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$120 million gift from Jaffray and Merrill Woodriff launches university’s school of data science
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$120 million gift from Jaffray and Merrill Woodriff launches university’s school of data science

Gilbane Building Company announced the successful completion of construction of the University of Virginia’ s cutting-edge School of Data Science building.

Thanks to the significant $120 million donation from the Quantitative Foundation, the private family foundation of Jaffray and Merrill Woodriff, for the establishment of a School of Data Science, this project became a reality.

The design process commenced in January 2020 with architectural teams from Hopkins Architects, VMDO, and the University’s Office of the Architect. Groundbreaking took place in October 2021, with construction led by the Gilbane Building Company. “This beautiful and unique new space gives students, faculty, and staff a home base for research and teaching that intersects with schools and disciplines across Grounds and beyond,” said University President Jim Ryan.

The new home of the School of Data Science is located at the east entrance of the Emmet-Ivy Corridor, a UVA expansion project that will also include a building for the Karsh Institute of Democracy, a hotel, a conference center, as well as a proposed performing and visual arts center. This four-story, 61,000-square-foot facility for the School of Data Science embodies the core principles of openness and collaboration that drive the school’s mission.

Designed with open hallways, a spacious atrium, monumental stairs, adaptive classrooms, and research and meeting areas, the building promotes a culture of innovation and teamwork. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with UVA on this cutting-edge facility that creates opportunity for collaborative, open, and responsible data science research and education as the school’s goals state,” said Maggie Reed, Gilbane’s Richmond, Virginia, Business Leader. “While we helped build a physical building to house the program, we are excited about what this school without walls will create in the future.”

An interactive data sculpture, designed by SoSo Limited and built by Hypersonic, will be a unique feature of the building, allowing visitors to engage with data sets and explore various data stories. The sculpture, hanging from a skylight at the building’s core, will be visible from the street and every floor. Inclusivity is a priority, and the facility features a wellness space, a lactation space, and non-gendered restrooms, making it a welcoming environment for all. Sustainability is a crucial focus, evident in the LEED Gold-certified green building design.

Solar panels, daylighting strategies, and shading systems reduce the need for artificial lighting. The School of Data Science will receive 15% of its power from solar energy provided by four arrays of solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of its soon-to-open new home. This aligns with UVA’s Sustainability Plan, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030 and fossil fuel-free status by 2050.

UVA is an iconic public institution of higher education, boasting nationally ranked schools and programs, diverse and distinguished faculty, a major academic medical center, and a proud history as a renowned research university.

 The community and culture of the University are enriched by active student self-governance, sustained commitment to the arts, and a robust NCAA Division I Athletics program. In its third century, the University of Virginia offers an affordable, world-class education consistently ranked among the nation’s best. As one of the nation’s leading public institutions, UVA pushes the boundaries of what’s possible- always in the name of the greater good. One of the things that makes this possible is an unswerving commitment to initiatives that grow, strengthen, and shape our institution for the future.

Jaffray Piers Woodriff is the co-founder and CEO of Quantitative Investment Management (QIM), a $1 billion hedge fund. Woodriff founded QIM with Michael Geismar and Greyson Williams in 2003. Woodriff attended the University of Virginia from 1987 to 1991.

QIM is run out of Woodriff’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. Woodriff uses a “Black Box” statistical approach to making investing decisions.

Forbes listed Woodriff as one of the highest-paid fund managers in 2011. In 2012 Jack Schwager’s book “Hedge Fund Market Wizards” profiled Woodriff as one of the top hedge fund managers in the world at that time.

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