New UVA Inn at Darden, Arboretum, Botanical Gardens to Enhance the Darden Academic Experience

By Jay Hodgkins

Discussion, collaboration, enlightenment — these were the core ideals sought at the University of Virginia’s founding through the original design of the Academical Village.

The University’s Darden School of Business is now taking the lead to ensure those ideals to cultivate an environment in which students and faculty can live and learn from one another are exemplified on North Grounds.

With the support of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, construction of the new Frank M. Sands Sr. (MBA ’63) UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning, proposed for the Darden School of Business Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, is set to begin later this academic year with completion in 2023. The School has also planned a landscape-transforming arboretum and botanical gardens that will surround the inn and conference center and renovated C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall.

Together, the new indoor and outdoor spaces will strengthen Darden’s Charlottesville Grounds as among the best and most beautiful in the world. They will also contribute to UVA’s sense of community in North Grounds, creating a gathering place next door to the School of Law and The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School and connecting to the Rivanna Trail via walking paths. The facilities are a short walk from UVA’s John Paul Jones Arena and the home fields of UVA’s national championship-winning baseball, soccer and lacrosse programs, as well as the softball program’s brand new Palmer Field.

As the projects approach the start of construction, the School is seeking additional philanthropy to deliver its vision for the new facilities, which will enhance the academic experience for all Darden stakeholders, including degree-program students, faculty and staff, corporate partners, lifelong learners, and other guests with reimagined areas that encourage community, health and well-being, collaboration and learning.

“Darden has always aspired to excellence in its Grounds and buildings, and the School has been blessed with its beautiful Goodwin Grounds and iconic architecture. Yet reinvesting in our Grounds has become essential as Darden has grown its number of degree formats and students and peer business schools have recently cut ribbons on new, state-of-the-art facilities,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “Darden has long set the bar with its distinguished Grounds. We must protect and elevate our full-time MBA, Executive MBA and Master of Science in business analytics degree programs; enhance our Executive Education and Lifelong Learning experience; and make Darden the place to convene academic and business events by improving our inn, conference spaces and other facilities — which have not been upgraded in two decades — to a new level.”

Sneak Peek: UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning

The rear terrace of the new inn and conference center will feature an elevated view of the arboretum and botanical gardens.
The inn and conference center will feature state-of-the-art meeting and event spaces among its many amenities.
The inn and conference center will feature convenient entrance points to the facility and arboretum and gardens.
Artist rendering of a key arrival point
Artist rendering of the executive board room at the inn and conference center
Concepts for the ballroom at the inn and conference center
Floor plan for a guest room at the inn
Artist rendering of the pub and sports bar/coffee shop at the inn and conference center
Artist rendering of the orangerie/veranda at the inn and conference center

Part of Darden’s Grounds Master Plan, a major component of one of the four priorities of the $400 million Powered by Purpose campaign, the new inn and conference center for lifelong learning will celebrate the architectural precedents from around UVA Grounds and surrounding areas, offering 199 hotel rooms, a 12,000-square-foot learning and conference center, a destination restaurant, a coffee shop, and a pub. All will be open to the public and UVA community, and Darden has substantial covered and outdoor parking available.

The Inn will be certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council. Darden reached its goal to become carbon neutral in 2018 when the UVA Hollyfield solar facility came online.

Large windows and beautiful outdoor terraces will overlook the arboretum and botanical gardens, providing visitors and guests with opportunities to collaborate, socialize and relax.

Graciously appointed interiors will provide the perfect framework for guests to gather, explore and learn. The facilities will extend Darden’s leadership as a provider of executive education and lifelong learning and support the School’s degree programs as a resource for students, faculty, staff, Darden and UVA alumni, parents and special guests.

Facility amenities will include an executive board room, tiered and flat classrooms, ballroom for large events, library, private dining room and wine cellar, hotel bar, pub and coffee shop, and additional meeting spaces, operational year-round.

All donors supporting the inn and conference center at the $100,000 and above level will receive special recognition as a sponsor of the project. Corporate sponsors are welcome and multiyear arrangements can be considered. Among the naming opportunities in and around the inn and conference center available at various levels of generous support include:

  • Featured spaces ($2 million to $5 million)
  • Academic spaces ($500,000 to $1 million)
  • Event and meeting spaces ($200,000 to $1 million)
  • Arrival points ($5,000 to $1 million)
  • Outdoor spaces ($250,000 to $1 million)
  • Hospitality ($75,000 to $500,000)
  • Guest rooms and suites ($25,000 to $200,000)

Sneak Peek: Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

A site concept plan highlights the features of the planned arboretum and botanical gardens.
An overhead view of the arboretum and botanical gardens from behind the inn and conference center
The arboretum and botanical gardens will include water features, access to the Rivanna Trail, an outdoor classroom and new meeting locations.
A view of the inn and conference center from a portion of the arboretum
Artist rendering of a thematic garden behind the renovated C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall
A concept for an arrival point into the arboretum and botanical gardens
The arboretum and botanical gardens will include many communal spaces for educational and social gatherings.

Also part of the Grounds Master Plan, the new green spaces will connect Darden to the Rivanna Trail, and help create an open seamless connection with the School of Law. The overall site is about 12 acres and connects to native forest, providing miles of trails and pathways for guests and community members. The area will provide opportunities for outdoor education, collaboration and contemplative spaces for wellness as part of Darden’s commitment to a healthy, sustainable work and educational environment.

The botanical gardens will feature thematic gardens, such as a magnolia garden; a Chinese hydrangea and peony garden; a Japanese garden; and other features, such as an outdoor classroom, a pond and a restored stream. Darden seeks a lead gift to name the botanical gardens.

The arboretum has been supported by a generous lead gift from George (MBA ’86) and Laurel Tahija, and will feature specimen trees from around the world and Virginia. This major project of the Darden School Foundation will provide contemplative spaces to increase health and wellness, provide outdoor meeting spaces, dramatically improve the experience of our guests and increase opportunities for lifelong learning. It will also provide educational opportunities to learn about the tree species in the arboretum, with many mature specimen trees already growing in the space.

All donors supporting the arboretum and botanical gardens at the $100,000 and above level will receive special recognition as a sponsor of the projects. Gifts will help maintain unparalleled green spaces that enhance Darden’s world-renowned education experience for students, faculty, alumni and guests for years to come. Among the naming opportunities within the arboretum and gardens available at various levels of generous support include:

  • Featured spaces ($5 million)
  • Varietal thematic gardens ($250,000 to $500,000)
  • Woodlands and clearings ($150,000 to $250,000)
  • Communal spaces ($250,000 to $1 million)
  • Walks and trails ($250,000 to $500,000)
  • Arrival points ($5,000 to $1 million)
  • Aquatic oases ($500,000 to $1.5 million)

Contact Interim Vice President for Advancement Samantha Hartog at or +1-434-982-2151 to learn more about naming opportunities on Darden Grounds.

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.


Press Contact

Molly Mitchell
Associate Director of Content Marketing and Social Media
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia