The University of Virginia Darden School of Business broke ground on a long-awaited construction project in early 2021, the beginning of a two-year process that will elevate Darden’s Grounds, instructional resources and convening capabilities through the addition of a new inn and conference center for lifelong learning, arboretum and botanical gardens.
Construction on the project, which forms part of the Darden Grounds Master Plan, began with the razing of Sponsors Hall, including the space that was home to the W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory (i.Lab), which transitioned to a new space in Darden’s Classroom Building.
Sponsors Hall and the UVA Inn at Darden, which has also been demolished, are now a construction site that will become the new Frank M. Sands Sr. (MBA ’63) UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning, a modern inn and conference center featuring 199 hotel rooms, a conference center, flat and tiered classroom space, a restaurant, pub and coffee shop, among other features.
UVA has committed to making all new buildings and renovations compliant with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, and the new Inn will meet or exceed UVA’s current green building standards. Energy efficient, sustainable building standards are part of UVA’s climate goals to be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil fuel-free by 2050. The Darden School reached carbon neutrality in 2018 as a result of the UVA Hollyfield solar project.
The project, which received $20 million in initial support from Sands Sr., will benefit the Darden School and UVA in many ways. The modern facility will provide an essential hub and lodging location for Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning participants, prospective students visiting Grounds, Executive MBA and Master of Science in business analytics students completing Charlottesville residencies, and the broader UVA and Charlottesville community.
The inn is scheduled to open early in 2023.
In addition to the new physical structure, the surrounding landscape is also in the process of being transformed into a new arboretum and botanical garden. Like the new structure, the greenspaces will be constructed with sustainability in mind, and aim to both bolster health and wellness and enhance the connectivity between Darden, the UVA School of Law and all of North Grounds. The spaces will enable a variety of activity, including classes, outdoor meetings, and quiet contemplation, enhancing the overall educational experience at the school and providing new outdoor opportunities for the community.
The arboretum and botanical gardens will feature a variety of thematic gardens, including a Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden, International Edibles Garden and a Prehistoric Plants Garden, among others. Additional features will include a pond, a restored stream and a variety of walking trails. The arboretum will also connect to the Rivanna Trail, further joining North Grounds to the broader community.
The School seeks additional philanthropy to help drive the projects to completion.
Join Dean Scott Beardsley on 20 April for an in-depth discussion on the ongoing construction at the Darden School as part of virtual Reunion week.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia