UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA                                                                                                          GROUNDS PLAN                                                                                                          OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT
 

 

 

Throughout its history, the University has been challenged to move forward as circumstances and continuing goals demand, while maintaining the ideological foundation of Jefferson’s vision--the interdependence of design and pedagogy--and the planning paradigms that he developed to implement that vision.  The history of the planning of the University is in one sense the history of an institution that was burdened with a rich and inspired scheme early on, and has struggled to work out how to build on it on ever since.  For much of the University’s history, this question has confronted planners, engineers, administrators and architects, each with their own training and set of beliefs about how to best go about nurturing or modernizing, growing or conserving, clearing or rebuilding the Grounds.  In addition, nearly every era of the University’s planning history has been marked by forceful national and local influences.

Particularly important has been the interdependent history of the city of Charlottesville, founded by charter in 1762, and the University, founded in 1819.  Thomas Jefferson was not only the founder of UVA, but also an important figure in the history of the region. Monticello and the Academical Village two local sites which share a UNESCO World Heritage site listing, are vestiges of Jefferson’s imprint here and on the nation.  The University and its surrounding community have influenced each other and grown together in countless ways.

Focusing on the Plan’s principles of preservation and context, this section looks to the past to understand the historical context in which we make today’s planning decisions. The history of planning at the University reveals a lively exchange of ideas that is barely hinted at by the architecture and planning of the Grounds today.  How the University has adapted to political change, strong leadership, social change, and technological advances are just a few of the broader currents that have marked the history of planning at the University of Virginia.  With each era, the University’s stewards have taken up new planning ideas and the established traditions to determine the best way forward.