Safety marks winning entry of UVa vortex
Fourth annual event focused on Ivy Road area
A design in which University Hall is converted into an academic center and connected to a redeveloped Ivy Road won the University of Virginia School of Architecture’s fourth annual Vortex Sunday.
Hannah Barefoot, a graduate student in landscape architecture, said the overriding theme of her team’s entry was to ensure a safe environment for tomorrow’s UVa students in the wake of the killings of UVa student Hannah Graham and Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
Barefoot said those events have led to a sense of terror at UVa.
“We wanted to respond to that and make sure we were constantly reevaluating so that we could create a spacial environment that can foster positive conversations and actions and memories,” Barefoot said.
The entry won the public, student and faculty prizes that concluded the weeklong look at the Ivy Road corridor between Emmet Street and UVa.
“We’ve had an amazing range of topics so people weren’t constrained by one geography or topic,” said Genevieve Keller, a professor in the architecture school and a member of the Charlottesville Planning Commission.
“We are always making plans for the future and these are plans that are being developed by people mostly in their 20s who will be the citizens of tomorrow,” Keller said.
Several of the entries imagined a time when the automobile is no longer the primary method of transportation.
An entry called Reverse: The Urban Car Boundary gave a detailed timeline of how this transformation might occur over the next hundred years. If this came to pass, there would be no more private vehicles after 2065, with an extensive series of trolleys taking their place.
Another transportation entry, VELOCity: Making Charlottesville Bikeable, called for massive investment in cycling infrastructure.
“Our proposal included separating high-speed bike traffic from commuters from vehicular and pedestrian traffic, making the streets safer for bikers by converting roads into complete or naked streets and creating programs that make biking more affordable and enjoyable,” reads the narrative on the project’s model.
Another entry, Housing the Jeffersonian Ideal, challenged the notion that student-oriented housing complexes should be built on West Main Street.
“We were looking at what makes housing options both on-Grounds and off-Grounds attractive to students and grad students,” said Sarah Brummett. “We wanted to try to figure out some rules and a toolkit that we might use in the future.”
Brummett’s team conducted its own survey, built on a May 2013 study that showed that while first-year students are required to live on Grounds, the numbers of upperclassmen who choose to do so dwindles in each successive year.
Brummett said residential development of the Ivy Road corridor would need to be done in an intentional manner, given that there’s a perception the street is too far away from academic buildings.
For instance, the Flats at West Village is about two-thirds of a mile from the Rotunda.
That compares with a third of a mile to the Cavalier Inn and two-thirds of a mile to the corner of Ivy Road and Copeley Road.
Brummett said other student complexes on West Main could be a hard sell given that their potential residents might not feel like they are part of the university community.
“You have to go by a hotel, you have to walk past the hospital, you have to go by a vacant lot, you have to go by the power plant, and you have a lot to navigate,” Brummett said.
Brummett said the university could create its own community by expanding westward onto Ivy Road, something possible due to the many parcels of land owned by the UVa Foundation.
The winning team also sought to create a residential community on Ivy Road.
A key feature of the winning project was to return an underground stream to its natural state, running exposed to the elements.
“We decided to use that landscape as an element,” Barefoot said. “We decided to revel and be excited by the stream and taking the water from the culvert, but also exposing it as a corridor, as something that could be social, as well as ecological.”
Barefoot said that under her team’s scheme, the Copeley Road bridge where Harrington was last seen would be named after her and enhanced.
“The link is supercritical to use and the idea is that it becomes wide and it becomes a place where people are passing from one area to another, but it’s also a place that is large enough to accommodate specific gatherings and meetings,” she said.
Barefoot also said new UVa development on Ivy Road would connect the athletic precinct with the original Academical Village.
Several hundred people attended Sunday’s presentation at the Carver Recreation Center.
“We don’t want to lose these ideas,” Keller said. “I think the university is listening.”
The exhibits are on display at CitySpace through the end of February.