University of Virginia


Student Union Feasibility Analysis

A very important concept for planning at the University of Virginia is creating and preserving a sense of community. The UVA community has historically been successful in using the concept developed by Thomas Jefferson to create a place that encourages student/faculty interactions both inside and outside the classroom. This environment allows students to take ownership and pride in the university and their educational experience. As a result, UVA students have a long history of involvement and leadership, characteristics that have been exemplified in the ideals of self-governance and the honor system. B&D was retained by UVA in 2002 to perform market and financial analyses in support of the development of a campus life program for Central Grounds. The plan included reviewing the existing student union facility, the 165,000 SF Newcomb Hall, which had significant operating, technical, and wayfinding issues. We completed a market analysis which included interviews with user groups, demographic analysis, focus groups, and Internet surveys of students and faculty. An outline program was then developed which responded to the market demand for various services and activity spaces. Subsequently, the program was compared to the existing supply of program spaces, and a list of priorities was established. We also completed a financial analysis that developed the university’s debt capacity for the proposed program and reconciled the outline program with the projected debt capacity, along with site analysis diagrams testing the program on various potential sites. In 2012 the university completed a $33 million renovation/expansion project to Newcomb Hall that added 15,000 SF to the facility.


When it was built in 1958, Newcomb Hall was considered to be the first of its kind.