University of Virginia - John Paul Jones Arena

Charlottesville, VA
Construction Cost: $80 million
Area / Square Feet: 15,219
Occupancy Date: July 2006

The new home of Cavaliers basketball, the University of Virginia?s 15,219-seat John Paul Jones Arena features a horseshoe shape that allows distinct seating configurations for both athletic contests and cultural events. What particularly impressed the panel was the way the design joined a modern arena with the traditional exterior necessary to fit within its historic surroundings. Jeffersonian design elements are expressed in a modern aesthetic of brick and glass, with iconic columns forming pergolas on the east and west facades. The east pergola penetrates the outer shell and is revealed on the interior, creating a distinct backdrop for both performing arts and athletics.

At the entrance, the building?s volume is depressed below grade, reducing its scale to fit the pedestrian context in which the arena is set. Natural light adds unexpected warmth and depth along the outer concourses and in the main lobby. The arena?s configuration intentionally draws the upper seating bowl closer to the court, creating a more intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams and positioning private suites much closer to the floor.

Judge's Comments

The arena offers visual connection to the entry concourse and a remarkably intimate seating arrangement for a multiuse facility of this size.
— James Meyer

The design team cleverly solved the age-old problem of joining a modern arena facility with a traditional exterior design. Also, the interior spaces are simple and consistent with the facility's exterior architecture.
— Erik Kocher

The public spaces and arena have a very high level of finish that goes beyond the utilitarian, and the front entry is an appropriate response to Jefferson's campus. — Tom Scarlata