McIntire is growing. From the community of alumni who proudly call themselves graduates of the Commerce School, to the number of faculty preparing future business leaders, to the proliferation of innovative programs like the pan-University Real Estate Minor—to even the very space it occupies on Grounds.
Yes, the McIntire Expansion Project is in full swing, preserving and renovating historic Cobb Hall (built in 1917) and constructing the new five-story Shumway Hall. The new structures will fuse traditional and contemporary architecture and, when ready for occupancy in the spring of 2025, will house newly conceived technological, entrepreneurial, and collaborative learning spaces, as well as satisfy practical needs such as accommodating a burgeoning community.
One of multiple construction sites at various stages of completion around UVA, the Expansion Project represents the Commerce School’s contribution to the built environment—a term that has been referenced more lately, especially in connection with real estate development. But what does it really mean, why is it significant, and how do the concepts behind it support McIntire’s vision as a facilitator for cross-Grounds partnerships, the diversity of expertise and ideas, as well as a home base for reinforcing the significance of commerce as an area of study and debate that ultimately impacts everyone?
Defining Terms, Exemplifying Ideals
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the built environment “touches all aspects of our lives,” including our homes; water and electricity distribution systems; and the roads, bridges, and transportation systems that take us from where we live to nearly everywhere else. Generally thought of as man-made or modified structures that are reliant on “enormous quantities of materials,” the built environment is the space where we live, work, and play.
Yet the built environment also includes the interdependencies supporting these spaces—everything from markets to political and social systems and much more. A healthy built environment supports an equally robust “un-built” environment and shows the important contours and connections between humans and natural systems.
Remaining conscious of all of the above has massive implications when moving mountains of dirt, especially for a school intent on promoting commerce being employed for positive purposes while supporting UVA in realizing the goal of its 2030 Strategic Plan to be “both great and good.” Reflective of the University’s goal to “cultivate the most vibrant community in higher education,” the McIntire Expansion Project—even in its current incomplete state—already highlights the importance of many professions and disciplines that serve as a source of strength for the University. And when the project is finished, the new spaces will allow the School to more nimbly approach that great and good ideal, as it invites and fosters novel scholarly consideration of commerce’s relationship with the built environment in Charlottesville and around the world.
A Collective Effort
According to Bryan Lewis, McIntire CIO and Assistant Dean for Operations who serves as Project Manager for the construction, the various processes involved in keeping the project on schedule embody the principles behind the built environment as the EPA definition defines it.
“It’s a perfect example of how the built environment can impact and improve our lives,” Lewis says, explaining that the project aims to create inclusive, inviting gathering spaces “designed around movement patterns that maximize human interactions.” Beyond that, it’s also a LEED Silver project, with sustainability considerations shaping the design. Those plans include bringing Cobb Hall up to 21st-century efficiency standards and “providing new amenities such as covered bike racks, shower facilities, and wellness spaces to allow the McIntire community more opportunities to commute, work, and gather together,” he says.
In overseeing the project, Lewis notes that the diversity of objectives devised, concerns voiced, and skills applied by those responsible and interested has accounted for an impressive range of views, interests, and abilities.
“In a project of this scale, there are hundreds of individuals who contribute to the finished product,” he says, pointing out that throughout the process, faculty, staff, and students have brought an array of perspectives that shaped the program plan. “That level of collaboration is also evident in the partnership between the construction team DPR and the architectural firms Robert A.M. Stern and Glavé & Holmes; the experiences represented across the team encompass hundreds of completed projects across the country.”
The teamwork across multiple groups respects and incorporates the know-how of multiple fields and the collective effort of people responsible for the project’s success; it is a demonstration of the work students complete in the School’s Real Estate Minor and serves as a demonstration of the diversity of disciplines and perspectives it takes to complete a building. Indeed, even for DPR to advance the construction, their efforts have required a great deal of coordination in order to keep disruptions to University services and student access to a minimum.
Shared Creativity—on the Rise
When asked about the project’s connection to the built environment, UVA Center for Real Estate and the Built Environment Director and McIntire Professor Drew Sanderford says that the work of distinguished University of Wisconsin—Madison Professor James Graaskamp comes to mind.
“Graaskamp argued that ‘a desirable real estate program or decision permits maximum satisfaction of the consumer within an affordable structure, while respecting environmental limits and natural resources, and permitting the space producers the chance to at least break even,’” Sanderford says. “He was famous for the notion that consumers, producers, and regulators are fundamentally inter-reliant, with each needing the other to be successful in their role.”
For Sanderford, the new Shumway Hall building and renovated Cobb Hall demonstrate Graaskamp’s argument in an academic environment: “Design, engineering, politics, leadership, finance, urban planning, community engagement, and ethics—among other disciplines—are all involved in creating an innovative space where we can reflect further on these and other topics.”
Much of the structural work has already been put into place for Cobb Hall, and exciting milestones are on the horizon for Shumway Hall. As each successive step is taken, and the School inches closer to the completion of the buildings, it more acutely displays the leadership and team-first approach that are at the core of McIntire’s culture and success.
“After working with stakeholders for over five years during design and construction, a word that resonates with me is creativity,” Lewis says. “There has been no shortage of challenges during the project, and our community has addressed them with inventiveness and ingenuity of thought that have kept the project moving forward.”
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