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Scaffolding Update: New Roof Slated for Old Cabell Hall

Jan 05, 2015 |

Both ends of the University of Virginia’s Lawn feature scaffolding these days. While work continues on the Rotunda enovations, crews are now starting to replace the roof on Old Cabell Hall.

Workers from CHU Contracting Inc. of Chantilly have begun the process of re-roofing the building, a $1.3 million task that should be complete by the beginning of April.

Old Cabell Hall had all of its roofing systems replaced in 2014-15.
Dan Addison / University Communications

“We’re going to have a full replacement of all roofing systems,” said Zachary Brackett, construction administration manager for Facilities Management, who oversees the project with Shannon Barras, a senior project manager, and Randy Porter, senior construction administration manager. “Some portions of the roof are reaching the end of their normal lives.”

The building has a combination of slate and rubber roofs. Brackett noted that rubberized sections of the roof are about 30 years old, which is a full lifespan for them. The slate roofs on the east and west wings of the building have been replaced before, but the slate on the barrel portion of the building, with the exception of some as-needed repairs, is still original – meaning it dates back to the building’s completion in 1898.

Old Cabell Hall houses the McIntire Department of Music, and Brackett said Facilities Management and the contractors are working with the building’s tenants to minimize the impact of the work.

“Last week was final [exams] and we were putting the scaffolding up,” he said. “We will know more once classes are back in session and we can see how the noise impacts operations.”

He said that the disruption may be more of an issue in New Cabell Hall, the classroom building which wraps around the back side of Old Cabell Hall.

Old Cabell Hall was designed by New York architect Stanford White, of the firm McKim, Mead and White, who re-envisioned Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda after it was heavily damaged in a fire in 1895. That fire destroyed the Annex, an extension on the north side of the Rotunda that contained classrooms, offices and an auditorium space. The University’s Board of Visitors commissioned White to build three buildings to replace the space lost when the Annex was destroyed. White designed Cocke Hall, Rouss Hall and Cabell Hall, closing in the southern end of the Lawn.

Construction of Old Cabell Hall, initially called the Academical Building, started in 1896 and the building opened in 1898. The auditorium in the Annex had contained a copy of Raphael’s “School of Athens,” which was reproduced in the auditorium of Cabell Hall.

More recently, painter Lincoln Perry completed an 11-panel mural titled “The Student’s Progress” in the building’s central hall.

All three buildings at the southern end of the Lawn were built into the hillside, with their front entrances on their upper floors, to subordinate them to the Rotunda.

“The design is very respectful of the Lawn,” said Brian Hogg, senior preservation planner in the Office of the Architect for the University. “White used the topography to suppress the height of the buildings, and they are below the level of the Lawn.”

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