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Architecture at the University of Virginia after Jefferson

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For those of you familiar with the Grounds at the University of Virginia, you no doubt know about Thomas Jefferson's Lawn. In a misguided attempt to honor Jefferson's masterpiece, the University's administration and Board of Visitors have repeatedly commissioned buildings which deny the lessons of Jefferson's architecture and instead force the hands of the architects building new structures by seemingly only requiring as much brick and as many white columns as possible. I'm interested in seeing what readers of Urban Planet have to say about the professors' open letter:

http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:zFSJI...COMMUNITY&hl=en

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For those of you familiar with the Grounds at the University of Virginia, you no doubt know about Thomas Jefferson's Lawn. In a misguided attempt to honor Jefferson's masterpiece, the University's administration and Board of Visitors have repeatedly commissioned buildings which deny the lessons of Jefferson's architecture and instead force the hands of the architects building new structures by seemingly only requiring as much brick and as many white columns as possible. I'm interested in seeing what readers of Urban Planet have to say about the professors' open letter:

http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:zFSJI...COMMUNITY&hl=en

You know, its funny, but I had always wondered how the architecture department felt about that, and that statement pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

I am in total disagreement with the academics, as I think they just want a place to show off their l33t modern design skillz. 'Look at me design a truly unoriginal-attempt-to-be-original modern glass building like every other city/university/public building/open space in the world.' I think they limit themselves by their own frustrations and anger. They have certain parameters to follow, but there is room for ingenuity and compromise within those parameters. However, when they pass along a new project and all you see is red so to speak, then your ability to innovate and be creative is compromised. (Ohh I hate them for making me use red brick.. Blah Blah Blah)

This is really just a case of petty in-fighting. I especially love the attempt to discredit Jefferson's architectural style because it was created during a time of lesser social equality. How entirely laughable! The greatest monuments ever created by man were those that were created under such conditions. Anyway, the last architect to do anything truly worth remembering in North America was Wright, and he's been dead for over 50 years. Unfortunately, everything that has come after him in this post-modern world has been at best, a sad plaguerism. Its a lot like the modern art movement, if it could even be described as a movement.

Architects have an obligation to fit their designs in with the existing buildings and landscape. To put some obtuse glass and steel building at UVA is just going to look completely out of place not only with the existing buildings, but with the surrounding enviornment as well. My advice to them would to be get over yourselves, or go teach someplace where they'll allow to draw 48 and 93 degree angles for your new craptacular steel building until your hearts content.

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Architects have an obligation to fit their designs in with the existing buildings and landscape. To put some obtuse glass and steel building at UVA is just going to look completely out of place not only with the existing buildings, but with the surrounding enviornment as well. My advice to them would to be get over yourselves, or go teach someplace where they'll allow to draw 48 and 93 degree angles for your new craptacular steel building until your hearts content.

As an architect, I completely agree with your statement.

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You know, its funny, but I had always wondered how the architecture department felt about that, and that statement pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

I am in total disagreement with the academics, as I think they just want a place to show off their l33t modern design skillz. 'Look at me design a truly unoriginal-attempt-to-be-original modern glass building like every other city/university/public building/open space in the world.' I think they limit themselves by their own frustrations and anger. They have certain parameters to follow, but there is room for ingenuity and compromise within those parameters. However, when they pass along a new project and all you see is red so to speak, then your ability to innovate and be creative is compromised. (Ohh I hate them for making me use red brick.. Blah Blah Blah)

This is really just a case of petty in-fighting. I especially love the attempt to discredit Jefferson's architectural style because it was created during a time of lesser social equality. How entirely laughable! The greatest monuments ever created by man were those that were created under such conditions. Anyway, the last architect to do anything truly worth remembering in North America was Wright, and he's been dead for over 50 years. Unfortunately, everything that has come after him in this post-modern world has been at best, a sad plaguerism. Its a lot like the modern art movement, if it could even be described as a movement.

Architects have an obligation to fit their designs in with the existing buildings and landscape. To put some obtuse glass and steel building at UVA is just going to look completely out of place not only with the existing buildings, but with the surrounding enviornment as well. My advice to them would to be get over yourselves, or go teach someplace where they'll allow to draw 48 and 93 degree angles for your new craptacular steel building until your hearts content.

I completely disagree with your reading of the intent of the professors' open letter. If you re-read it, you'll note that they are not advocating any specific style nor use of materials. The letter is not about classicism v. modernism or brick and wood v. steel and glass, but rather, it is about the quality of the architecture such that it respond to the use, the environment, the zeitgeist, etc. It is quite possible to achieve such an architecture using a classical language (as Jefferson did) or filtered through contemporary ideas, materials, etc.

Additionally, while Wright was quite prolific and created many memorable works of architecture and is remembered deservedly, I would not dismiss every other American architect of the postwar era. Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, SOM, IM Pei, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry and Diller & Scofidio among many architects over the past five decades since Wright died merit discussion and honor as well.

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As an architect, I completely agree with your statement.

As an architect, I would implore you to go back and read the professor's open letter, visit the Grounds of UVa to see the buildings constructed there over the last 20 years and visit a design review at the School of Architecture to attain a better understanding of the teaching philosophies that the faculty espouse.

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