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

  • 29 March: 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 has been completed, and the site work for utilities and the foundation of the new Inn has begun. The separation of the Inn at Darden West building from the portion of the building to remain has been completed and the project remains on track despite the rainy weather. The traffic pattern this week will close the entry to Darden as in past weeks, as the team continues work on the electrical bank at the eastbound entrance to Duffy Boulevard. A 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 hope you have found the improvements to signage helpful in ensuring 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 and a new traffic pattern is in place today which will have the brick drive at Abbott and the Library closed.  Please see the attached map. The new pattern will remain in place until mid-May as the project moves north down Darden Boulevard toward the parking garage. The brick and sod in front of Saunders Hall will be restored to their original condition starting in mid-April.


    Saunders Hall Cupola Repair: Repairs to the cupola in Saunders Hall are underway. The repairs are resolving leaks and water damage to both the inner and outer structure. Scaffolding remains outside on the Whisnand Terrace, and the spider lift installed inside the Pepsi Co Forum should be removed by mid-April. The project is slated to complete in the latter half of April.

    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

  • 9 May: Darden Construction Update

    Dear Darden Community,

    I write today to provide the latest updates and information on new traffic patterns due to the construction projects occurring on Darden’s Charlottesville Grounds. Please note you can always refer to the Grounds construction updates page on Darden’s website for the most up-to-date information. We hope this will help answer any questions you have regarding projects and will enable you to see the latest on our progress.

    Inn at Darden: Demolition to all the Inn at Darden building has been completed. The temporary enclosure wall of the remaining Inn at Darden West building has been completed and the work to finalize plans to renovate the building including Smith Hall continues. Footings and retaining walls are being poured for the conference wing this week and the tower crane will be installed. The project remains on track despite weather and issues found in the soil, typical of this type of project.

    North Grounds Mechanical Plant: Work in front of Saunders Hall to connect the hot and chill water pipes to the mechanical room is just about complete. Sod will be installed and all walkways should be open by the end of the week.  Work continues in front of Smith Hall and will cross the road in front of the parking garage. 

    Saunders Hall Cupola: Work on the cupola is wrapping up and scaffolding should be removed by the end of the week or early the week following.

    Traffic Patterns: There will be two changes in the traffic pattern this week. On Monday Darden Boulevard will be closed in front of Smith Hall requiring traffic to be re-routed in front of the Darden Library and the Abbott Center.  There will be two-way traffic on the brick drive and parking is not permitted at any time. Please see the attached map.

    On Thursday, WM Jordan will begin installing the tower crane via gate 5 at the entry to Darden Grounds on Duffy Boulevard. Please see the attached map for re-routing Thursday and Friday of this week.

    As always remember keeping our community safe is a priority.  Please follow the signed foot and driving patterns and use caution as you enter Grounds and drive along Massie Road. 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 and Dean

  • 30 July: Darden Construction Update

    Dear Darden Community,

    I write today to provide the latest updates on Darden construction projects occurring in Charlottesville. I would also like to remind you of the link to our new Grounds construction update page on Darden’s website. This email aims to provide you with information and recent progress on several major projects underway and to hopefully answer some questions you may have as you plan to return to Grounds. 

    Inn at Darden: To date, all demolition and much of the groundwork is complete. The groundwork on the residential wing will be finalized this month. Construction on both the Conference Wing and Main House has begun. In addition to concrete slabs and walls, steel framing is now rising a few stories into the air. We hope you are as excited as we are to see the buildings taking shape.  As a reminder, the Darden Inn project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of calendar year 2023.

    There continues to be lots of activity in and around the Darden Inn construction site, so please keep safety in the forefront of your mind as you enter Grounds. For everyone’s safety, including that of the construction team members, please be mindful of your speed, surroundings, and crosswalk traffic.


    North Grounds Mechanical Plant Connection: Construction to connect the Darden facilities to the North Grounds Mechanical Plant is very close to being finalized. Work in front of Saunders Hall concluded prior to Graduation weekend (May 2021), and work has transitioned to areas closer to the North Grounds Mechanical Plant and the Law School. When complete, the project will provide Darden with a more sustainable and efficient heating and cooling system.

    Completion of the project work in the area in front of Darden will conclude with the repaving work on Darden Boulevard scheduled to begin on Monday, August 2. Please see the attached map with the repaving schedule and note the single traffic lane to the Garage. 

    Saunders Hall Cupola Repair: In the spring, Darden completed necessary repairs to the Saunders Hall cupola.

    Darden Classroom Renovations: Over the summer, renovations have taken place across all first floor and second floor classrooms, including the addition of classroom windows, updating the flooring and finishes and replacing classroom chairs. The project will be mostly completed in August before the start of classes. Subsequent work to fully complete the project, including exterior window millwork, installation of new doors and mechanical shades, and replacement of student worktables (and replacing final shipment of chairs currently delayed in supply chain logistics), will take place early this fall with student tables completing the project later this academic year.

    Abbott Dining Room Refresh: The Abbott Dining room features several upgrades, including new lighting, new flooring, and new tables and chairs, which will arrive soon. As we return to Grounds beginning in August, this refresh to our community dining area will be an important part of re-connecting and enjoying each other’s company and conversation.

    Smith Hall Redevelopment Project: Renovation on Smith Hall is currently scheduled to begin later in 2021, and when complete, will provide much needed office and meeting spaces, particularly for the Darden School Foundation, including the Advancement and Executive Education and Lifelong Learning teams.

    As you might have heard on the news, supply chains have been moving slowly, and we are doing are best to complete projects as quickly as possible. We are sure there is at least one case study being written on the subject. 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

  • 31 October: Darden Construction Update

    Dear Darden Community,

    This week, we will begin the Smith Hall Redevelopment Project.  The C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall will be renewed and updated to become the new home for the Executive Education and Lifelong Learning team, Engagement and Advancement teams, and the Darden School Foundation.  It will also serve as a central location to welcome Alumni and other visitors to the school.  The project is essential to providing our community with much needed office and meeting space, as well as an additional connection to the new Inn at Darden and the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

    Smith Hall is the former location of the Darden Exchange Bookstore and the west portion of the Inn at Darden. It is located between the new Inn at Darden and the Camp Library. You should expect to see more construction traffic and activity and we ask you to take caution as you navigate both driving and walking around that area of Grounds. I will continue to provide updates throughout the project and let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

    Best regards-

    Rachel and 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.