UVA Darden Announces Plans for New Inn and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning

03 April 2019

By Jay Hodgkins

Following concept and site guidelines approval and schematic design review from the University of Virginia Board of Visitors in late February, the UVA Darden School of Business announced plans to modernize its facilities on the University’s North Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a new inn, conference center for lifelong learning and arboretum to enhance the world’s best education experience (The Economist, 2011–18).

Along with the new UVA Darden Sands Family Grounds in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., area, this investment will help advance Darden’s impact in Executive Education and Lifelong Learning and commitment to an unparalleled residential experience.

The new facility will feature up to 200 hotel rooms; up to 12,000 square feet of meeting, innovation and learning space, including a ballroom of up to 6,500 square feet; a destination restaurant; a lounge; and a cafe. Contiguous to the facility is a beautifully designed outdoor green space and arboretum. The five-acre arboretum features outdoor classrooms; specimen trees; contemplative natural green spaces; a water feature; and trails that will connect the Darden Grounds, UVA School of Law Grounds and the adjacent Rivanna Trail.

Construction of the estimated $90 million project is expected to begin in early 2020 with the phased demolition of much of the existing Inn at Darden and other site preparation. The pavilions that make up C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall will be renovated and repurposed at the completion of the project.

The new facility will upgrade the existing 180-room Inn at Darden, parts of which were built over 40 years ago. Offering an outstanding hospitality, education and conference center is essential to Darden’s academic mission to deliver transformational learning experiences. The spaces will dramatically increase programming opportunities and serve as a world-class resource for the greater Darden and UVA communities, including full-time MBA and Executive MBA students, Darden Executive Education and Lifelong Learning clients, corporate partners and recruiters, alumni, and other stakeholders and distinguished guests from around the world.

“The renewal of these spaces will catapult the experience we offer to the next level and truly make Darden an oasis for lifelong learning like no other,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “Darden has always aspired to have the best business school Grounds in the world, and this is a further step in that direction.”

Darden’s Master Plan — of which the new inn and conference center in Charlottesville are key components — will enable the School to deliver lifelong learning programs in the D.C. area, in Charlottesville and virtually at the highest quality.

Darden’s integrated, executive-level facilities in Charlottesville combine — all within walking distance — world-class dining, executive hotel accommodations, state-of-the-art classrooms and study rooms, and recently renovated exercise facilities at the adjacent North Grounds Recreation Center. Also nearby is the John Paul Jones Arena, the largest arena in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which offers major sporting events and live entertainment acts.

The project is expected to be funded through capital from the Darden School Foundation, third-party debt and philanthropy. Significant naming opportunities for the inn, conference center and arboretum remain. The project has benefitted from early support from Darden alumni, friends and several members of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees.

“This is a monumental opportunity for the Darden School,” said Elizabeth Weymouth (MBA ’94), chair of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees. “This vital project will allow the School to realize the vision of creating world-class facilities and amenities to support the Darden community.”

The new facility, expected to be completed in 2023, is designed by Cooper Carry Architects of Atlanta, Georgia, with Glave & Holmes of Richmond, Virginia, and consultation from Smith + McClane Architects of Richmond, Virginia, in collaboration with the Darden School Foundation and UVA’s Office of the Architect.

The site plan will provide pedestrian circulation between the hotel, Darden, UVA School of Law and the rest of North Grounds. The rear terrace of the facility will feature an elevated view of the arboretum, which also provides an environmentally sustainable storm water solution.

“This ambitious reimagining of the Darden Grounds in Charlottesville will raise the bar to a new level in graduate business education,” said Kirsti Goodwin (MBA ’02), trustee of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees and chair of the Building and Grounds Committee.

View artist renderings of the new inn, conference center and arboretum below.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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