Architecture

architecture university

OPEN LETTER TO CURRENT AND FUTURE ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS                       

This is the best institution to educate yourself in architecture; you already know it and it's why you are here. This is one of the best schools of design in the country, and the one that combines design with the education of a public leader in our society.

This place is different than any other, and not only that, it is meaningfully unique. This is the school of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence. If we were a school for writers, that would be the foundational text. But we are the school of architecture, and we have the other lesson of Jefferson, to be correctly understood. In the beginning of the XIX century, bricks and columns were used to be innovative and move away from the English neo-gothic. The Lawn is the Project of the Enlightenment:

  • architecture: scale, program, geometry, order, repetition, rhythm, structure, form, materials, space…
  • urban design: relations, fabric, distances, public space…
  • landscape architecture: site, topography, views, vegetation, territorial relations…
  • social system: community, relations, exchange of knowledge…
  • institution: educational, social, political…

We keep the same ambition of innovation in design and in social structures, with today’s languages and technologies.

This is what is expected from you, architects and designers. You will become designers able to exceed, designing the best spaces, urban environments; architecture interacting with the place, transforming it and improving it; architecture aware of and impacting social problems, able to design structures, organizations, institutions to accomplish the highest ideals. But I‘ll say it again, designers! Designers charged with the unique and long lasting responsibility of transforming the physical environment.

You have come here in order to be leaders in thinking, in asking relevant questions and in searching tirelessly for the best forward-looking answers. Finding these answers will be difficult. But believe me, the real challenge is framing the right meaningful question. This is the critical issue; the good questions will take you by the hand,

to the answers. It is very hard and very exciting at the same time- be ready to be always wrong! Or at least, not right enough. We live in the uncertainty; design is a process of continuous search, endless search. So don’t ever be satisfied.

You are, and we are, here to transform our world, our physical environment. This is what UVa has always done.   This is the place to develop yourselves as “good designers”: “relevant good designers”. You could have chosen other qualifications instead of “relevant”: “rich”, “famous”, “well established”, “well connected”…

But you have made your choice of coming here, believing that this is the best school to become “relevant good designers”. I came here 3 years ago, from my office in Barcelona and with my partner Margarita Jover, never considering anywhere else. This is the school I believe in. You can be proud of having an extraordinary group of faculty, some that you may know, most you will soon discover. Being the Chair, I can assure you it has no parallel in any other institution that I know. Not visible enough, I know, and we are working to remdy that. Several generations have arrived, revitalizing the soul of this unique school:

. Years ago: Robin Dripps, Peter Waldman, WG Clark, Ed Ford… all of them beloved professors, desired in many places and investing their lives and passion in this place.

. Afterwards: Karen Van Lengen, Bill Sherman, Lucia Phinney, Charlie Menefee, Kirk Martini, Earl Mark, Phoebe Crisman, Sanda Iliescu, Pam Black…

. A next cohort: Anselmo Canfora, Nana Last, Betsy Roettger, Alexander Kitchin, Lester Yuen…

. In the last 3 years: Shiqiao Li, Manuel Bailo, Jeana Ripple, Matthew Jull, Seth McDowell, Ghazal Abbassy, Esther Lorenz, Schaeffer Somers, Gwen Murray, Megan Suau…

. And new faculty of this year: Alex Wall, Carmen Trudell, Asa Eslocker…

You will get to know, and will also be relevant for you because this is the richness of the school, faculty from other departments such as Beth Meyer (also now our new Dean), Teresa Gal

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