Page B1.1 . 18 July 2007                     
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    Virginia Arena

    by Brian Libby

    When designing the new basketball arena for the University of Virginia, local Charlottesville firm VMDO Architects had two significant legacies to uphold.

    First there was the celebrated campus, originally designed by Thomas Jefferson, and symbolized by the Pantheon-inspired Rotunda (circa 1826) and the extensive green Lawn upon which it sits. The university grounds were the first in America to be centered upon a library (then housed in the Rotunda) rather than a church.

    Then there was the legacy of the Virginia basketball team's membership in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, where keeping up with legendary programs like Duke’s and North Carolina’s takes not only the best players and coaches, but also superlative facilities. Legendary basketball arenas like Duke's Cameron Indoor Gymnasium and UCLA's Pauley Pavilion are not only hallowed ground to fans, but also key money-makers for their respective universities, and also, in some cases, architectural symbols seen by millions of people on television.

    By 2005, when University Hall served its last year as host to Cavaliers basketball, the 8,457-seat arena from the mid-1960s had seen better days. Today new college basketball arenas are being built across the country to replace the bare-bones old field houses and gymnasiums of yesteryear.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Front facade of the John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia, designed by VMDO Architects.
    Photo: VMDO Architects / Prakash Patel

    ArchWeek Image

    Entry lobby of the arena.
    Photo: VMDO Architects / Prakash Patel


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