Friday, December 19, 2014

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U.Va.’s OpenGrounds Honored for Historic Preservation of Corner Building

William Sherman, associate vice president for research, architecture professor and founding director of OpenGrounds, has received the Thomas Jefferson Branch of Preservation Virginia’s annual Historic Preservation Award for Rehabilitation for his design of the OpenGrounds studio on the Corner.

“I found the OpenGrounds an exciting and interesting adaptive re-use project, which I like to call, ‘where yesterday meets tomorrow,’” Judy Rasmussen, director of the Thomas Jefferson Branch of Historic Preservation, said. “By having awards for preservation projects we bring to the public the importance of safeguarding our built environment.”

When Eugene Bradbury, a noted Charlottesville architect, designed the building in 1912-14, it was called the “Entrance Building” to the University. It sits just a few feet away from the brick pillars of the East Gate, which was designated as a monument to the Honor System in 1912. When it was built, the building housed the U.Va. Bookstore and a tea room, said Daniel Bluestone, a U.Va. architecture historian who is a Thomas Jefferson Branch of Preservation Virginia board member.

“It was clearly a gathering place for students centered around books and knowledge,” he said. “Not only is it an historic preservation project, Bill worked with the spirit of the original intent of the building to create a gathering place for the University that incorporates innovative technology and brings people together.”

Sherman left intact the exterior envelope of the building, tore out wall partitions and low ceilings and uncovered windows to the north and south that fill the opened space with light. Everything in the interior is new and the space is filled with technology to help facilitate interdisciplinary solutions to today’s problems. OpenGrounds exists in both the physical and virtual worlds. The design is intended to generate creativity, collaboration and connection between faculty, students and the community to foster new ways of thinking and be a catalyst for redefining what a 21st-century university is and to promote exchange that will result in new research and curricular initiatives.

The award was presented on Nov. 11 at a reception at OpenGrounds.

 

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