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American Society of Landscape Architects


March 2004 Issue

Artistic Grounds
The University of Virginia plans a daring new arts precinct.
By Frank Edgerton Martin

"I would have the University of Virginia [be] the 'Garden University of America,' as it was evidently Jefferson's intention that it should be." —Warren Manning, 1909

Artistic Grounds

The Carr's Hill Arts Precinct master plan at the University of Virginia is a remarkable solution for a campus arts quarter on a site so steep that it seems more like a goat path than a future college precinct.

The University of Virginia (UVA) has influenced the design of almost every American college of the past 200 years. Thomas Jefferson's ideal of the "academical village" where students and faculty live together in a fertile campus garden centered on a quadrangular lawn remains a model for colleges and universities from Florida to Nebraska to California. Yet how can one create such common ground on a narrow slope with a 30-foot drop?

Carr's Hill is not so much a planning zone as a design volume. If it were a ski slope, it would be rated a "Black Diamond" for its extreme steepness. Yet it is here that UVA's arts program calls for a new building for studio arts, a parking garage, a new fine arts library, and a new art museum, with additions and renovations to the School of Architecture and the Department of Drama.

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