The UVA School of Architecture occupies the north face of Carr’s Hill tucked behind the university President’s estate and the classical Fralin Museum of Art, placing it completely out of view from Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village. Nearly all that has been built at UVA since Jefferson, became a tortuous attempt at mimicking the genius of his design ideas, that in the end little more than a thin historical artifice was created. That’s what happens when architecture gets reduced to stylistic games. A close look at Jefferson’s work reveals a rigorous interweaving of building with the landscape, the modulation of sunlight marking the passage of time, the reciprocity of cross section and plan achieving spatial choreography, framing site axes and views, and a playful inventiveness in pragmatic solutions and technology of the time. So, when the preeminent School of Architecture decided to expand the 1960s Pietro Belluschi building, they embarked upon the boldest and most forward thinking approach to design ever achieved at UVA since Jefferson’s own statement. In doing so, the two building additions completed 4 years ago are truer kindred spirits to Jefferson’s view of architecture than any of the other University buildings to date. – Josh McCullar, Editor vaMODERN
The Campbell Hall additions are a joint venture between academia and practice [a collaboration between SMBW Architects, and architects/professors W G Clark and William Sherman]. A goal of the Dean and faculty was for the additions to serve as a pedagogical resource to inform students of design which embraces knowledge of place, the use of local materials and building traditions, and the role of technology in design.
The East Addition is dedicated to the exhibition and discussion of student work. The design makes this critical aspect of architectural education transparent and visible to all who pass by. The building is thin in plan with two long, opposing walls dedicated to display. The south wall is solid and opaque [cast in place concrete]. The north wall, in contrast, is a collage of translucent and clear glass to allow passers-by glimpses of reviews in progress; it is the public side of the building that identifies the School of Architecture. This wall is activated by rotating panels on vertical pivots and a counter-weighted table whose underside is a pin-up surface.
The South Addition [clad in Buckingham, Va slate shingles] is a slender bar of faculty offices and seminar rooms that open directly onto the design studios. The placement of alternating exterior [wood clad] porches and interior anterooms allows spaces for unscripted student and faculty interaction. Operable glass louvers cover the exterior porches; the first US installation for British photo voltaic cell technology. When the PVC arrays are applied to the glass blades the louver system will generate electric power for the building. – Will Scribner, FAIA | SMBW PLLC
Images: SMBW Architects & UVA School of Architecture
Additional Information in Architect Magazine Article, November 2008