden the No. 1 education experience in the United States nine years in a row, and a new inn and conference center will ensure the School's renowned education experience remains the world's best. 

  • Who will the inn serve once it is completed?

    The inn will serve Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning clients, Executive MBA and Master of Science in business analytics students during residencies, prospective students, corporate recruiters, alumni, and other guests.

  • When will I be able to book a room at the new inn?

    The inn is slated to open early 2023. Stay tuned for more information on when reservations will open.

  • Where can I find out more about these new facilities, such as what programming and amenities they will host?

    Learn more about the Darden Grounds Master Plan, including opportunities to support the completion of these projects that will ensure the School’s Grounds remain among the world’s best.

  • What is the North Grounds Mechanical Plant? Why is Darden undertaking this project?

    The North Grounds Mechanical Plant Connection Project establishes Darden’s physical connection to UVA’s North Grounds Mechanical Plant. Currently, Darden’s heating and cooling systems are located within Darden Grounds and have exceeded their life spans. This project will enhance Darden’s sustainability efforts and reduce its carbon footprint via a higher efficiency central plant to heat and cool the facilities.

  • What happened to the i.Lab?

    In late 2020, the W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory (i.Lab) moved from its original home in Darden’s Sponsors Hall near the UVA School of Law to a new, dynamic space in the School’s main classroom building — placing it at the very heart of the Darden student experience. 

    The “new” i.Lab boasts nearly 4,000 square feet of flexible workspace, makerspace and cutting-edge technologies. The glass-enclosed environment offers stunning views to the Darden Grounds and infuses the interior spaces with bright, natural light, encouraging experimentation and creativity.

    A large, flat classroom space was created through the combination of two theater-style classrooms. This new space is designed to support interactive learning and events — whether offered in-person, online or in a hybrid format. In addition, a fully equipped makerspace has been built. Here, students will have access to a comprehensive portfolio of innovation-ready resources, including movable workbenches, prototyping tools, 3D printers, writable wall space and a large video display for visualizing designs or data.  

    Developed in partnership with Darden’s Batten Institute, the new i.Lab and its programs will expand the possibilities for purpose-driven, entrepreneurial leaders to solve problems that matter.