Commemorative Plaques

A wide variety of commemorative and memorial plaques can be found on The University of Virginia Grounds, from the Academical Village to North Grounds to the Health Sciences Center. These plaques are of four general categories:

  1. Memorial plaques honor deceased individuals who contributed greatly to the University or those who died in war. Such plaques often include a lengthy inscription and a list of those honored. Memorial plaques must be approved by the University's Board of Visitors.
  2. Historic markers commemorate historic events, structures or significant individuals. Such plaques are usually more descriptive than other types, since they recount specific events or structures or outline a person's career. All historical markers must be approved by the University's Board of Visitors.
  3. Building Dedicatory Plaques are required of all new University buildings and are standardized into two types. The first is typical, identifying the building, date, University President, Rector and the architect of record. The second is used when a building is to be named for an individual.
  4. Interior Recognition Plaques include donor recognition and those installed in specific spaces such as classrooms, conference rooms and auditoriums within buildings named for individuals, corporations or foundations. Such plaques tend to be more related to context and should be specifically designed in conjunction with the intended location. Interior recognition plaques within new buildings shall be professionally designed as part of the building's signage system and interior finishes.
    Exterior Recognition Plaques include donor recognition and those installed as part of specific exterior projects such as gardens, courtyards, fountains, gateways, statuary, etc., which are named for individuals, corporations or foundations. (Memorial trees may not have plaques; memorial benches have specific plaque requirements.)


All University plaques must abide by specific procedures and design guidelines, see below.

Approval Procedure

Procedure for Memorial Plaques and Historic Markers:

An organization or department of the University wishing to erect a memorial plaque or historic marker must first contact the Office of the Architect. The Office of the Architect will seek approval of plaque concept from the Office of the President. If the concept is acceptable, then the Office of the Architect, the Office of the President, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and the Secretary of the Board of Visitors will work in conjunction to determine plaque content, location and design. All plaques of this type must also be approved by the Board of Visitors.

Procedure for Dedicatory and Recognition Plaques:

Dedicatory and recognition plaques must be reviewed and approved by the Office of the Architect and the Office of the President for content, location and conformance to standards. Buildings and interior or exterior spaces that are named for individuals, corporations or foundations must be submitted to the Naming and Memorials Committee. Building dedicatory plaques are included as part of all new building projects. It is the responsibility of the project manager to initiate the plaque approval process and to ensure that the project architect incorporates such plaques into the contract documents.

Design Guidelines

The materials selected for commemorative plaques must respond to two different conditions of installation; 1) those placed in walkways, and 2) those mounted on walls. Plaques installed in exterior walkways can be bluestone or gray granite. Plaques installed in protected walkways or mounted on interior or exterior walls shall be slate. Exceptions for material for interior plaques may be made in order to respond to specific architectural context with approval by the Office of the Architect.

Materials for interior recognition plaques must be appropriate to the building's interior finishes, signage system and context. Polished brass and stainless steel are two commonly used materials for this type of plaque.

Memorial plaques, despite location, are typically cast bronze.

Following is a reference table for plaque standards (excluding interior recognition plaques):

  Stone Metal
Material: Depending on location-
Slate, bluestone or gray granite
Cast bronze
Memorial Plaque Only
Edge: Beveled or straight Beveled and/or raised
Fonts: Palatino Palatino
Font Sizes: Minimum 5/8" Minimum 1/2"
Border: None None
Plaque Size: 24"x16" or 24"x30"
24"x16" or 24"x30"
Mounting: Surface or flush
mount on walls;
flush on walkways
Surface mount
Siting: For wall-mounted plaques, eye level whenever possible and always in accordance with the aesthetic consideration of the location. Plaques installed in walkways should be incorporated into adjacent paving material patterns. If set in brick, the plaque shall have a 4" or 8" brick border.

Proper names should be capitalized and in a larger size than the text. 1-1/8" to 1-1/4" is recommended. Titles following names such as Jr., Sr., M.D., etc., should also be capitalized, but in a slightly smaller type size. 1" is recommended. Palatino upper and lower case italics are recommended for the descriptive text. Proper names occurring in the text may be straight Palatino in a slightly larger size or simply capitalized.

The name of the honored person and the dates of birth and death should be the most visible components of the inscription. A brief description of the relationship of the individual to the University should appear immediately below the name. Wording of the text should be precise and as durable and meaningful as possible. The year of installation should be included on all plaques.