Charlottesville’s New Quirk Hotel Anchors a Main Street in Flux

Breathless encomiums about Charlottesville’s renaissance over the past decade are easy to understand. There’s been lots of housing and commercial infill, especially along stretches of road between town and gown outposts. The county’s infrastructure projects ringing the city have started to address (but still not solve) the traffic congestion. The newly completed South Lawn and hospital complex expansion projects are marvels of civil engineering. The Rotunda recently reemerged after a multimillion-dollar renovation as a model of thoughtfulness and probity. In parts of town where tuition-paying parents might have a Coke and a burger, things are generally looking leafier and cleaner.

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Notes on the Williamsburg Experiment

There’s an irony in writing a true account about the living history museum at Colonial Williamsburg. Its eponymous foundation and its curators have grappled with the same two questions for generations: Whose histories do we tell and how shall we recreate them? Today, Williamsburg faces a new set of questions beyond the facts recorded in the governours’ ledgers:  Whose truths do we tell and how shall we present them in concert together, especially in light of the 1619 Project, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Critical Race Theory, whose progenitors demand more than new lines of inquiry. They demanded action. Williamsburg has made clear efforts to juggle archaeology with interpretation, and it has also attempted to address the indictment of sophistry among its critics, which are legion. But, can the sites of Williamsburg’s 301 acres respond to our moment now?

In our post-vaccination world, Colonial Williamsburg is worth revisiting this summer, as I did in June—not for what its evidence reveals about Colonial America, but for our opportunity to change the course of what I’ll call the Williamsburg Experiment, ongoing for more than 380 years.

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Design for Student Health and Wellbeing at UVA

UVA SHW Exterior facing South West
The building design connects to a new academic mixed-use district along Brandon Avenue. Image courtesy of VMDO Architects.

As students return to campus amid continued pandemic uncertainty, awareness of the importance of good health — physical, mental, and emotional — is intensifying. Attending college can be stressful under any circumstance. Aside from the rigors of academic life, it is often a student’s first time living away from home. For universities looking to develop health programs to address the needs of today’s students, the new Student Health & Wellness Center at the University of Virginia presents a model that expands traditional health services and facilitates a new approach to student wellness with preventative practices and strengthened community connections.

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New Community Health Center Transforms a Kigali Community

Masoro Health Centre by GAC
Masoro Health Centre by General Architects Collaborative (GAC) is a regional campus that contributes to Rwanda’s status as a “beacon” for healthcare in central Africa. Photograph courtesy GAC.

Just outside metropolitan Kigali, the Masoro Health Centre by the nonprofit General Architecture Collaborative (GAC) is part of a multi-decade push by the Rwandan government to improve its healthcare system, which includes clinics in underserved regions. GAC’s center administers curative and maternity services, as well as preventative care, for more than 20,000 residents within a 10 square-mile area in the foothills of the Virunga Mountain Range that define the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The center spreads across multiple buildings, all modest in scale, separated by services and functions to facilitate queuing and create a restful campus atmosphere. In addition to community health, the center’s architects also addressed the ecological and economic health of the region by identifying local materials and training laborers and students from the University of Rwanda in building trades to complete the 1.3 acre campus.

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A DC Rec Center Where Blue and Green Infrastructures Meet

Before the advent of air conditioning, Washingtonians endured hot summers as the northernmost southern American city. They coped by moving a little slower for a few months and hopping the trolly to some of the glades dotting the city’s periphery like Glen Echo, Hains Point, Oxen Run, or along Sligo Creek. That periphery is still marked by 40 boundary stones, the nation’s oldest federal monuments, and a network of forts, parks, and recreation centers that serve as neighborhood hubs. Marvin Gaye Recreation Center is the newest public facility in the District, completed in 2018 and situated just 1,000 feet from the easternmost boundary stone.

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Society’s Cage: Architects Use Data to Visualize Systemic Injustice

George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders were clarion calls for Dayton Schroeter, AIA, and Julian Arrington at SmithGroup, and their travelling exhibit, “Society’s Cage,” was their response to three related questions: what is the value of Black life, what is the nature of power in this country, and what is the relationship of Black people to power structures in our country? The experience of visiting Society’s Cage centers on entering a 15’x15’ cube comprised of steel rods of varying lengths suspended within a series of rods that form a four-sided curtain. Visitors don’t move through the curtain so much as they contend with it. Our view in, out, or through the cube is fractured, striated, and ultimately governed by an unremitting and unforgiving structure. The metaphor is obvious, and that’s the point. Schroeter and Arrington wanted visitors to its first installment on the National Mall last summer to visualize power and understand how it contorts vision, body, and movement.

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Wake Technical Community College Parking Deck

In 2012 Wake Tech Community College (WTCC) began a significant expansion of their North Campus to meet the needs of a growing region and demand for education and training services. To densify the campus, the long-term master plan called for these new facilities to displace existing surface parking and provide new structured parking at the perimeter of campus.

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