If you follow us on Instagram (please do, we’re new to it and we’d love to see what you are posting!), you may have noticed I had a little Charlottesville getaway this weekend. The fall foliage peak was just tipping, but I was just in time to see brilliant oranges, reds and yellows all over this small city in central Virginia. I may be biased, but the beauty of my alma mater’s grounds (at UVA, we don’t say “campus,” I don’t know why) never ceases to amaze me. Here are a few reasons why the Academical Village is the only university campus in the United States that is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The lawn. Thomas Jefferson created his Academical Village around a central lawn with dorm rooms for students and pavilions for profs down the sides, and the rotunda at the end. (The other end was to remain open to the view of the mountains, but alas, it no longer is.)
The pavilions. Jefferson loved to experiment with architecture,and his pavilions were meant to serve as examples for study. On this pavilion, the balcony railings all have different patterns. He also used different classical details on the tops of columns.
The rotunda. Jefferson’s original rotunda burned down in 1895. Just as well, an ugly annex had been added onto it for classroom space, throwing off its Palladian proportions. Stanford White directed the restoration of the rotunda that stands today. Oopsies, he also added the buildings that block the view of the mountains on the south end of the lawn. We’ll forgive him.
The Serpentine walls. Behind the pavilions are beautiful gardens, each one with its own distinct personality. Alleys between gardens are lined with serpentine walls, which lead to additional student rooms on the Range. Jefferson designed these walls, which are only one brick thick.
Edgar Allen Poe’s on the Range. You can stop by Edgar Allen Poe’s old room, which has been restored to look like it did back in the day, and press a doorbell to hear the poem “The Raven.” I always felt sorry for whomever lived on either side of that room and had to listen to that poem dozens of times per day and wondered how it affected him or her.
Newer architecture. The original architecture school at UVA celebrates the brutalist architecture that was so popular at the time (1970), but also incorporates the university’s ubiquitous brick. This is not the most popular building on the grounds, but those huge windows that face north gave us great light in the studios.
My personal favorite is Bryan Hall by Michael Graves. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a photo of it.
Just below the A-school and the new arts campus surrounding it is this installation by Patrick Dougherty. The whorled stick hut-like shapes make for a wonderful interactive experience. One can’t help but jump in and pose for a picture peeking through one of the openings.