University of Virginia (Ryan Moody)

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    them is fightin words

    By r.s
    Sep 16, '05 2:30 PM EST

    An open letter was recently submitted to the Board of Visitors, University Administration, and University Community undersigned by a number of architecture faculty at the University of Virginia. I won't paraphrase their comments or provide individual opinion but will suggest that everyone read the letter. This discussion has exposed the school of architecture to new audiences and engaged the community (micro and macro) in a lively debate.

    (and its making me think that maybe I shouldn't have laser cut those ionic columns and palladian facade for my studio project...I should have cut them out with a blade just like T.J. would have)

    seriously folks, has anyone seen the columns and pergola on the new basketball stadium at UVA?



    • interesting.

      funny to read massengale. he makes some sense but when he holds up stern as a great architect you really have to question his credibility...

      doubt the letter will have an affect though. uni campuses are always hotbeds for mediocre architecture...

      (btw TJ would have hired a craftsman to make the model for him. no need to feel guilty.)

      Sep 16, 05 6:13 pm

      a valiant effort, if nothing else. This problem, or some derivative of it, plagues most University settings, as jump mentioned. In the event that this letter/forum is effective, I would love to see the notion proliferated...but I've only recently graduated, so that's just the residue of idealism talkin'...

      Sep 17, 05 7:00 pm

      (pasted below is a copy of my comments sent to the keepers of the forum website)

      In response to the generalizations of Messangale and Siegel:

      The open letter from the UVA architecture faculty, and creation of this forum, do not suggest that modernism (or its underpinnings) should replace traditional architecture on the UVA Grounds. (The words "modernism" and "modernist" do not appear in the letter, and "modern" is used only once.)

      If Palladio and Jefferson were here today, they would likely be interested in progressing, not thoughtlessly copying motifs with no genuine motivation for doing so. Both of these visionary men were critical of the popular views of their time and created built environments that responded accordingly. They shaped amazing places for people to experience community.

      Palladio's Vicenza does not fall victim to the historicism that the UVA campus does. The residents of this historical place understand their collective past, and build upon it. The Vicenza of today is at once Palladian and modern (not modern-ist).

      In the case of Jefferson, classicism was used to give a sense of established credibility to a young nation (among other things). He had a reason. What's yours?

      Aaron Plewke

      (Post Script)
      This draw towards historicism plagues many US universities, including my own former place of study, the University of Florida. Thanks for putting this forum into a place of prominence. AP

      Sep 17, 05 7:58 pm

      I think this is an interesting and important discussion, I'm surprised at the lack of response...

      Sep 19, 05 6:51 pm

      it is actually a letter that is too little and frankly too late... the school has been dead in the "uprising against the board of visitors" since its inception... the interesting thing is that the school only responded when one faculty member made it his personal mission to push this discussion to the forefront... the school needs to be more proactive in its obligation as a center of critical discussion and not merely a responsive entity. 95% of the buildings on grounds are horrible interpretations of jeffersonian ideology.

      Sep 26, 05 9:17 pm

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