University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
Brandon Avenue Upper Class Housing anchors the southern end of a new “green street” at the University of Virginia, achieving a visual presence that connects it back to the historic Central Grounds. The project intentionally interlocks building and landscape in a way that is vital to shaping community and creating a sustainable environment.
A central element of the design is the “secret garden” formed by the building’s U-shaped footprint. The building welcomes the community into the garden through an elegant and highly visible portal at the end Brandon Avenue, inviting its residents and those of nearby residence halls to gather. From the portal, the main residential entry is seen across the garden—a seven-story glass volume at the intersection of the East and South wings that places community study spaces on display.
The building’s first story is divided between student residential space and the new UVA Democracy Initiative, an interdisciplinary research and training enterprise. The remainder comprises 4-bedroom apartments (304 beds total), communal lounge and space, and six studio apartments for Resident Assistants.
The six-story building, which has two additional levels of below-grade parking, has masonry veneer walls with punched openings, optimized to provide daylight to the interiors, and cast stone panels at the base. The landscape design provides a variety of pleasant outdoor study, gathering, and recreational spaces and supports University-wide environmental goals including rainwater quantity and quality management, biodiversity, and canopy coverage.
The project embraces the three interrelated themes—Engage, Steward, and Discover—from UVA’s Sustainability Plan and seeks to demonstrate sustainability best practices; provide comfort and enhance wellness through daylighting, views, and non-toxic materials; and benchmark performance against reputable third-party building certification programs. Working closely with the sustainability consultant, the design team detailed the building and systems to meet the Passive House PHIUS+ certification without affecting the construction cost. In addition, the team followed the Living Building Challenge standards for materials selection for the building’s interiors.