VMDO Architects

VMDO Architects

Charlottesville, VA | Washington, DC


University of Virginia Contemplative Commons

The University of Virginia’s new Contemplative Commons is a facility perhaps unprecedented in higher education. For this project, the University desires: a blend of academic classroom, research laboratory, immersive learning space, event space, innovation hub, and serene contemplative spaces usually relegated to a campus chapel or pristine garden. Its design will be iconic, while suited for the distinctive Grounds, and constitute experiential opportunities in the interior spaces and exterior gardens aligned with their goals of innovation, creativity, and well-being.

The University chose Aidlin Darling Design and VMDO Architects to begin design of the center in April 2016. The location for the new Comtemplative Commons is in the Dell, an 11-acre hybrid landscape that resurrects a buried stream and turned unused land into a state-of-the-art stormwater and forebay. Design of the Dell was completed by Nelson Byrd Woltz and VMDO in 2004.

The program will support a holistic approach to research by integrating data gathering measures for monitoring brain function, heart rate, and other metrics in real-time natural settings. Collection of biological and behavioral data will incorporate environmental data from multiple sensors such as temperature, humidity, and light. The program’s flexibility will support systematic assessment for a diversity of settings – including student classes, faculty-staff programs, patient interventions, research programs, and more.

Similar to the new Student Health Center, the Contemplative Commons will build relationships across disciplines, schools, and social sectors to support synergistic encounters that foster new ideas and innovative outcomes. The Commons will integrate design excellence, including biophilic design elements, with rigorous scientific research to create a center of health and generator of well-being on Grounds.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Charlottesville, VA, US
Firm Role: Architect of Record
Additional Credits: Lead Designer: Aidlin Darling Design