Category Archives: Nature Observations/Views

Observatory Hill and New Dorms Area

The next spot our BioGrounds team visited is the New Dorms and Ohill surrounding area. Much to our surprise, some of the nature views in this location were spectacular. As you can see, following a beautiful snowy day, the views from New Dorms such as Lile-Maupin, Kellogg and Woody, provide students with a place to observe nature from amazing vantage points. All of these pictures were taken from the Common Rooms in these dorms suggesting that when architects were designing these dorms, they kept nature and nature views in mind, giving students a beautiful view of surrounding areas as a way to reduce the stresses and anxiety associated with school work and college life.

View from Lile-Maupin Dorm.
View from Woody Dorm.
View from Kellogg Dorm.
View from Lile-Maupin Dorm.


Furthermore, the layout of New Dorms as exemplified by these pictures below from Shannon dorm, is one with an expansive green quad that creates a place where students can come together, fostering an environment that promotes connectivity, community, and fun. All in all, the Observatory Hill and New Dorms area is a great example of how UVa has successfully integrated nature within urban form. Despite the presence of large dorms and numerous walkways, nature finds its way into the space creating an enhanced connection with the environment and exhibiting great Biophilic design.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 1.37.42 PM


Overall, as our BioGrounds project comes to a close, I can speak for the whole team saying that this project has given us a newfound understanding for the importance and benefits of integrating nature within building design. By going around the university and photographing the best nature views on grounds, we were surprised at the outstanding number of places where one could simply be doing homework or relaxing and be totally immersed in nature. It is Biophilic design strategies such as these that cities around the world need to begin to implement as a means to address our culture’s nature deficit disorder and bridge the urban-nature divide.

Post by Braden Casady

Culbreth Road and Lambeth Field Area

The area that ranges from the edges of Culbreth road to the colonnades of Lambeth Field contains a variety of excellent views of natural elements. These views include impressive deciduous and coniferous trees that provide adequate shading over the asphalt surfaces of the parking lots and intersecting roads. Within the area there are multiple housing units as well as the Architecture school that are infused with natural elements. The Architecture school has a modern design of open glass pane windows that allow for wide views of the natural surroundings. The gardens below the school are dotted with trees, tall grasses, and even green walls. Beyond these gardens, the Culbreth parking maintains a great view over Lambeth field as well as an amazing site of the Shenandoah Mountains in the distance.

The map below indicates the wide range of this area and in between the buildings and the roads is an extensive presence of nature. There are constant movements in the trees from nesting birds as well as the occasional Eastern Gray Squirrel that is native to the environment. The Altimeter indicates a high elevation that is indicative of the Charlottesville area. The day that this observation took place was cloudy with light rain which added to the ambience of the natural surroundings.



The photos below illustrate the diverse elements of natural views that are present in this area. There is a green wall that is currently in the development stage as it is part of the newly constructed Architecture school garden. The green walls as well as the tall grasses shown below are clearly visible from any window in the surrounding buildings. The tree besides Culbreth road overlooking Carrs hill field below exemplifies the high level of connection between nature and construction. The panoramic view above the parking garage shows that that in this area despite the proliferation of modern development, the natural environment holds on and is integrated into the entire setting. Therefore the residents and visitors in the area are connected to nature through the serenity of observation with the potential for interaction.


Post by Alexander Geronimos

Law School Landscape

While the University of Virginia School of Law is know around the nation for its academic rigor and prestigious alumni, it also home to some of the University’s most beautiful naturescapes. Built in the 1970s, the main part of the Law School consists of a collection of brick buildings surrounded by a park like setting.

Obs2-1Obs2-2The buildings are arranged so that they have courtyards between them that provide students and professors frequent access to nature. These courtyards, such as the Troutman Sanders Terrace and the Spice Gardens, include tables and benches for students to eat lunch and study.

Spies Garden
Spies Garden

Surrounding the buildings and courtyards, is an abundance of open green space where students can take a break from the crowded libraries and stressful mock courtroom trials to play frisbee or relax underneath a tree.


For the winter days when it’s too cold to leave the library, nature views can also be seen from inside the buildings, allowing students to experience nature, and the serenity associated with it, at all times.

Nature from inside Clay Hall. Photo from:
Nature from inside Clay Hall.
Photo from:

In addition to the nature found within the Law School, its campus is adjacent to The Park (at North Grounds), which includes soccer fields, baseball fields, and access to the Rivanna Trail. This gives students and professors places to play sports and take walks to recharge their minds and bodies during their lunch breaks.

Rivanna Trail Entrance adjacent to UVA Law.
Rivanna Trail Entrance adjacent to UVA Law.

The nature within the Law School’s campus provides an excellent way to incorporate nature into daily life at the University. It offers an important restorative place for the law students and professors to escape their stressful day.

Post by Liz Carpenter, Second-Year, Civil Engineering

Nature Observation

The nature observing team has decided to break Grounds up into three sections to best catalog where one can go to observe natural areas on and off the ‘beaten path’. Our three geographic areas of interest are North Grounds (including the Law School, Darden, and the U-Hall/JPJ area), Central Grounds (including Newcomb, the Lawn, and the Architecture School), and O-Hill and the surrounding area. Our plan is to select various locations around Grounds based on their ease of access and ability to enjoy nature (for instance, you can see mountains in the distance if you stand on the terrace of Rouss-Roberston Hall at the East side of the Lawn). Although we have not selected all of our spots yet, we are hoping to have a more solidified list by our next posting. Once our list is finalized, our tentative plan is to take photographs at each site and then use Google Maps to map out the line of sight (barring we are able to effectively use the technology).

Our next step is to get in touch with members of the photography club, since they would most likely know creative places to take pictures of nature scenes. Upon Professor Beatley’s recommendation, we are also going to reach out to Architecture Professor Guoping Huang, who is using GIS to map out areas around Grounds to contemplate.

Our first observation is from the patio area near Newcomb Hall and the University Bookstore. Standing near the top of the steps, one can see the Dell Pond on the opposite side of Emmet Street. The Dell is a pond area that hosts a variety of wildlife.

The Dell Pond:



The area outside Newcomb Hall where one can view the Dell:


The view of the Dell from the area outside Newcomb Hall:


Google Maps and Google Satellite view of the line of sight from Newcomb Hall to the Dell Pond:


Post by Taylor Henkel, Third-Year, Global Development Studies